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View, South Africa, Johannesburg, Large Photograph, Framed, Vintage, 1930s


Linton Brothers (act. 1920s-1930s)
Johannesburg-South Africa
Sydney, Australia: c. 1930s
Photograph with calligraphic inscription
26 x 36 inches, overall
31.25 x 41 inches, framed

Huge framed vintage advertising photographic street view of part of Johannesburg, South Africa. It shows the National Bank Building, the Royal Exchange Assurance building and City Business College in the heart of Johannesburg, South Africa, at the intersection of what is now Albertina Sisalu Road and Simmonds Street overlooking Beyers Naudé Square, which is in the right foreground of the photo. The title and subtitle are superimposed in hand-painted white calligraphic lettering describing the city as the “Wonder City of the Southern Seas where Romance of Gold, Diamonds and Thrilling Warrior Dances still allure.” However, aside from the presence of African pedestrians, the view portrayed in the photograph gives no hint of the African location. The street is lined with multistory European style buildings with English signage overlooking a lawn that is lined with evenly spaced trees in the center of the plaza. Double-decker electric trams, automobiles and horse-drawn carriages travel the busy streets.

Product description continues below.


Another version of this photograph, without the caption, is in a group of 85 glass lantern slides of South Africa by the Australian photography firm Linton Brothers that are in the collection of the State Library of Victoria, Australia. There are a few errors in the library’s description, which incorrectly identifies the location as Cape Town. The slogan “Wonder City” was used in travel advertisements and posters for Johannesburg in the 1930s, and so the photograph offered here, while possibly taken in the 1920s as the State Library of Victoria indicates, was probably printed in the 1930s. In addition, the Wonder City slogan and additional calligraphic descriptions are further indication that this large example of the photograph was likely used to encourage travel, perhaps in a travel agency.

The National Bank Building featured in the center of the photograph was designed by Leck and Emley and built in 1903-04. It is now the First National Bank at 80 Albertina Sisalu Road, near the Johannesburg City Hall and City Library. A street view on Google Maps shows that the buildings to the left in the vintage photograph, that then housed the Royal Exchange Assurance building and the City Business College, were demolished and replaced by an addition to the National Bank building in the same architectural style. The demilune windows shown in the upper story were also replaced by rectangular ones.

Linton Brothers were listed in Sydney, Australia, business directories as “photographic material and stock importers.”

Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning, wear handling. Few minor scratches and abrasions to surface, unobtrusive. Backed on cardboard, as issued, apparently not affecting the photograph other than as slightly warped and cockled. In original oak frame with usual wear and shrinkage.


“Beyers Naudé Square.” Wikipedia. (18 October 2015).

“National Bank building.” State Library of Victoria. and (18 October 2015).

“Notes on the Geography of Johannesburg, South Africa.” The Great Mirror. 8 October 2015. (18 October 2015).

Additional information


20th Century