The Photohistory SA website was developed by South Australia’s highly respected photohistorian Robert James ‘Bob’ Noye in the late 1990s. It forms part of a huge legacy of early South Australian photography known as the R.J. Noye Collection. When Bob Noye died in August 2002 his website was still at the developmental stage and, other than this introduction and some links, has not been altered since his final update. The R.J. Noye Collection of Photography is now owned by the Art Gallery of South Australia, its purchase having been funded by Douglas and Barbara Mullins. The site has been archived so that it remains just as Bob Noye created it. It presents only the research that Bob had uploaded to the site prior to his death and is therefore incomplete. The Gallery is in the process of putting the R.J. Noye Collection on line and it will be accessible to all South Australians via the Gallery’s website in the foreseeable future. Enquiries about the collection can be directed to the Art Gallery of South Australia using the email link at the bottom of this page.

R.J. ‘Bob’ Noye 16/7/1932 – 17/8/2002

R.J. ‘Bob’ Noye was one of South Australia’s most prolific and respected historians. He died suddenly of a heart attack at his home in Clare in August 2002 and his death was a great loss to his family, his local community and to all those who valued his contribution to the research of the state’s early photographic history. Bob was born in Millicent in 1932 and later lived in Saddleworth with his wife Jenny before settling the family in Clare in 1971. He worked for the Postmaster General’s Department (later Telecom) for 42 years. Bob became interested in history in the early 1960s and went on to publish the very successful Clare: A District History in 1974. He also wrote a very popular weekly column for the Northern Argus called Talking History.

As well as creating this website, he amassed an impressive collection of nineteenth-and early twentieth-century South Australian photography and undertook extensive research on a vast number of early South Australian photographers. Bob Noye contributed original photographs, as well as prints made from his glass negative collection, to exhibitions featuring such notable photographers as Henry Tilbrook and Paul Foelsche at the Art Gallery of South Australia, the South Australian Museum and to interstate exhibitions. Bob was an avid explorer of modern technology and printing methods, investigating their applications for reproducing the work of early photographers. He used his own enlarger to reproduce photographs from early glass plate negatives and wrote that ‘the value of old negatives lies in the fine detail they contain…which can now be brought out by modern enlarging and printing processes’. He would no doubt have been impressed with the fine detail obtained from his original Foelsche negatives in the high resolution digital prints created for South Australian Museum’s 2005 exhibition The Policeman’s Eye: the frontier photography of Paul Foelsche. Now in the care of the Art Gallery of South Australia, Bob Noye’s collection will continue to be made available to a wide audience via online access and future exhibitions, just as he would have wished.

The following is Bob Noye's original introduction to this website ...

"I began researching the history of South Australian photography in the early 1960s and over the years I  accumulated a large store of information and images, intending one day to write a book on the subject. But how to present this information became a problem. I could take the very best of what I had found and produce a volume that would appeal to a publisher, but that would mean leaving out a large amount of useful information.

I felt the only way I could make use of the available information was to present it in the form of a cyclopedia of South Australian photographic history, a straightforward reference presented as a series of entries in alphabetical order, from Acetylene and Adamson to Ziegler and Zoetrope.

Then about a year ago a Brisbane photo-historian, Marcel Safier, established contact with me and we shared our research experiences. Through him I became aware of the infinite opportunities that are available on the Internet, and soon realised that here was a way that I could make my cyclopedia available to anyone interested in the subject. There would be no royalties to help offset my expenses, but regular additions and corrections to my work would be possible. My cyclopedia need never be out of date or out of print, and the latest edition could be accessed instantly by anyone anywhere in the world.

Before deciding on a format for a Web site I had to make a few assumptions. I assumed that most visitors to the site would be people with an interest in South Australian photographic history - researchers, students, genealogists, family historians. I also assumed they would be using a recent version of Netscape or Microsoft Explorer, and that their computers and monitors would be reasonably powerful. And I also thought that people using the site would be seeking information through words and images, and that they would be prepared to tolerate any delays caused by the down-loading of large image files.

This first stage of Photohistory SA was made available to the public on 22 June 1998 and contained 230 images and an unknown number of words."

R.J. Noye, 22 June 1998
archived by the Art Gallery of South Australia (9 September 2005)

Your enquiries regarding the R.J. Noye collection of South Australian photography can be addressed to:

Art Gallery of South Australia, North Terrace, South Australia  5000  or
Email  to:

You can visit the Art Gallery of South Australia’s website at


 The next page is CONTENTS where you will be directed to the various categories of subject matter.

Copyright      R.J. Noye   22 June 1998