CRYSTAL PALACE STUDIO
“Can You Help a Fellow Out?”. Novelty prison-themed studio portrait. Sydney, 1912.
Silver gelatin print photograph, 132 x 87 mm, printed on Kodak Austral card stock; recto inscribed ‘Your loving son Will, NSW 1912’; verso with imprint of the ‘Crystal Palace Studio, Brickfield Hill, George Street, Sydney’ and further inscribed ‘Jack Grey & I behind Bars’; in very good condition.
The Crystal Palace Studio specialised in “stage set” novelty photographs which involved elaborate props and/or costumes (see other examples in the National Library of Australia – a cowboy theme – and the Stanton Library, North Sydney – a bi-plane theme). The studio printed these photographs in postcard format so that they could be mailed to family and friends.
We have not seen one of these prison shots before. Perhaps mother got a brief shock when she opened her son’s letter, to see him in convict stripes behind bars.