# 37512


An early photographic view of The Hamilton Club, Hamilton, Western District, Victoria. September-October, 1879.

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Albumen print photograph, carte de visite format, 62 x 104 mm (mount); ‘Ballard, Photo.’ in manuscript in the image at bottom left; verso wet-stamped ‘H. B. Ballard, Photographer / From Melbourne’, and the travelling photographer’s handwritten caption ‘Hamilton’; the albumen print has lost a tiny amount of contrast, but is in excellent condition, as is the mount.

An Italianate style single-storey stone building designed by architects Smith & Johnson, The Hamilton Club was completed in 1878. From the outset, the prestigious Gray Street premises became the focus of social activity for the squatters, professionals and merchants of Victoria’s wealthy Western District. The Club remains active to the present day.

This photograph of The Hamilton Club was taken by the relatively little-known Melbourne travelling photographer H. B. Ballard during his working visit to Hamilton in September-October, 1879 – so, in the institution’s first year of existence.

Ballard placed the following notice in the Hamilton Spectator on 23 September 1879:

PORTRAITS !! PORTRAITS!! FOR TWO WEEKS LONGER. H. B. Ballard & Co., Artist Photographers, from Melbourne, HAVE erected their Mammoth Studio opposite the Academy, Hamilton. Melbourne Prices. Melbourne Work.

After his departure from Hamilton, Ballard continued west across the border into South Australia. A number of his photographs of buildings in Port MacDonnell, Mount Gambier and Naracoorte are held in the SLSA; these are dated to 1880.

Several photographs taken by Ballard a few years later in the Hunter Valley district of New South Wales are also held in Australian public collections.

However, we have not been able to trace any other extant examples of Ballard’s Hamilton photographs; it is quite possible that the present carte de visite view of The Hamilton Club is a unique survivor.