Is this a
photo of John Mc and Ned
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 moisture
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
If it is John McMonigle, he was a leading hand at local sawmills and
became one of Ned's closest friends. However these fellows
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'
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
Despite numerous comments on the Ned Kelly Central Facebook page about the photo, I found
my last comment deleted due to animosity towards me because of my
For reasons I will explain by points below, its probably not Ned.
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.
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
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. It has the little one as daughter Lillian and
the tall daughter right as Alice, but their ages are only four
years apart. It's therefore thought the tall girl maybe the
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
Gary Dean and
Dagmar Balcarek's book 'Ned and the Others' 1999 Publisher GlenRowen Cobb &
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
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
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
The Ned Kelly Vault
Ned Kelly Central photo debate
:Death of the Legend
Ned photo Sneak Preview,
The unforgotten Photo of Ned Kelly