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Alfred Simpson
, c.1866

by an unknown artist

gelatin silver photograph (mount: 26.5 x 25.7 cm, image/sheet: 19.5 x 16.0 cm)

Alfred Simpson (1805-1891) established the Colonial Tinware Manufactory in Adelaide in 1853. At first producing household items, agricultural tools and cans, the firm expanded into products such as ovens, gas stoves and bedsteads, as well as ‘Adelaide Patent Fire and Thief Proof Safes’, famous for their purported ability to withstand attempts to explode them with dynamite. Munitions were added to the product list in the late 1880s and by the time of Alfred Simpson’s death in 1891, A Simpson & Sons was the largest metal manufacturing business in Australia. Alfred Muller Simpson carried on the business following his father’s death, opening another works in 1894 and later in that decade beginning the production of enamel-plated goods. Alfred M Simpson’s two sons, Alfred Allen Simpson (known as Allen) and Frederick Neighbour Simpson also entered the family business, becoming directors in 1910. The company began producing white goods in the 1940s, becoming famous for its washing machines. Simpson merged with Pope Industries in 1963 and is now owned by Electrolux. Allen Simpson, who served as Mayor of Adelaide from 1913 to 1915, was President of the Royal Geographical Society from 1925 to 1930. Hence, he knew Douglas Mawson, who named Cape Simpson in Antarctica after his friend. Mawson’s colleague, Cecil Madigan, named the Simpson Desert after him.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased with funds provided by L Gordon Darling AC CMG 2014
Accession number: 2014.31