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Photograph album containing images of racing yachts on Sydney Harbour

Date: c 1902
Overall: 210 x 170 x 25 mm, 150 g
Medium: Photographic prints, ink on paper, cardboard
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from David Marks
Object Name: Photograph album
Object No: 00054403
Place Manufactured:Sydney
Related Place:Sydney,

User Terms

    This album of 24 black and white photograph prints belonged to yachtsman Walter Marks. The images depict gaff-rigged sailing yachts racing on Sydney Harbour in the early 1900s. They are understood to have been taken by William Frederick Hall and his son William James Hall, both well-known photographers in Sydney, and yacht images were one of their specialties. A number of the yachts were part of the 30 Foot Linear Rating Class, including CULWULLA, owned by Walter Marks.
    SignificanceThis album of 24 black and white photographs from the early 1900s contains rare images of racing yachts on Sydney Harbour in the early 1900s, taken by well-known photographers William Frederick Hall and his son William James Hall. The album belonged to Walter Marks, one of the premier yachtsman of the period and includes images of his boat CULWULLA, a 30 Foot Linear Rater. It also has images of almost all the other 30 footers that raced as a class and helped revive yachting in that period.

    There are images of some of the larger yachts, such as BONA, IDUNA and ISEA (Marks' previous yacht) and the background of the Harbour is clearly visible as well, showing the landmarks and features as they appeared at that time. A large amount of detail on the yachts can also be seen, making them a valuable record of how the craft were fitted out and rigged.

    HistoryWilliam Frederick Hall, formerly a butcher from England, became a well-known photographer whose photographic career in Sydney spanned a number of decades. He was a fingerprint expert at Long Bay Gaol and set up a photographic studio in Sydney in 1890. He and his wife, Caroline Asimus, had a son William James Hall (1877–1951), who followed his father's lead and became a photographer.

    Although neither the father nor the son were sailors, both developed a keen interest in sailing and sailing craft. During the late 1880s and early 1890s, William Frederick Hall documented the weekend sailors and yachts of Sydney Harbour. William James Hall took over the tradition until the early 1930s, capturing photographs from his motor boat.

    A number of photographic studios were established by William F Hall and William J Hall. Known at different times as Hall Studio, Hall & Co, W F Hall and Hall W, the businesses were located variously at 7 Castlereagh Street, 39, 44 and 70 Hunter Street, 91 Phillip Street and 21 Bligh Street in Sydney city from 1890 onwards. Their images of sailing, yachts and motor launches on Sydney Harbour and nearby are extremely well-known and highly respected for their composition and the detail they have recorded.

    The yachts in the album include AENONE, BONA, COOYA, CULWULLA ,DEFENDER, FLEETWING, HEATHER, HERRESCHOFF, IDUNA, ISEA, JANET, JESS, SAPPHIRE, MAGIC, PETREL, SUNBEAM, WHITE WINGS and one unknown - sail Number 20. BONA and IDUNA were two of the larger yachts of the time, and ISEA was almost as big. IDUNA and ISEA were also two of the older yachts, having been built in 1887/88 to designs by Walter Reeks, the premier Australian naval architect. He redesigned ISEA in the late 1890s for owner Walter Marks, who was the original owner of this album. It also contains images of Marks’ next yacht CULWULLA, a 30 Foot Linear Rater from 1901. The album includes excellent images of almost all the other 30 footers that raced as a class and helped revive yachting on the harbour in that period.

    Walter Marks (1875-1951) was well-known as a lawyer, yachtsman and politician. He became a solicitor in 1902, and inherited great wealth in 1912. Marks served in Federal Parliament as the member for Wentworth from 1919 to 1931, and was called ‘Douglas Fairbanks’ by his colleagues.

    Marks became involved in yachting in the 1890s, when he purchased the Walter Reeks-designed ISEA. With Reeks consulting, significant modifications were made and Marks had success with ISEA over a number of seasons racing, before he commissioned CULWULLA from Logan Bros in 1901.

    Marks was invited to join the crew of English yacht SHAMROCK IV when they were preparing to challenge for the America’s Cup in 1914, but when World War One broke out the challenge was deferred. Marks then served with the Royal Navy and returned to Australia at the war’s end. He was a member of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, and Sydney Amateur Sailing Club.

    CULLWULLA and PETREL are the only two yachts in the images that are still known to exist, and both need major restoration projects. CULLWULLA is listed on the ARHV - HV000306.

    Yachting was a major pastime on Sydney Harbour, and well-established by the mid-1800s. A number of clubs were formed, catering for all classes and types of sailing vessel, and for their owners from different backgrounds. Yachts tended to belong to successful businessmen, and their clubs such as the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron reflected the class structure of the time. Races were held throughout summertime, and in Sydney most were restricted to Sydney Harbour and other enclosed waterways, with occasional short offshore events. It was popular with the public who came to watch many important races when they were held on the harbour, gathering on the foreshores or watching from ferries that followed the races. Races were widely reported in the media as well, including drawn illustrations of the yachts, which were later replaced by early versions of photographs.

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