Historical information

At the beginning of the 1890s, the Kew businessman and Town Councillor, Henry Kellett, commissioned J.F.C. Farquhar to photograph scenes of Kew. These scenes included panoramas as well as pastoral scenes. The resulting set of twelve photographs was assembled in an album, Kew Where We Live, from which customers could select images for purchase.The preamble to the album describes that the photographs used the ‘argentic bromide’ process, now more commonly known as the gelatine silver process. This form of dry plate photography allowed for the negatives to be kept for weeks before processing, hence its value in landscape photography. The resulting images were considered to be finely grained and everlasting. Evidence of the success of Henry Kellett’s venture can be seen today, in that some of the photographs are held in national collections.

Significance

It is believed that the Kew Historical Society’s copy of the Kellett album is unique and that the photographs in the book were the first copies taken from the original plates. It is the first and most important series of images produced about Kew. The individual images have proved essential in identifying buildings and places of heritage value in the district.

Physical description

A unique Illustrated book, comprising a series of twelve plates of panoramic and landscape photographs of Kew, commissioned from the Melbourne (and Kew) photographer JFC Farquhar, by the Kew stationer Henry Kellett. The book was published in 1891, so it is presumed that the photographs provided by Farquhar were taken in 1891 or in the previous year. Photographs from the cloth bound book were offered by Kellett for sale separately; hence a number are in public collections. The book is in very poor condition, the leaves having separated from the spine. The cover is suffering from red rot while the mounts of each book plate are dirty and frequently suffering from foxing. The actual silver albumen plates variably suffer from foxing and iridescence caused by the deterioration resulting from the photographic process. Each part of the book can be viewed in this record in sequential format.

Inscriptions & markings

KEW WHERE WE LIVE / KEW ILLUSTRATED / THE ACCOMPANYING ILLUSTRATIONS ARE PHOTOGRAPHIC VIEWS OF KEW AND ITS SURROUNDINGS, EXECUTED BY THE "ARGENTIC BROMIDE PROCESS", WHICH ENSURES ABSOLUTE PERMANENCY OF THE PHOTOGRAPH. IN A FEW YEARS HENCE WHEN MOST OF THE OLD LANDMARKS WILL HAVE DISAPPEARED THESE VIEWS WILL BE A VALUABLE MEMENTO OF KEW AS IT WAS IN 1891. ANY OF THESE ILLUSTRATIONS GAN BE OBTAINED FROM MR. H. KELLETT, HIGH STREET, KEW, IN SINGLE COPIES, IN THE SAME SIZE AS THOSE HEREIN AT 2s PER COPY. THEY MAY ALSO BE OBTAINED IN THE FOLLOWING SIZES FOR FRAMING:- / ACTUAL SIZE OF PHOTOGRAPH 15 INCHES X 12 INCHES @ 8. 6d EACH / 22 INCHES X 16 INCHES @ 15s EACH / PRIVATE RESIDENCES AND ESTATES / SPECIAL ARRANGEMENTS CAN BE MADE FOR TAKING VIEWS OF PRIVATE RESIDENCES - INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR - AND FOR GROUPS, &C., IN ANY SIZE UP TO 40 INCHES BY 30 INCHES BY THE "ARGENTIC BROMIDE" PROCESS UPON APPLICATION TO / MR H. KELLETT / HIGH STREET, KEW.