Australian Photogrpahy – Freeman Brothers Sydney

Unidentified man, from collodion negative, Freeman Brothers Studio, 1871-1880, Powerhouse Museum, H8504-22

Over the last couple of months I have been working on a previously uncatalogued collection of large format, 50.8 cm x 44.5 cm, glass plate negatives donated to thePowerhouse Museum in 1969. The 28 collodion portraits were found in a chest in our stores at Castle Hill and have been identified as all being originally taken by the Freeman Borthers Studio here in Sydney. We are currently conserving and cataloguing the photographs but hope to be posting them onto flickr commons by the end of the year for researchers to use.

The Freeman Brother Studio lays claim to being the longest running studio in Australia. It was established as the ‘Freeman Brothers and Wheeler’ by William Freeman and his brother James in George Street in 1854; it was still running nearly 150 years later. James was the more experienced of the two having worked in Richard Beard’s gallery in Bath before coming to Australia and was certainly instrumental in the success with which they plied their trade in Sydney.[1] Continue reading

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Early Music Recording & Edison Wax Cylinders

The first cylinder sound recording machine was developed by Thomas Edison in 1877. This invention etched the sound wave patterns from a mouthpiece onto tinfoil wrapped around a 4 inch cylinder. However this medium, while able to successfully record low quality sound, was extremely fragile and it failed to find a substantial commercial market.

It was not until 1885 that a talking machine called the ‘graphophone‘ was able to successfully play and record onto cylinders which were robust enough to be commercially viable. This machine utilised a wax coated cylinder rather than tin foil and accounts for the reason recorded cylinders from this point on were commonly referred to as ‘wax cylinders’, although many are not made from wax at all.

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