Paul Foelsche Collection

Paul Heinrich Matthias Foelsche

Paul Foelsche




More than 300 Aboriginal artefacts collected from the Top End of the Northern Territory during the late 19th century by Paul Foelsche (284 registered artefacts in S.A. Museum collection).

Paul Foelsche (1831-1914) was appointed Sub-Inspector of Police in the Northern Territory in late 1869, taking up his position in early 1870. He was a pioneer photographer of Northern Territory landscapes, the town of Palmerston (later Darwin) and made a remarkable series of group and individual portraits of Larrakia, Woolna (Djerimanga), Iwaidja and other Aboriginal groups of the Top End. From the mid-1870s he began collecting ethnographic material, supplying International Exhibitions and the South Australian Museum, with well-documented artefacts.

Foelsche's ethnographic collection is accompanied by his original lists, giving language terms for objects, uses, and group affiliation.

Restricted access to secret sacred objects [no secret-sacred objects currently known in this collection, - access should be open]

Further information may be found in specimen documentation files, in the S.A. Museum website (see below) and in the publication; Paul Foelsche 1881, Notes on the Aborigines of North Australia, Transactions of the Royal Society of South Australia; Philip Jones 2005 The Policeman's Eye. The frontier photography of Paul Foelsche. Exhibition booklet, South Australian Museum, Adelaide; R. J. Noye, 'Foelsche, Paul Heinrich Matthias (1831 - 1914)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, Melbourne University Press, 1972, pp 192-193. A number of Foelsche's ethnographic objects, including ceremonial head-gear and ethnobotanical specimens, are displayed in the Australian Aboriginal Cultures Gallery, S.A. Museum. Online note: 'The Policeman's Eye: Paul Foelsche's Frontier Photography website Related collections: Associated archival component (specimen lists, glass negatives, albumen photographic prints, correspondence) held in the SAM Archives collections (esp. AA96; AA298); additional correspondence with John Lewis in PRG 247, State Library of S.A.; natural history specimens in S.A. Museum; botanical specimens in Melbourne Herbarium


Aboriginal artefacts; Aboriginal culture; Aboriginal peoples (Australians); Photography; Portrait photography; Portraits

Aboriginal artefacts; Aboriginal portraiture; Armbands; Australian Aboriginal material culture; Axes; Bags; Baskets; Belts; Boomerangs; Ceremonial headgear; Clubs; Containers; Cordage; Didgeridoo; Didjeridus; Early N.T. Photography; Ethno-botanical specimens; Feather plumes; Fire-making implements; Headbands; Iwaidja; Knives; Larrakia; Late 19th century; Medical charms; Message-sticks; Natural history; Necklaces; Nose-pegs; Ochres; Paul Foelsche; Sorcery objects; Spear-throwers; Spears; Woolnah (Djerimanga)

Aboriginal languages; Aboriginal peoples; Artefacts; Basketwork; Ceremonial objects; Ceremonies; Indigenous medicine; Photography; Portraits; Sorcery; Vocabularies

Anthropological specimens; Botanical specimens; Ceremonial objects; Containers; Edged Weapons; Musical instruments; Personal adornments; Portrait photographs; Portraits; Projectile weapons; Tools; Weapons

Paul Heinrich Matthias Foelsche

Coverage Spatial

Port Darwin; Cobourg Peninsula; Darwin; Northern Territory; Katherine River; MacArthur River; Palmerston; Port Essington; Port Keats; Daly Waters; Pine Creek; Powell's Creek

Coverage Temporal



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2012-05-30 23:41

2011-03-18 18:23