Introduction

After the death of Charles Boyles, the photographer’s collection of glass plate negatives and assorted photographic prints remained in the care of the Boyles family. Eventually the family donated the collection to the State Library of Victoria and the National Sports Museum. The combined collection of over 1800 football photos provides the basis of the following discussion.

This website includes an article exploring the relationship, to other contemporary football images, of the colourised football team photos that were a feature of the Weekly Times and the Australasian in the late 1920’s. It was found that the Weekly Times colourised team photos (of 1928 and 1929) related to the 1929 Griffith Black Crow football cards; and that the 1929 Australasian colourised team photos related to the Suburban Premium cards of 1926-1929, the Godfrey Phillips cards of 1932, and player photos that appeared in the VFL Football Record between 1929 and 1932.1

The article below, a companion article, focuses on the connection of Charles Boyles to these same 1928-29 series of colourised football team photos, and raises a number of questions about his general photographic work in the 1920’s. These questions, for the most part, remain to be answered.

Charles Boyles was not known as a newspaper photographer. He was, and is, known mainly for his team and player photos, taken from the late twenties to the early sixties, that were sold inside football grounds on match days by his son Harley and others. However it is clear there was a connection between Boyles and the two aforementioned newspapers. What was the nature of this connection? Was he perhaps contracted to produce photos for either or both of these newspapers?

The other related mystery is the nature of Boyles’s employment in the twenties. In 1928 Charles Boyles turned forty. By this time he had been a professional photographer for at least ten years. Both the State Library of NSW and the National Sports Museum have Boyles photos dating from the First World War, photos with a military theme. There are no known Boyles photos for the period from World War One through to 1928, though successive electoral rolls list his occupation as Photographer during that time.2

Interviews with Harley Boyles confirm that Charles Boyles was a photographer during the twenties, with Harley stating that his father commenced VFL work in the early to mid-twenties after starting with the VFA and minor football. Either this is incorrect, or there are more Boyles photos of the twenties yet to be found.

Earliest Known Boyles Football Photos


1928

The earliest known Boyles football photo is the photo of the Carlton 1928 team in the State Library of Victoria Pictures Collection (H2008.122/24). This particular photo is one of a group of ten Carlton photos entered in the State Library catalogue as one combined record containing Accession Numbers H2008.122/6; H2008.122/8; H2008.122/10; H2008.122/22; H2008.122/23; H2008.122/24; H2008.122/25; H2008.122/26; H2008.122/27; H2008.122/28.

The Library record has noted that the photographer's name is stamped on the verso of some of the prints, but not all of them. The catalogue specifically identifies the Carlton 1928 team photo with H2008.122/24: inscribed l.l.: C.E.B. Photo.

Carlton 1928 - H2008.122/24
Carlton Senior Team 1928 Source: H2008.122/24 State Library of Victoria Picture Collection

see Carlton Senior Team 1928 (SLV 122_024)
This 1928 Carlton team photo has a number of stylistic features typical of Boyles photos. Specifically, the photo shows three rows of players with 3+ players in the front row, and it is taken near the boundary line with the grandstand as background.

1929

The second earliest known Boyles football photo is his photo of a 1929 Carlton team (H2008.122/26). Again, the photo is from the State Library of Victoria Pictures Collection, and was donated by the Boyles family. The 1929 photo also fits the Boyles style, but in this case it is unclear whether there is a stamp on the verso of the photo.

Carlton Senior Team 1929 Source: H2008.122/26 State Library of Victoria Picture Collection
Carlton Senior Team 1929 Source: H2008.122/26 State Library of Victoria Picture Collection

See Carlton Senior Team 1929 (SLV 122_026)

One difference between the 1929 Carlton photo and the 1928 Carlton photo is the title “Carlton F.C. 1929” written on the front of the 1929 photo. This would have been written on the negative, not written on the photo, so the writing has been done by the photographer.

It is difficult to judge whether the writing on this 1929 photo is similar to the writing seen on other Boyles photos. The text snakes up and down, which is similar, but there is no full stop after the date, as in the case of many other Boyles photos. The number ‘9’ is distinctive, with the stroke being angled rather than straight up and down, and the letter ‘N’ is pointy and thick in the middle. In short, the writing does appear similar to other Boyles examples.

Carlton 1929 - Boyles Handwriting Comparison
Carlton 1929 - Boyles Handwriting Comparison


There is therefore strong evidence that both the 1928 and 1929 Carlton photos seen above were taken by Charles Boyles. If they were not actually taken by Boyles, he must have had access to the original of the photograph and gone to some effort in each case to assume ownership.

1930

There are many known Boyles photos from 1930. These 1930 photos include photos of Wednesday League teams, Thursday (Police) teams, and Saturday (VFA and VFL) teams. The list includes:

Although the State Library of Victoria and National Sports Museum have a combined total of over 1500 Boyles photos, these collections appear to be incomplete. A number of additional Boyles photos have been found in other collections, and a greater awareness of the photographer’s work is likely to turn up more of his photos from this early period.

Weekly Times and Australasian – The Boyles Connection


What makes the two earliest known Boyles photos even more intriguing is that each of them appeared as part of a series of team photos, and each of them appeared in one of two rival newspapers. The 1928 Carlton photo appeared in the 1928 Weekly Times series, albeit colourised and with the background removed. The 1929 Carlton photo appeared in the 1929 Australasian series, also colourised and with the background removed.

Neither newspaper photo is attributed to Boyles. Examples in the 1931 Australasian reveal that the Australasian did credit other photographers, which means that an attribution was expected. However, very few of Boyles’s photos appearing in publications were ever credited.

Carlton 1928 - H2008.122/24
Carlton Senior Team 1928 Source: H2008.122/24 State Library of Victoria Picture Collection
1928 Carlton Team - Source: 1928 Weekly Times - State Library of Victoria Newspaper Collection
1928 Carlton Team - Source: 1928 Weekly Times - State Library of Victoria Newspaper Collection
Carlton Senior Team 1929 Source: H2008.122/26 State Library of Victoria Picture Collection
Carlton Senior Team 1929 Source: H2008.122/26 State Library of Victoria Picture Collection
Carlton Team 1929 - The Australiasian 15-Jun-1929 Source: State Library of Victoria Pictures Collection
Carlton Team 1929 - The Australiasian 15-Jun-1929 Source: State Library of Victoria Pictures Collection


Other Connections


The team photos that appeared in the 1928 Weekly Times and 1929 Australasian were chopped up, and used as stock photos that appeared on football cards and in the VFL Football Record.

If Boyles was indeed the photographer of some of the Weekly Times and Australasian team photos, we would expect to find other connections, and indeed we do.

The 1929 Australasian team photos were used as the basis of a 1932 football card series called the 1932 Godfrey Phillips series. The Boyles photo of Port Melbourne full-back Joe Garbutt is the basis of a 1932 Godfrey Phillips card. The colours on Garbutt’s jumper have been reversed, but the face and the shadowing on the photo and the card are such exact matches that they can be overlaid for a perfect match.

Joe Garbutt merged photo, then separate 1932 card and Boyles photo
Joe Garbutt merged photo, then separate 1932 card and Boyles photo


Joe Garbutt - Source: State Library of Victoria Pictures Collection
Joe Garbutt - Source: State Library of Victoria Pictures Collection

See Garbutt, Joe (SLV 122_186)

After 1928 and 1929, the next team photo series produced by the Weekly Times was in 1934. Again we find a connection to Charles Boyles. This time a Boyles photo used for a colourised version of the 1934 Collingwood team. The State Library of Victoria has in their collection the original glass plate negative (H2008.122/87), although the photo is unattributed.

Collingwood Team 1934 Source:State Libray of Victoria Pictures Collection
Collingwood Team 1934 Source:State Libray of Victoria Pictures Collection
Weekly Times 26-May-1934 Collingwood - Source: 1928 Weekly Times - State Library of Victoria Newspaper Collection
Weekly Times 26-May-1934 Collingwood - Source: 1928 Weekly Times - State Library of Victoria Newspaper Collection


Questions


Where are the 1920’s negatives?
It is strange that the earliest known Boyles negative is from 1930, and the earliest known Boyles photo is from 1928. Boyles was then in his early forties and an experienced photographer. His descendants assert, and documentary records confirm, that Boyles was a photographer in the 1920s. If so, where are his negatives from the twenties, glass plate or otherwise? As yet, not even non-football Boyles photos from the 1920’s have turned up. It is possible that his 1920’s glass plates were are some time damaged, or destroyed - or they might never have existed.

If Charles Boyles worked for someone else, then the negatives would have belonged to the other studio and not to Boyles. Algernon Darge, for example, had a similar outdoor business with an outdoor mobile studio and also took photos at WW1 Army Camps.3 Darge also occasionally took football photos. However, Boyles’s son Harley is adamant that his father never worked for anyone, especially not a newspaper. Harley had never heard the name Darge.

According to Harley Boyles, Charles Boyles was on friendly terms with other professional photographers, and swapped photos with them.

Why was such a relatively unknown photographer entrusted with such important photos as those appearing in the Weekly Times and Australasian?
For their large colourised team photos, why would the Weekly Times rely on the work of a relatively unknown, untried street photographer. Surely they would have preferred to use their regular photographer, or someone already experienced in team photos.

Boyles appears to have taken at least one photo in each series. Did he take more? The Weekly Times photos are in his style, and the style of the photos in the 1929 Australasian series changes halfway through.
Perhaps Boyles was not quite so unknown and inexperienced. This may explain why he was involved with the two newspapers. This would also bolster the argument that there should be considerably more Boyles photos from the 1920’s.

How do we explain the fact that Boyles took photos for rival publications?
Boyles took one or more of the team photos appearing in the 1928 Weekly Times series, but did not take any of the team photos appearing in the 1929 Weekly Times (although these photos do match his style). Rather, one of his photos appeared in the rival 1929 Australasian where most of the photos do not match his style.

If Boyles did swap photos in the late 1920's, and the two photos here are photos he swapped for them, this still means that Boyles was taking photos in the 1920's, as he had to have his own photos if he was going to swap with others. One indication that he was not swapping photos regularly in the late 1920's and early 1930's is the lack of obvious photos by other photographers in the Boyles collections donated to the State Library and the National Sports Museum.

Why is there no attribution (to Boyles)?
Was Boyles contracted to work for the Weekly Times and/or the Australasian?

Conclusion

Further study of 1920’s football photos may well answer a number of these questions.


Boyles Website Newsletter

Just us sending out an email when we post a new article.
Image

End Notes


1. See Football Cards and the Football Record – the Link to the Australasian and Weekly Times 1928-29
2. Date - Address - Occupation
1919 - 14 Tope Street South Melbourne - Photographer
1924 - 61 Cecil Street South Melbourne - Photographer
1931 - 218 Lygon Street Brunswick - Photographer