Newsletter Issue Number:
AICCM National Newsletter No 162 December 2023
Holly McGowan-Jackson

Detail of Thallon’s ledger, including entries for the artist John Longstaff. The entry on Nov 10 has been identified as the frame for Longstaff’s Mrs John H. Connell, 1900, NGV.

John Thallon was Melbourne’s preeminent picture framer for artists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Through the work of the National Gallery of Victoria’s Centre for Frame Research, Thallon’s ledger book of client orders has been transcribed and digitised, and is now available for all on the NGV website

This historic primary source document consists of 168 pages detailing client orders, handwritten in ink, and illustrated with sketches of frames in cross-section. The ledger provides insights into the day-to-day work of Thallon’s framing business between 1888 and 1903, which also included services such as art packing and transport, the production of architectural and furniture items, frame and painting restoration, and the supply of artists materials.

The huge task of transcribing the information from the ledger into a digital spreadsheet was undertaken by Dominic King and Bella Lipson-Smith over several weeks in 2020, while working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, each of the approximately 285 clients listed in the ledger were researched and a summary written, with this work being completed by members of the Conservation Department during Melbourne’s extended lockdowns.

NGV Multimedia has done an amazing job of presenting the transcription information with the high-resolution images of the ledger. They have also created a multi-term search function, which is invaluable for researching specific artists as well as other clients and different frame types, amongst a multitude of other possibilities. With an accompanying essay, glossary and transcription guide, there is plenty to discover!

This project was made possible with the kind permission of Jarman Framing, owner of Thallon’s ledger, and the generous support of the Professor AGL Shaw (AO) Bequest.


The transcription for the entry above.


Client pop-up for Longstaff


John Longstaff Mrs John H. Connell 1900, oil on canvas, 188.6 x 107.4cm, National Gallery of Victoria, Gift of Mr John H. Connell, 1914, 655-2. The painting retains the original cassetta frame noted in Thallon’s ledger.