Is this a photo of John Mc and Ned ?




Christies catalogue in which the above lumberjack photo appears.







The photo appears to have been stuck onto a grey mount which is crumbling away along the bottom.
On the top left hand corner there is a shadow created by the thin photo paper lifting and similarly bottom left and right. This tells us the photo is clearly pasted onto the grey mount, and the thinness of photo paper being more durable than the grey mount. Whoever created this copy did a fairly average job. The photo and grey mount were then again mounted onto a white card which is water stained at the bottom. Some fungal mo
isture dots appear to indicate the three layers have been together for a long while probably behind glass. The absence of the photographers or copiers name is not helpful.

No doubt it's a wonderful photo. My prediction is its John McMonigle and Ned Kelly (right)
It seems amazing that till this day the left figure has not been identified by descendants of both Kelly and a McMonigle, whom I have met, and the likeness is compelling. This is the reason I believe the photo is John and Ned as mates earning a living.

This tweaked image has had the printers dot raster smoothed out. The wood cutters pose for the photo said to be taken in 1874.
If it is John McMonigle, he was a leading hand at local sawmills and became one of Ned's closest friends. However these fellows
are cutting railway sleepers with axes, a poor way for a sawmill to cut sleepers. This suggests they were not working for a sawmill.

For six months the 'Ned Kelly Vault' at Beechworth were sending out teasers about the photo find of the century of Ned Kelly for final release 12 Nov 2016. But well before this release date some Kelly researchers predicted the photo was no more than the sleeper cutters photo as shown as item 123 in the Christie's catalogue of 2002. And to no one's surprise it was the wood cutters photo, so not exactly the find of the century!

Not much to the liking of the Vault,  'Ned Kelly blog -Death of the Legend' spilt the beans as Sneak Preview and for a few months there was the long wait for the mystery photo to be revealed, to deflated applause. Then on Face Book
The Ned Kelly Vault, and Ned Kelly Central photo debate there were heaps of likes and ongoing debate about whether the photo is in fact Ned Kelly at all? Some  of the Kelly descendants believe it is Ned while others reckon its not. The trouble seems to be who owns the photo and who is going to benefit from any pending sale if it is Ned? It could be worth hundreds of thousands or even millions if the photo of US outlaw Billy the Kid, or the recently found photo of Jessie James is any guide. Lets hope it is the find of the century and worth millions. That's not a problem, but I'm only trying to have the photo verified as I'm only a rational amateur willing to ask questions few others do.

The owners have chosen to display the photo at the Vault but in a peculiar way. Visitors wanting to see the photo having to look into a viewer box like a peep show so that nobody can  take a photo of it. That's like a shoe box panorama with peep hole we used to make when we were kids. This is kids stuff.

I've never had the need of knowing how to maximise the value of a photo. It must firstly be properly identified and agreed by the experts the photo fits the period of Ned. It would appear the Vault did not know what to do as with the owners, who don't want to be publicly identified, dictated how the photo was to be displayed, and fair enough, but why make the photo only viewable through a peepshow? Do they think the photo will be de-valued if anyone who wants a free copy can do so from here?














Are these two photos of the same person?

In the image above Ned Kelly has a wedge shaped lower face while the left figure is more chubby and rounded.

Its quite possible the two images have similar Kelly likenesses because the axeman photo could be Ned's step brother, son of Ellen Kelly King, as photographed during the late 1890s.

If Ned was 26 in 1880, Ellen King's son would have been 10, and 20 in 1890, or there abouts.

It seems quite simple, get the families together and compare the origin of this copy with any other variable said to exist.

Despite numerous comments on the Ned Kelly Central Face-Book page about the photo, I found my last comment deleted due to animosity towards me because of my deeper digging.

For reasons I will explain by points below, its probably not Ned.

First point,
Is it a co-incidence the experts believe the clothing is of the 1890s era as is the photo print?

With Elsie Pettifer suggesting it is her father Walter Knight and his brother in law Jack Kelly King,
this throws huge doubts for the photo to be Ned and his mate John Mc.

Below:  Walter Knight, with daughters Lillian and Alice (right)      Below:Walter Knight and perhaps Walter as a young man right.





Despite the slight camera angle differences there is a striking resemblance between the two men. The rounded chin, pronounced cheek bones, eyes, moustache are all similar. The enlargement of Walter Knight has been flipped to be more consistent with the wood cutters  photo. The caption under the family  photo (left) may not be correct.

The reddish image (Right) has been uploaded to Ned Kelly Vault by a Knight descendant. Contrary to their claim there is a strong likeness to the wood cutters photo, with or without the hat. The features are compelling. By the posting at the NK-Vault, the Knight family are adamant Walter with hat is not the same person as in the sleeper cutters photo. Take a look at his depth of nose, the high cheek bones, the eyes, the roundness of the chin. No doubt its Walter mid 1880s.

Photos of Walter Henry Knight, courtesy of Gary Dean and
Dagmar Balcarek's book  'Ned and the Others' 1999 Publisher GlenRowen Cobb & Co

Third point,
At this stage there is no reason to believe a 'Carte de Visite' or earlier photo of the men ever existed from which this copy was supposedly made. The lack of quality mounting suggests the time for finely crafted brand Cartes had passed. 
I mention this on the basis that a Card of the Visit 'Carte' usually has a proportion of height to width ratio higher than this copy which is 1 high to 1.36 wide. If an original photo was to be re photographed, I would think the photographer kept the original proportions. This idea can't be proven because the original is not or may not be in existence. However Matt Shore tells us on NKC a second variant is known to be with the Kelly family, so with this mention of another taken on the same day with the men near a large log at the sawmill, then perhaps if it turns up, both photos need to viewed together and examined by photo experts for very close analysis. Unless this can be done, doubts as to the identity of the figures will remain.

The figure (right) is supposed to be wearing a Long-John under garment that's got buttons on the front, and seems torn at the top. It maybe a Long-John but I first thought it was a singlet (I maybe wrong). If it was a Long-John one-zy, it would have buttons on the front that Leigh Olver says are visible on the hi res image. However, trawling the internet for Long-Johns we see dozens of  boxers wearing them, but they all seem to have been taken during the Victorian era 1880s and later. This is probably the reason the experts reckon the photo was taken during the 1880s-90s. The Ned boxing photo does show him wearing what looks like long johns but can we see any buttons on his front? Can anyone confirm this please?

More questions asked,
Why would the owners of the photo place such viewing restrictions on the photo as currently displayed at the Vault if it is Ned? Are the owners unsure its Ned and want to create debate only to confirm its Ned? - Hence they think more publicity more interest, more value? Interestingly if it is Ned it could be priceless even without all this wrangling. Why are they so paranoid about NOT letting everyone see the photo in its entirety and fine detail, except for those that can get to Beechworth and pay their penny?

From all this above, I get a feeling it is not Ned also based on his rounded plumpy cheeks, not like his earlier mugshot.
Think maybe Elsie Pettifer got it right.

Photo historian 'Andrew' at our Camera House said-
The photo can be dated just by looking at the paper, the quality and type of image, and whether it is a copy taken as through another camera. And "Unless the original or the copy is put on display where experts can view the photo properly, its just a bloke with a beard"

Links, The Ned Kelly Vault         Ned Kelly Central photo debate

Ned Kelly :Death of the Legend  Ned photo Sneak Preview The unforgotten Photo of Ned Kelly





This page at where Kelly researchers can reveal their findings without fear or favour. 
Copyright: Bill Denheld 20 Dec 2016