Submitted by jays on 28 January 2014 - 11:44pm

This hand-coloured ambrotype is the master image of the bushranger Ben Hall (1837-1865), taken at the height of his brief, inglorious, career. Although the photograph’s collodion emulsion has been damaged, perhaps deliberately defaced, the picture still conveys something of the rakish good looks and air of defiance that, along with Hall’s reputation for reckless daring and courtesy to women, won him an admiring regard among small settlers and bush workers in the western district of New South Wales. He is dressed as a flash young squatter, wearing moleskin trousers tucked into riding boots, with a fringed cravat tied under his collar and a cabbage tree hat to hand.  In the NSW Police Gazette of 18 November 1863 he is described as being  of ‘respectable appearance’ with light brown wavy hair, soft grey eyes, handsome nose and ’pleasing expression of countenance’.  Ben Hall’s bushranging career began in April 1862. A reward was posted for his apprehension in October 1863 and he was about to be declared an outlaw in May 1865 when he was ambushed and shot dead by police near Goobang Creek on the Lachlan River plain. The ambrotype came into police possession at that time.

Photograph: Jenni Carter, 2008
Ben Hall (c1861) Ben Hall (c1861) Ben Hall (c1861)
Justice & Police Museum