With special thanks to Dean and Anne Middlebrook for allowing us access to this amazing collection of early photographs of Waihi and the Coromandel, and to Doreen (Penne) Pennell for helping to arrange it.
The Middlebrook family from Australia have a collection of old stereoscopic photographs that came originally from Dean Middlebrook's now-deceased step-father who lived in Newcastle, NSW, Australia. Since Dean had always shown an interest in the photographs as a child, his step-father bequeathed them to him. It is thought that the photographs originally belonged to the step-father's first wife, whose name has now been forgotten. The photographer may even have been from a generation prior to this unknown wife.
All we do know for certain is that sometime near the end of 1901, an Australian photographer came to New Zealand with a stereographic camera and took this collection of photographs. Once they were developed, he mounted them into frames suitable for viewing with a stereoscope and wrote labels for most of them, either on the frames or on the reverse side. There are 84 photographs in the entire collection which have been taken all over New Zealand. This included photographs taken in the immediate aftermath of a severe earthquake and aftershocks in Cheviot, North Canterbury. An article in the Otago Daily Times of 19 November 1901 indicates that the earthquakes had occurred in the previous few days. This helps us date the photographs taken in Waihi and Coromandel as being towards the end of 1901.
However it now seems likely that the photographer was associated in some way with the mining industry, perhaps as a sales representative for an Australian Mining Equipment company. It is most likely that this trip to Waihi and the Coromandel occurred sometime between 1897 and 1898. For further explanations of the dating of the photographs, and a description of the stereoscopic camera, see Part I of this article
As well as undertaking his tour of the Waihi Gold Field, our photographer took a trip to Coromandel, where, apart from photographing the scenery, he was particularly interested in photographing the local people on their farms.
If you can help to identify any of these photographs or have further information, please contact the author, Kae Lewis.