The Library has recently purchased at auction three photographic albums relating to Vera and Frederick James.
Vera James (1892-1980), a New Zealand born actress, came to Australia in 1919 as a stage actress and was recruited by Franklyn Barrett for two films, 'A Girl of the Bush' and 'Know Thy Child' (1921). She then went to Hollywood and won a leading role in a B-western 'McGuire of the Mounted' (1923), but her major role in 'Bavu' (1923) was removed in post-production changes. Several bit parts and stage shows as a dancer followed, but in 1929 she returned to Australia and retired from show business.
Vera’s brother, Frederick Charles James, with George Hughes Anderson, were Australian agents for Max Factor during the 1930s and 1940s. They travelled around Australia demonstrating Max Factor make-up to women, eventually opening a Max Factor shop in Her Majesty's Arcade in Sydney.
One of the albums is titled 'Our home No. 2 Floor 10 The Astor, Macquarie Street, Sydney' and inscribed 'To Mum with love from Fred and Geo.' [i.e. George]. The album dates from around 1938 and contains 15 hand-coloured photographic prints of interiors of their modern-furnished apartment.
The second album contains photographs of an overseas trip by Fred and George to Fiji, Samoa, Hawaii, Mexico, and the U.S.A. in 1933. The album features a number of photographs of Christian Science Sanitariums, the First Church of Christ Scientist, and Mrs Eddy's Memorial in Boston. Many of the Astor’s original or early shareholders during the 1920s and 1930s were Christian Scientists, along with the Astor’s founders and architects.
The third album is a personal album including portraits of Vera James.
The collection is catalogued as Photographic albums including views of Flat 2, Floor 10, The Astor, Macquarie Street, Sydney, ca. 1938; and photographs of Vera James, Frederick C. James and George H. Anderson, ca. 1920-1940 (Mitchell Library call number PXA 1474).
Megan Atkins, Pictures section