Frazer Smith Crawford

Crawford was a professional photographer and lithographer born in Scotland. He was in Melbourne by 1859 with his studio at 83 Swanston Street. Crawford was a council member of the Photographic Society of Victoria in 1860, then moved to Sydney later in the year. In January 1861 he advertised that he was about to leave New South Wales and for Adelaide working in the Surveyor General’s office from around 1868.

From Art Gallery of South Australia: In July and August 1866 Walter William Thwaites senior discussed the possibility of establishing a government photolithographic department with the Surveyor General, G.W. Goyder, hoping his son Hector James Thwaites could be employed as his assistant. Other photographers who applied for the position were Henry Anson and F.S. Crawford. Frazer Crawford of the Adelaide Photographic Company was appointed to the position, and by December 1866 he was in Melbourne looking for the equipment needed to establish the new department, but could not find a large camera or supply of large glass plates. An order for a 16 x 18-inch camera and accessories was sent to London, and with his order for glass plates he instructed the supplier to pack them carefully, as some plates imported from England for the Adelaide Photographic Company had been spoiled ‘owing to the glass sweating on the voyage.’ Chemicals and processing equipment were ordered from Johnson & Co. of Melbourne. On 7 December, while staying at the Globe Hotel in Swanston Street, Crawford wrote to John Noone, the newly appointed Victorian Government photo-lithographer, asking if he could ‘witness the practical details’ of Noone’s department and take ‘such notes of buildings, apparatus, &c.’ that he thought may be of use in a similar department in Adelaide. In his reply Noone said he had spent a lot of time learning the process and would not ‘impart such information unless your government is willing to remunerate me.

When told that Crawford did not have the authority to promise remuneration Noone relented, informing Crawford that he would provide all the necessary information and leave it to the South Australian government to provide appropriate remuneration. Noone told Crawford that ‘many persons have asked me for the information I now offer to impart to you and expressed their willingness to pay for the same. Amongst others a Mr Deveril … at Ballarat who informed me that he had made an application [for] the appointment you now hold, and who in the event of obtaining it would have been willing to pay me a considerable sum for my trouble in teaching him.’ By the end of December 1866 Crawford had been shown the process and had returned to Adelaide. He rented Freeman & Belcher’s former studio opposite the Town Hall in King William Street for a temporary photolithographic office, taking them for a period of four months from 16 February at £2 per week until a new office was built. A Mr (H.?) Perry was engaged as an assistant on a weekly salary of £3, to be paid from the labourer’s list.

One of Crawford’s first assignments was to photograph the prisoners at the stockade (Yatala) and at the Gaol. By the end of August 1867 Crawford had supplied 150 carte de visite portraits of prisoners to the Commissioner of Police.

Frazer Crawford was over seventy years of age and still employed as Government Photolithographer when he died suddenly from heart disease at his Norwood home on 29 October 1890. His successor was his assistant, Alfred Vaughan. A Public Service Commission inquiry had earlier recommended that Vaughan be made head of the department and other work found for the aging Mr Crawford.

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