In mylar pockets. **Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that this archive contains images of people who have died.
Small archive of thirteen photographs (12 x black and white, 1 x colour). Eight 1500 x 1600mm images (seven desert crossing images and one homestead image) and four 500x500mm taken at and around Colson's Blood Creek homestead and one 500x600mm colour photo taken at Birdsville (circa early 1980s). All but one image have hand-written notes on the verso to Val and Jean, Ted Colson’s nephew and niece. Valentine Moyle and his half-sister Jean received these in 1936 when Val was 10 years old. His mother Emily (nee Horne) was sister to Ted’s wife Alice. The one colour snapshot is of Val as a grown man together with his wife at Colson’s memorial opposite the Birdsville Pub. Of the desert crossing photographs only two are in sharp focus - the others just a little blurred, as though taken from the back of a moving camel, which they likely were. The smaller homestead images are sharply defined. Very good. Item #273
What are most notable about the desert crossing photographs are the holograph notes on the versos in Ted Colson's hand.
Edmund Albert ‘Ted’ Colson was the first non-indigneous man to cross of the Simpson Desert in 1936. His only companion was Eringa Peter of the Antakurinya tribe (pictured in one of the photographs in the distance on a camel). The Simpson Desert, the largest sand desert in the world, had previously defeated Charles Sturt and David Lindsay, but Colson and Peter were able to take advantage of an exceptionally good wet season to make the crossing on camel. Colson set out from his homestead Blood Creek at Mt Etingamba in the S.E. corner of Northern Territory on 26th of May and he and Peter walked into the Birdsville pub, Queensland, sixteen days later on the 11th of June. Three days after that they headed back again. Colson did not formally publish and so for some years the kudos for first crossing went to Rhodes scholar and Australian explorer Cecil Madigan, who led an expedition across the Simpson desert in 1939.
Only two institutions worldwide (both in South Australia) hold photographs of Colson's crossing of the Simpson: The State Library of South Australia holds Colson’s journal, field notes and a collection of 26 expedition photographs. The Royal Geographical Society of South Australia holds 40 photographs, handwritten index sheets and an article on Ted Colson & Peter Haines from the Coober Pedy Times. The four smaller images taken around the Blood Creek homestead are not institutionally held.
The expedition images on offer here are larger than those held by the State Library of South Australia, most of which are 500mm x 600mm or 5 x 5cm. Those held by the Royal Geographical Society of South Australia are only slightly smaller 14 x 14cm. The larger format provided Ted Colson with ample room for the avuncular messages. As Colson explains on one photograph addressed to his nephew Vaentine Moylel, “This is enlarged from my little prints”, he also provides co-ordinates on the back of one photo and exhorts his then 10-year-old nephew to “look it up” on his map. There does not appear to be any new information contained in the notes, but the general tone confirms the picture of Colson as a well liked story-teller, and adds a dimension of his interest in, and affection for, his two young relatives.
Colson was not overly fond of punctuation as the notes on the verso of the large images show:
· "This is Bloods' Creek Homestead with creek in the background The stones in the foreground are the typical "Gibbers" They are not to be seen on the desert (sand) until nearing Birdsville in Queensland"
· "My camels having their last drink before starting to cross the "desert" they had no more water for eight days, but was not thirsty, due to green herbage en route. Coming back they had no drink for twelve days and were quite alright This water is in the Finke River SA right on western side of Desert"
· “This is my No.1 Lake partly in S.A. partly in Nor” Territory. The Hill I took the snap from is the only hill apart from sand hill I saw for nearly 200 miles, it is a twin hill not very high of tertiary formation (look that up) I found another group of hills on Western side of Desert they are to be called “Alice Hills”
· "In the heart of the Simpson Desert Would you have liked to have been there When I go next year I will have two scientists with me, a Geologist and Botanist the first to study thesand hills the second the botanical side"
· "This shows the lower class of sand hill with generally good growth of feed between"
· "To Val This is enlarged from my little prints Evening on an unchartered Salt Lake (fry) approx 26 Lat.S 130 30' Long E so you can mark it on your map, there is seven more I found. Al West of what is known as Poepell's Corner if you look carefully on your maps you will find four only charted about 2'ld. S.A. - N.T. CornerThey are Lake Thomas, Lake Poepells and two unnamed lake I crossed eight others before I came to them."
· "To Jean with love from un' Ted This is one of the uncharted lakes I found the picture was taken from the back of my ridding came has we went along The angle in foreground is my rifle butt and looking right along the line of camels you can see my black boy ridding in the lead"
· "This is Blurred but shows the nice growth of feed grass herbage shrub the trees are "Gidgee"
Notes on the versos of the smaller images read:
· "To Val wishing him a happy Xmas with love from Uncle Ted - This is Jimmy Jimmy dressed up for visiting"
· 'Lilly and Fanny"
One appears to be in a different hand and Colson's great-niece Ms Jane Moyle has suggested that it might be the hand of Ted’s wife “Aunty Alice”:
· "Lizzie and Rita caught these emus at the House"
And the later colour photo is in a different hand again:
· "Birdsville. Ted Colson's memorial oppos. the pub. Valentine Moyle (Val) & wife Miriam Moyle Val was Ted's nephew Val's mother and Ted's wife were sisters Alice and Emily Horne"
PROVENANCE: The photos come from a Ted Colson's great niece, Valentine Moyle's daughter, and are being offered for sale for the first time.