THE NONPARIEL PHOTOGRAPHIC CO.
Views of Fremantle, Western Australia by The Nonpariel Photographic Co.
[Cover title]. [Fremantle? Perth?] : The Nonpariel Photographic Co., . Late nineteenth century album, oblong quarto (245 x 310 mm), original blind blocked pebbled cloth boards (bowed, some flecking and mild staining), upper board with original red morocco title label lettered in gilt ‘Views of Fremantle, Western Australia by The Nonpariel Photographic Co.’; floral-patterned lining papers (foxed),  uncaptioned albumen print photographs in uniform format 155 x 205 mm, mounted on rectos of 12 leaves of gilt-edged card, with the following subjects:  View of vessels loading cargo at the main pier; [2 & 3] Views of the inner harbour from the Round House;  View looking north across the railway goods yards;  View of the outer harbour;  View along Queen Street from the railway line towards Kings Square;  View along High Street looking towards the harbour (?);  View of the T.W. Mews shipyard in Bathers Bay, with the second lighthouse built on Arthur Head in the background;  View looking northwest along William Street towards the Town Hall;  View overlooking Fremantle from the southeast;  View of the Swan River from the East Fremantle foreshore;  View of Fremantle Old Traffic Bridge; the first albumen print and its mount with mild foxing, otherwise the prints and mounts are in good condition throughout; the prints with occasional slight loss of contrast, but generally strong and with excellent detail.
We can find precious little information about the little-known The Nonpariel Photographic Company, which was presumably based in either Fremantle or Perth. This is very possibly due to the company’s misspelling of its own name, since a search of Western Australian newspapers of the late nineteenth century using the journalist-corrected spelling of the word Nonpareil leads us to a notice that appeared in The West Australian on 12 and 13 February 1892, regarding this very album:
‘WE have received from the Nonpareil Photographic Company, through their Fremantle representative, Mr. W. J. Gardiner, a beautifully mounted book of Fremantle views. The pictures are faithfully and clearly taken, and the collection altogether is one which will afford a pleasing memento of the port and its environs.’
The Battye Library (SLWA) holds the only example of this album in Australian collections (call no. 4884B), for which the catalogue entry gives an earlier (and apparently incorrect) estimated date range of 1880-1889. The Battye album is the only other surviving example of the album we can trace. Furthermore, only three individual photographs by the Nonpariel Photographic Co. – all with Perth or Fremantle subjects – are listed on Trove (again, all of these are held in the Battye Library).