Historical information

Chiltern Pharmacy, now called Dow's Pharmacy, opened in 1859 at a time when the township of Chiltern was experiencing a second-wave gold rush that redistributed the balance of commercial and social activity in the region. David McEwan, father of Prime Minister John McEwan, was one of the first pharmacists practicing at the business. It was purchased in 1929 by pharmacist Hilda Dow who ran the business with her apprentice and husband, Roy Dow, until they closed the business in 1968. In 1988, after founding the North East branch of the National Trust, the Dows donated the premises with its entire fittings and stock. Some of the more than 4,000 items in stock at the time of closure in 1968 were present in the shop when the Dows took charge in 1929 and date to the late Nineteenth Century (around the time this image was taken).

Hilda Dow (nee Grey) was born in 1897, the daughter of a police magistrate. She enrolled to study at the Victorian College of Pharmacy in 1919 and worked initially for Poynton's Pharmacy in Morwell before purchasing the Chiltern Pharmacy that was later named after her. She was a member of the Pharmaceutical Society of Victoria, a hospital committee and Board, the Red Cross and the Infant Welfare Association and held office for the Chiltern branch of the Country Women's Association. Her sister Helene Grey received an OBE for her work as Lady Superintendent of the Royal Melbourne Hospital. Although Hilda Dow was not Australia's first female pharmacist (this was Caroline Copp in 1880) the preservation of the pharmacy and the stories it presents sheds light on the general issue of recognition for female medical pioneers in Australia.

Lantern slides, sometimes called 'magic lantern' slides, are glass plates on which an image has been secured for the purpose of projection. Glass slides were etched or hand-painted for this purpose from the Eighteenth Century but the process became more popular and accessible to the public with the development of photographic-emulsion slides used with a 'Magic Lantern' device in the mid-Nineteenth Century. Photographic lantern slides comprise a double-negative emulsion layer (forming a positive image) between thin glass plates that are bound together. A number of processes existed to form and bind the emulsion layer to the base plate, including the albumen, wet plate collodion, gelatine dry plate and woodburytype techniques. Lantern slides and magic lantern technologies are seen as foundational precursors to the development of modern photography and film-making techniques.


This image is significant as it provides insight into social and commercial infrastructure available in the North-East region of Victoria in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries. The business pictured is also associated with a Prime Minister of Victoria and some of Victoria's first female medical and pharmaceutical practitioners.

Physical description

Thin translucent sheet of glass with a circular image printed on the front and framed in a black backing. It is held together by metals strips to secure the edges of the slide.