Kelly Gang Photograph

Our June 29th sale includes several remarkable examples of Australiana, including the only photograph of the Kelly Gang produced in Ned Kelly’s lifetime (lot 50), the life-masks of Don Bradman (1930), and J. J. Bradfield (1932); a previously unknown portrait of Marcus Clarke (1870); The Bradshaw Collection, being several hundred cdv’s of pioneer families of Hobart and Launceston, rare portraits of AFL stars of the 70’s by John Rogers including Matthews and Jesaulenko, a Henry King photographic workbook with unique aboriginal content and loads of other fascinating historic photographs.

Here are the details of the Kelly Gang photograph:

Lot 50 – The Kelly Gang. A Carte de Visite (CDV or Photograph) by Burrows , Melbourne Portrait Rooms, Brisbane Street, Launceston, as offered one week after the Glenrowan Siege, and published in the Launceston Examiner July 9 1880. Also published in the Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston) of July 13 1880. This copy is one of only three known, all in private hands. Written in contemporary ink, Dan Kelly, Ned Kelly, Joe Byrne to front, and to reverse on Burrows’ green label, Hannah Littlechild/Joe Byrne/Ned Kelly/Dan Kelly/July 12 1880. William Henry Carl Burrows came to Australia in 1858, aged 6 with his father photographer John William Burrows. Burrows and his brother Arthur were travelling photographers in the period 1878-9, around Victoria and Tasmania. This photograph was probably taken by Alfred Burrows (then running his Melbourne Portrait Rooms in Bendigo) at Euroa on December 10 1878, when the Kelly Gang had acquired new clothes from James Gloster the previous day. Ned Kelly was described by Ward of the Benalla Police Station as 27 years, about six feet high, built in proportion. Dark hair, dark brown whiskers, and beard and moustache worn long. He took a blue sac coat, brown tweed trousers and vest, elastic side boots, brown felt hat, grey striped Crimean shirt and a lavender tie. Dan Kelly was recorded as 18 years, five feet 61/2 inches, dark brown hair, blue eyes, sallow complexion, scar on left cheek. Wore black paget coat, dark grey tweed trousers and vest, Rob Roy shirt and a black tie, elastic sided boots, a light felt hat. As the Kelly Gang were declared outlaws under the Felons Apprehension Act of October 1878, photographers of the Kellys – like Burman, Bray, and Burrows, did not make their wares available as the Act penalized those who “gave aid, shelter or sustenance” to gang members. The position for photographers changed after Glenrowan, June 27 1880 when photographs of the events were recorded and in great public demand. A similar CDV, but in lesser condition, was sold by Lawsons in 1988 and again in 2016 with the provenance of the Mayor of Launceston 1879. No institution holds this carte, the only known image of the Kelly Gang published in Ned Kelly’s lifetime.

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