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Charles Trödel

German, 1835 - 1906

Institution: C. Trödel and Co., Trödel & Cooper Ltd.
Johannes Theodor Carl Trödel was born in 1835 in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany and died on 31 October, 1906 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Known simply as 'Charles Trödel', he was one of Melbourne's finest lithographers.

Trödel was trained in lithography by his father. After working in both Germany and Norway he was brought to Melbourne, Australia by A. W. Schuhkrafft who was visiting Europe in order to recruit staff for his Melbourne printing business. Trödel traveled with his friend Robert Wendel; a brilliant lithographic draftsman and artist who would be one of his main collaborators for many years.

Trödel arrived in Melbourne on 5 February, 1860 aboard the GREAT BRITAIN. He worked at Schuhkrafft's Wholesale Paper Bag Manufacturing and Printing Company at 178 Elizabeth St., Melbourne for three years. During this time he came into contact with artist and French teacher François Cogné (1829-1883) who had produced the 'Ballarat Album' in 1859. The album was comprised of sixteen lithographic views of Ballarat (Victoria's largest inland city), all after photographs by William Bardwell. Cogné proposed working with Trödel on a 'Melbourne Album.' In July, 1863, advertisements appeared in the Argus, the Age and the Herald announcing the first two lithographs that would appear in the album. Their production was conducted under the vice-regal patronage of the then Governor of Victoria, Sir Henry Barkly.

The first two lithographs in what would eventually become a set of twenty four were generally well received by reviewers in the press. They certainly must have been financially rewarding for Trödel who was able to import his own printing press from Europe and to establish the Melbourne Album office; a small shop located at 73 Collins St., Melbourne. Cogné acted as the artist for the first twelve and possibly a further three that are anonymous. After he left Australia in 1864 the artistic duties for the album were taken up by lithographers James Buckingham Philip (1830-?) and, later, Edward Gilks (1822-?).

Although the principles of lithographic printing are simple, it is in practice so complex and sensitive a task that traditionally most artists have made lithographs in collaboration with professional printers; the artist needs to have a sophisticated understanding of colour and the printer requires perfect registration. Nicholas Chevalier's 'Album of Chromolithographs' is a perfect illustration of this point. Made up of twelve chromolithographs, this album was published by Trödel in 1865 (from 1864 in parts). These were the first chromolithographs published in Australia, and Trödel and Chevalier were both awarded medals in the 1866 Melbourne International Exhibition for their work in chromolithography.

Aged 32, Trödel was naturalized on 19 March, 1869. He had turned 33 when he married Julia Sarah Glover, daughter of a contractor, on 29 June, 1869 at St Paul's Church of England, Melbourne; they had five sons and three daughters. He was a member of the Victorian Master Printers' Association from the early 1880s and was a member of the wages board for the printing industry about 1900. By 1877 he was trading in Sydney as C. Troedel & Co. and in 1891 he formed a partnership in Sydney with Edward Cooper, who had joined him at 13, but Cooper soon returned to the Melbourne business.

As the success of the Melbourne Album and Chevalier's Album of Chromolithographs proved, Charles Trödel understood the value of collaborating with first-class artists and lithographers. One such artist was Robert Wendel, who produced many of the posters in the Trödel Collection, as well as the chromolithographs for the 'New South Wales' Album (published 1878) and the magnificent colour plates, many from drawings by Baldwin Spencer, which illustrate the zoological and anthropological volumes of Spencer's 'Report on the Work of the Horn Scientific Expedition to Central Australia, 1896'.

Trödel died of cancer on 31 October 1906 at St Kilda Road, Prahran, survived by his wife, two daughters and four sons, of whom Walter, Rudolph and Ferdinand joined their father's business. His estate was valued for probate at £8044. Although not the first of Melbourne's lithographers, Trödel was the most distinguished, and the work produced under his direction is of the highest quality, ranging from the twenty-four prints of the 'Melbourne Album' through to a very large range of theatrical and other posters, labels and book illustrations. In 1968 the firm of Troedel & Cooper Ltd (formed in 1910) presented to the Library Council of Victoria with its remarkable collection of lithographs of all kinds. They are now housed in the La Trobe Library.