Photo of the Day

photos and stories from the Powerhouse Museum

Magnavox horns

July 29th, 2014 by


This photograph of four Magnavox horns with amplifier is one of 22 photographic prints depicting early radio and phonographic equipment donated to the Museum by Magnavox Australia Pty Ltd  in 1971. Magnavox is an American electronics company with nearly 100-year history, founded by the inventors of the dynamic horn loudspeaker, Edwin S. Pridham (1881–1963) and Peter L. Jensen (1886-1961).

Photographer unknown

No known copyright restrictions

The Hollywood Rhythm Girl

July 28th, 2014 by


This photograph from the Tom Lennon photographic collection was taken in Sydney on 23 April 1935 on the deck of a luxury ocean liner SS Mariposa.

It pictures an American singer Betty Lorraine with a piano accordion player from the Sunny Brooks’ band.

Brooks was brought to Australia by the Australian Cabaret and Amusement Corporation to play at the New Palais Royal at Moore Park. The newspapers from that time advertised his band as ‘Sunny Brooks and his Hollywood Orchestra’ whilst Betty Lorraine was described as “The Hollywood Rhythm Girl”.

Tom T. Lennon, was a commercial photographer with a studio at 64 Victoria Road, Drummoyne. At the time that this photograph was taken, Tom Lennon was the official photographer for Australian Dance Band News. Powerhouse Museum  purchased Tom Lennon Archive in 1994.

Photograph by Tom Lennon, 94/63/1-44/9

No known copyright restrictions

Cumberland Street, 1901

July 25th, 2014 by


The dreamlike atmosphere of the detail above belies the history and purpose of the photograph from which it is taken. The original photograph is part of the 1901 Rocks Resumption Photographic Survey. Following an outbreak of bubonic plague in 1900 The Rocks in particular was identified as a source of contagion because the disease was carried by fleas on the rats which came ashore from ships. The state government resumed the whole of the area around Darling Harbour and many buildings, including residences, were demolished.

More information about The Rocks can be viewed on The Dictionary of Sydney website.



Tyrrell Collection, 85/1286-2575

No known copyright restrictions


Make and bake and take the cake

July 24th, 2014 by


Make & bake & take the cake

was the slogan for Aunt Mary’s Baking Powder c. 1900. This photographs seems to have been taken for the purpose of documenting the advertisement for Aunt Mary’s Baking Powder boldly painted on the side wall of Willis’s bakery. In fact, the placement of the two main figures, the woman in the centre of the footpath and the man looking on from behind his front gate, suggests that the photograph itself may have been a form of advertisement.


Photography by unattributed studio

No known copyright restrictions

Paris 1937

July 23rd, 2014 by

90/944-14/1: R H James 1937 Paris Expo

The striking Soviet pavilion designed by Boris Iofan readily identifies this photograph as showing the Paris exposition of 1937.

Photography by Richard Haughton-James

No known copyright restrictions


July 22nd, 2014 by


It was a brave photographer who stood in the middle of the street in the path of an oncoming carriage to capture this shot of a Melbourne street c. 1900. To the left of the carriage is the Carlton tram.

Photography by unattributed studio. Tyrrell Collection, 85/1286-2625

No known copyright restrictions

The John Simpson store

July 21st, 2014 by


The John Simpson store in Cumberland Place at The Rocks in Sydney was run by John Simpson and his sister, Esther. The crossed anchor and shovel painted above the door indicated that the mixed grocery business supplied mariners and immigrants headed inland in search of gold as well as the local residents. Signs that used visual images told all prospective customers, literate or not, of the merchandise that might be found within.

The detail above, like the photograph of Bettingdon and Merriman streets posted last week, shows the curiosity aroused by the presence of a photographer in a part of the city not usually of interest to the view trade. The children have all paused their activities, (the girl in the light-toned dress holds a skipping rope at her shoulders) to stand still for the photographer.

This photograph is one of a series that appears to be part of the 1901 Rocks Resumption Photographic Survey.


Photography by unattributed studio, Tyrrell collection 85/1286-2592

No known copyright restrictions.

Court fashion

July 18th, 2014 by


This is another photograph by David Mist taken at the New South Wales tennis championships at White City in Edgecliff, Sydney. The centre court official wears shorts and Bermuda socks, a popular summer outfit for men in the Australia of the 1970s. Behind him in the crowd another man sports a terry towelling hat, also a popular men’s accessory of the time.


The photograph is part of the David Mist Archive collection.

Photography by David Mist

© All rights reserved

Thursday Island township

July 17th, 2014 by

00g06135TI towship

This photograph, like many from the Tyrrell collection that depict scenes of the Pacific island or Torres Strait region, may have been found its way into the collection via the studios Charles Kerry, Henry King or Tyrrell’s bookshop, who all bought photographs from missionaries, traders or collectors.

Thursday Island is also known as TI or Waiben and the township, shown in the photograph above, is  the administrative centre of the Torres Strait Islands. Thursday Island has an area of around 3.5 square kilometres.


Photography by unattributed studio, Tyrrell collection, 85/1286-674

No known copyright restrictions

White City

July 16th, 2014 by


At first glance this image looks as though it might depict a large screen in a theatre, but a closer look reveals that it shows the tennis court at White City in Sydney’s Rushcutter’s Bay during the New South Wales tennis championships. The photograph was taken some time in the late 1960s and was published in David Mist’s Sydney: a book of photographs. In the text the newly-arrived English photographer comments on the Australian enthusiasm for sport:

Spectator sports attract huge crowds, with football, cricket and tennis commanding the news coverage and assuming the importance of international events.

The photograph is part of the David Mist Archive collection.

Photography by David Mist

© All rights reserved

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