# 31769


Batman’s Treaty with the Blacks, 1835

$1,150.00 AUD

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[Title from caption on banner in image]. Melbourne : Frazer & Vallance, [probably 1910]. Gelatin silver print photograph, 100 x 155 mm, laid down on its original board mount ,120 x 165 mm, with the studio imprint in black across the lower margin; verso blank; the print is in good condition with great clarity and detail; the mount is heavily foxed.

This apparently unrecorded photograph captures a recreation – in the form of a living tableau, staged on what appears to be a horse-drawn processional float – of John Batman’s “Treaty” made with Wurundjeri elders on 6 June 1835, in which he “traded” 40 pairs of blankets, 42 tomahawks, 130 knives, 62 pairs of scissors, 40 looking glasses, 250 handkerchiefs, 18 shirts, 4 flannel jackets, 4 suits of clothes and 150 lb. of flour in return for 600,000 acres of land, a vast region known to the Kulin peoples as Naarm, and which is what we now know as Melbourne.

The validity of the treaty has always been widely disputed, and not only from the Kulin nation’s perspective: in fact, it was challenged by the colonial authorities as early as 26 August 1835, when the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Richard Bourke, issued a proclamation declaring that private agreements such as Batman’s Treaty were “void and of no effect as against the rights of the Crown”, and that any person on “vacant land of the Crown” without authorisation from the Crown to be trespassing.

The photograph was most likely taken in 1910, the year of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the original event; this accords with the active dates of the Melbourne photographic firm of Frazer & Vallance, which was in business from 1901 up until 1918.