I never know what I'll find going through the Beattie negative collection. There is no catalogue, no list. Just boxes of negatives in paper bags with numbers on them. Sometimes a bag will have something written on it, mostly they don't. Sometimes a negative has a title, often they don't. It's like a lucky dip.
The box I just finished was called the groups box. Most of the shots are of groups of people. Sporting groups, school groups, teacher groups, clubs, organisations and business groups. Most of the ones that are dated were taken in the 1930's.
This box did at times feel like it would be the death of me. So many different sizes, subjects and the quality ranged from poor to excellent. Some negatives were eaten away by some chemical residue unknown. With others, the paper bags were rotted to dust that fell off when I lifted the negative out. A lot were glass plates, but there were whole plates, half plates and those glorious custom sizes where a piece of film left over was cut to size, lest it go to waste. Hey, I even found a photographic copy of Cloe, the famous nude from Melbourne, although she won't make the web site.
Most of the photos are still with the (incredibly talented) retouchers. But many are available today on the web site. Check out the People gallery.