Our Tenth Anniversary

Ten years ago we started blogging about Tasmanian photographer Thomas J. Nevin (1842-1923).  We look forward to another two years at least as the project draws closer to completion. Contributions and donations are most welcome, and many thanks for your involvement.

Email all enquiries here.

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Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day (1847-1914)
Original by her husband Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1874
Photo copyright KLW FC Group  © KLW NFC Imprint ARR

Categories: Nevin Family Collections, Reviews | Tags: ,

Prisoner Cornelius GLEESON

Police photograph (mounted cdv) of prisoner Cornelius Gleeson
Taken by T. J. Nevin,  December 1873, Hobart Gaol
TMAG Collection Ref: Q15602.1

Verso: Prisoner Cornelius Gleeson
Taken by T. J. Nevin,  December 1873, Hobart Gaol
TMAG Collection Ref: Q15602.1

Unlike many of these prisoner mugshots held in public collections, this one of Cornelius Gleeson has no information transcribed verso of the ship on which he was transported to Tasmania, although the police gazette notices of his various arrests and discharges document it as the Lady Montagu (arrived VDL 9 December 1852).The other phrase added to this, and to hundreds of other versos of these 1870s photographs in public collections, is “Taken at Port Arthur 1874“. It is an error which does not reflect the criminal history of the prisoner on the date, place and occasion for which the photograph was taken. Cornelius Gleeson was photographed on incarceration at the Hobart Gaol in the last week of December 1873 by Thomas J. Nevin, and photographed again on release from an eight year sentence in 1879.

Mugshots Removed
This carte-de-visite of Cornelius Gleeson in an oval mount is held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart. It was originally held in the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, together with another three hundred or more 1870s mugshots taken at the Hobart Gaol by Thomas J. Nevin, which were part of the bequest from the estate of John Watt Beattie in the 1930s. When it was removed from Beattie’s collection and taken down to Port Arthur for an exhibition in 1983, it was not returned to the QVMAG. It was deposited instead at the TMAG along with dozens more taken from Beattie’s collection to Port Arthur in 1983. I

This three page list (acquired here in 2005) from the QVMAG shows a total of 199 mugshots, but only 72 physically held at the QVMAG. A total of 126 mugshots were missing. Whoever devised this list wrote a number on the front of the photograph. We have pencilled in on the right hand side of each page the numbered mugshots missing from the list. The cdv of Cornelius Gleeson, numbered “149” is missing from the QVMAG list (2005) because it was returned to the TMAG and not the QVMAG:

Page 1 of the list of 1870s prisoner mugshots originally held in the Beattie collection, Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery after they were removed to Port Arthur (1983) and elsewhere. A total missing from this three page list is 127, 60 or more of which were subsequently deposited at the TMAG,

Page 2 of the list of 1870s prisoner mugshots originally held in the Beattie collection, Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery after they were removed to Port Arthur (1983) and elsewhere. A total missing from this three page list is 127, 60 or more of which were subsequently deposited at the TMAG.

Page 3 of the list of 1870s prisoner mugshots originally held in the Beattie collection, Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery after they were removed to Port Arthur (1983) and elsewhere. A total missing from this three page list is 127, 60 or more of which were subsequently deposited at the TMAG.

The verso of this carte-de-visite of prisoner Cornelius Gleeson shows traces of the original photographic card at top left, and everywhere else the paper to which it had been pasted in the 1870s, i.e. the Hobart Gaol criminal record sheet that originally recorded his offenses along with his photograph, which was prepared on incarceration after Supreme Court sentencing. The transcription of another number verso was added along with the prisoner’s name and the phrase  “Taken at Port Arthur 1874” once their commercial value was the motivation for their salvage. In the souvenir shop where it was offered for sale to toursits, it probably sat next to new reprints of Marcus Clarke’s novel of  the horrors of the Port Arthur prison, For the Term of His Natural Life, published in 1874. The tourist in the mid 1920s was enticed with an even more realistic penal heritage experience if he or she travelled to Port Arthur to watch the film of the book being made (1929). So it was imperative that the photograph as souvenir carried the appropriate resonances regardless of the facts of the real reason why the prisoner was photographed or when and where.

In 1915, commercial photographer, convictaria collector and private museum operator John Watt Beattie held government commissions to boost the tourism industry with photographs of Tasmania’s two key attractions: wilderness landscapes and convict heritage. When Beattie reprinted these mugshots taken by Nevin of prisoners who were incarcerated in the 1870s – sentencing, incarceration and discharge being the only reason the police required their photograph – he labelled them with the word not common to British Edwardian usage – “convicts”  – to resonate with the narratives and cliches of Tasmania’s/Van Diemen’s Land penal history prior to 1853, thereby deliberately suppressing the very ordinary reality that these men were prisoners who had been sentenced in the 1870s and 1880s. Not only were they officially designated as “prisoners” for the police, by 1871 they were the responsibility of the colonial government of Tasmania, not the British government. Yet, by 1916, when Beattie had salvaged dozens of Thomas Nevin’s original glass plate negatives and mounted cartes-de-visite of prisoners from the Hobart Gaol’s photographers’ room above the women’s laundry before it was demolished, he was reprinting them as commercial studio portraits on postcards, some even as cartes-de-visite,  and some as uncut prints, labelling them “Imperial convicts” who were “photographed at Port Arthur“, none of which was historically factual.

Beattie, with his assistant Edward Searle ca. 1915 reprinted the image of prisoner Cornelius Gleeson from Nevin’s original glass negative, and pasted the unmounted paper print to a dark grey photograph album leaf, placing it bottom line, last on viewer’s right. Together with thirty-nine (39) more reprints from these Hobart Gaol glass plates of 1870s, Beattie displayed all 40 as three panels at his “Port Arthur Museum” in Murray St. Hobart.  These three panels, containing forty (40) prints in total were listed for sale in Beattie’s catalogue for 1916:

69. Three Frames containing 40 photographs taken at Port Arthur, showing types of Imperial Prisoners there.

To spur the tourist’s fascination enough to buy a carte of a “convict”, and in the interests of government revenue, to encourage the tourist to take the trip down to Port Arthur 60 kms away on the Tasman Peninsula to see for themselves the horrors of Tasmania’s penal heritage, Beattie wrote the wording “Types of Imperial Convicts” and “Photographed at Port Arthur” above the prints on each of the three panels. Typologies created by lining up men in this manner catered to contemporary beliefs in an identity that could be discerned through eugenics and phrenology. This means of distancing the past was to the middle-class Edwardian – whether to Beattie himself as a late comer to Tasmania from Britain (1880s) or to the tourist visiting his museum –   the most comforting of all acceptable historical narratives of their physical and familial displacement from – and present patriotic allegiance to – the British Empire during its greatest need, the Great War of 1914-1918 . “Imperial” was the word applied to everything, from soldiers leaving Australia as Imperial Forces, to cookware produced for the home. .

Cornelius Gleeson, bottom row, last on viewer’s right
Fourteen reprints of 1870s Tasmania prisoners
Original negatives by T. J. Nevin 1870s
Reprints by J. W. Beattie ca. 1915
QVMAG Collection: Ref : 1983_p_0163-0176

Cornelius Gleeson, b&w print from Beattie’s reprint from Nevin’s negative
QVMAG Collection Ref: 1985 p 0176

The carte-de-visite by Nevin of Cornelius Gleeson (1873) is now held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, while the sepia paper print (1915) by Beattie of Gleeson is held at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery. The mounted carte belonged originally to Beattie’s collection, acquired by the QVMAG from Beattie’s estate after his death in 1930, but it and more like it were removed by a QVMAG staff employee and displayed at an Exhibition held at the Port Arthur prison heritage site in 1983. Instead of returning the cartes to their rightful place back in Beattie’s collection at the QVMAG, at least forty were deposited at the TMAG, probably by the same person who removed them. The integrity of this collection as a whole, as vernacular documentation of very early police and forensic photography undertaken in Australia, has been violated many times over. Such has been the fate of many of these mugshots taken for police by Nevin in the 1870s-1880s:  removed from the prisoners’ rap sheets, reprinted by Beattie et al, sold as souvenirs at heritage sites, exhibited as ethnological artefacts on the walls of museums, dispersed piecemeal to various state and national collections, claimed as aesthetic portraits by art-trained photohistorians, and deliberately misattributed in the process by 20th century seekers of ancestors wishing to have the photographer rather than the convict in their family. The three panels prepared by Beattie and Searle in 1915 were exhibited in 2000 at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra. Beattie was credited with the reprints of the 40 mugshots, but instead of Nevin receiving his long-standing credit as the original photographer of these prisoners while working with the Hobart and Territorial Police in the 1870s-80s, some one desirous of fabricating a photographic artist out the mire of their ancestor’s vicious past, attributed to the photographs to none other than the much reviled Commandant of Port Arthur,

POLICE RECORDS for Cornelius GLEESON

1872

Cornelius Gleeson was discharged on 26 June 1872,at the Hobart Gaol from a 6 months sentence, residue remitted, charged with being on premises for an unlawful purpose.

1873

Cornelius Gleeson was discharged on 8 October 1873 at the Hobart Gaol, from a 6 month sentence for being on premises for an unlawful purpose.

Cornelius Gleeson was sentenced to 6 moths, hard labour
Mercury, 9 April 1873

When Cornelius Gleeson was sentenced to 8 years for burglary nine months later, his accomplice was Michael Dwyer who was also photographed by Thomas J. Nevin for police and prison records at the same session. Michael Dwyer’s cdv is held at the QVMAG, numbered “150”, Gleeson’s is numbered “149” but missing from the QVMAG lists after 1983.  The sepia print of Dwyer from Nevin’s original negative, appears on another of the three panels devised as typologies by Beattie in 1915, viz thisone, top row, third from left.

Prisoner Michael Dwyer, Gleeson’s accomplice 1873
Phootograph by Thomas J. Nevin, Hobart Gaol December 1873
QVMAG Collection Ref: 1985 p 0082

Calendar: Criminal sessions
Cornelius Gleeson and Michael Dwyer burglary,
Mercury 1 Dec 1873

“Vicious misapplication of his abilities”

…..

Source: LAW INTELLIGENCE. (1873, December 4). The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved June 30, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8915389

1879

Cornelius Gleeson was sentenced to eight years at the Hobart Supreme Court on 2 December 1873 for burglary and larceny. He was discharged 4 June 1879, residue of sentence remitted. On his release, he requested the assistance of the Victorian and Tasmanian police in locating his brothers, per this advertisement:

John and Stephen Gleeson, missing brothers of Cornelius Gleeson, 25 June 1879.

1880

Cornelius Gleeson was arrested on 22 October 1880 for the theft of 6 cotton sheets, the property of Margaret Murphy.

Cornelius Gleeson was arraigned in the Supreme Court Hobart on 14 December 1880 and acquitted.

*Source: Tasmania Reports of Crimes Information for Police, J. Barnard, Gov’t Printer.

Categories: 19th Century Prison Photography, Hobart Gaol, Police mugshots by Nevin, QVMAG, TMAG | Tags: , , , ,

Thomas Nevin on Mount Wellington 1860s

The Bicentenary of the Battle of Waterloo, in which the British, led by the Duke of Wellington defeated the Emperor of France, Napoleon Bonaparte (Belgium, 1815), is being celebrated in Britain this month.

View live streaming of the re-enactments 18-21 June 2015 at the official Waterloo 1815 website: https://www.waterloo2015.org/en

Mount Wellington was commonly referred to as Table Mountain by explorers to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) from Bligh’s visit in 1791 until 1832 when Matthew Flinders renamed it after the Duke of Wellington. Under dual-naming policy, the mountain is known as kunanyi in Palawa-kani, the revived composite language of Tasmanian Aborigines.

These stereographs taken by Thomas J. Nevin, late 1860s, on and around the summit of Mount Wellington/kunanyi, are sourced from the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection (2015).

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A selection of stereographs taken by Thomas J. Nevin, late 1860s, on and around the summit of Mount Wellington/kunanyi. From the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection 2015

Mount Wellington/kunanyi, with the Derwent Entertainment Centre foreground, taken from the River Derwent. Photo copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2015.

Categories: Stereographs, TMAG | Tags: , ,

Hobart Gaol camera and mugshot books 1891-1901

Marion’s Excelsior Camera, 22 & 23 Soho Sq., London W,
The firm operated from this address between c.1866 – 1913.
Held at the Penitentiary Chapel Historic Site, Campbell St. Hobart, Tasmania, site of the former Hobart Gaol and Supreme Court.
Photos copyright © KLW NFC 2015 ARR

This camera was used by the (as yet) unidentified photographer at the Hobart Gaol from the 1890s. Prior to the 1890s, prisoners were photographed by Constable John Nevin who was resident at the Gaol until his death from typhoid fever in 1891, working with his brother, commercial photographer and civil servant Thomas J. Nevin who attended the gaol and Supreme Court sessions on a weekly roster. They used two rooms above the women’s laundry as a studio. The cameras they used were wet plate, multi-lens cameras such as the 1860s American Scovill (possibly Peck) style wet-plate camera with four Darlot No.4 lenses, a Simon Wing ‘Repeating’ camera, or a stereoscopic, sliding box type, wet plate (wood, brass & glass), by Ottewill & Co, lenses manufactured by A Ross, London, England, 1860 – 1870.

Advertisement for the Marion Excelsior Studio Camera 1898, available in 9½, 12 and 15 square formats. with repeating single dark slide, extra front and all carriers with double extension, priced from  £5.5 to £13.10.

Sources: https://archive.org/stream/1898britishjourn00londuoft#page/10/mode/2up
https://archive.org/details/1898britishjourn00londuoft

Michael Wm or Maurice Walch 1893-1935
The Marion Excelsior camera was used by the visiting photographer to the Hobart Gaol to photograph this Huon resident and recidivist, Michael William Walch in 1909 for his front and profile pair of mugshots, pasted at lower centre of page, and if still in use in 1935 at the Gaol, for the trio of a full-length photograph, a full frontal photograph, and the small profile photograph of Michael Walch who by that date had changed his middle name from William to Maurice (lower left of rap sheet.). In 1906 and 1935 he was arrested for the same offence of exposing himself. The earliest mugshots at right were taken in 1893 when he was 23 years old on being sentenced at the Supreme Court Hobart for common assault. By 1935 he would have been 65 years old when he was photographed at the Police Office Hobart in his three piece suit, shirt and tie, and hat. He served six months for indecent exposure. The full length photograph was introduced in the 1920s. For the most engaging police photographs in this genre, visit the  NSW Justice and Police Museum mugshots page, especially the selection published by Peter Doyle. Crooks Like Us (2009),

Source: Archives Office State Library of Tasmania
Mugshots 1891 GD67-1-10, 1895 GD128-1-2, 1901 GD128-1-1

Thomas Clark 1897
A first offender, prisoner Thomas Clark and his co-arsonist George Campbell (see below), were sentenced to 4 years in 1896 but discharged in October 1897. The photographer applied the mugshot methods of Bertillon required by prison regulations by the 1890s in providing a pair of photographs, one full frontal and one in profile, but still printed both photographs in oval mounts typical of earlier commercial carte-de-visite production. Thomas Clark was photographed wearing the prison-issue houndstooth patterned tie with a shirt in the fortnight prior to discharge, but not the full prison uniform. The third photograph pasted to the bottom of his criminal sheet was taken on arrest, wearing the same collarless shirt and coat as his partner in crime, George Campbell, who was an inmate of the Boy’s Training school when captured.

Source: Archives Office State Library of Tasmania
Mugshots 1891 GD67-1-10, 1895 GD128-1-2, 1901 GD128-1-1

George Campbell 1888 and 1897
These two photographs (Reg: 776) of prisoner George Campbell, one full frontal printed into an oval mount, the other in profile and unmounted, were taken a fortnight before he was discharged from the Hobart Gaol on 6th October 1897. Although appearing to wear civilian clothes, he was wearing the prison-issue houndstooth patterned tie on discharge. In 1888 he was sentenced to 4 years for larceny, and another 4 years for arson in 1896. He was sentenced for the same crime and on the same date as the prisoner Thomas Clark (see above), 24th March 1896. The third unmounted full frontal photograph pasted to the bottom of his rap sheet shows George Campbell as younger, thinner, and wearing his own shirt. It was probably taken on arrest while he was still at the Training School (Boys’ Orphanage).

Source: Archives Office State Library of Tasmania
Mugshots 1891 GD67-1-10, 1895 GD128-1-2, 1901 GD128-1-1

Joshua Anson 1877 and 1897
Joshua Anson was indicted for feloniously stealing a quantity of photographic goods from his employer, H. H. Baily, photographer, of Hobart Town on May 31st, 1877. The charge was larceny as a servant. The prisoner pleaded not guilty. Despite the depositions of good character from photographer Samuel Clifford, Charles Walch the stationer, and W.R. Giblin, lawyer and Attorney-General, Joshua Anson (b. 1854, Hobart), was found guilty of stealing goods valued at £88, though the real value of the goods, which included camera equipment, negatives, paper, mounts, chemicals, tripods etc exceeded £140. He was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, with parole. On July 12, 1877, the Mercury reported that Joshua Anson’s appeal was ” to seek to retrieve his character by an honest career in another colony; and asked that during his incarceration he might be kept from the company of other prisoners as much as possible, though not, he said, on account of feeling himself above them, as the verdict of the jury removed that possibility.” The seriousness of the crime warranted a 14 year sentence, but the jury strongly recommended him to mercy “on account of his youth“.

Joshua Anson did not take the two photographs of himself that were pasted to his criminal sheet, the first (on left) in 1877 when he was 23 yrs old, and the second (on right) in 1897 when he was 43 yrs old, nor did he photograph any of the other prisoners for gaol records while serving time at the Hobart Gaol. His abhorrence of the company of convicts was extreme, as his statement testifies. His 1877 prisoner mugshot was taken by Constable John Nevin in situ, and unmounted. Thomas Nevin may have printed another for the Municipal Police Office Registry at the Town Hall, Macquaries St. Hobart where he was the Hall and Office Keeper, but it is yet to be identified among the Tasmanian prisoner cdvs held in public collections. Joshua Anson was certainly the beneficiary of Thomas Nevin’s stock and commercial negatives when Samuel Clifford acquired them in 1876 and then sold them on to Joshua Anson and his brother Henry Anson in 1878. The Anson brothers reprinted Clifford & Nevin’s Port Arthur stereoscopes for their highly commercial album, published in 1890 as Port Arthur Past and Present without due acknowledgement to either Nevin or Clifford.

The Launceston Examiner reported another theft by Joshua Anson on 30 May, 1896. The arrest, he was reported to have said, had brought on two epileptic fits. He was imprisoned again at the Hobart Gaol, served 12 months and discharged on 1st July 1897.

Source: Archives Office State Library of Tasmania
Mugshots 1891 GD67-1-10, 1895 GD128-1-2, 1901 GD128-1-1

TRANSCRIPT

HOBART, Friday
At the City Court to-day Joshua Anson, photographer, was charged with having robbed Charles Perkins of £32 12s5d. Accused, who was not represented by counsel, stated he had had two epileptic fits since he was arrested, and his head was not now clear. He asked for a remand. After the evidence of the prosecution had been taken, the accused was remanded till Tuesday.
Beautiful spring-like weather is prevailing.

Source; Launceston Examiner, 30 May, 1896

John Jones 1896
Both photographs taken of prisoner John Jones at the beginning and end of his sentence, June and December 1896, were vignetted (cloudy background) and posed in full frontal gaze. He was photographed as clean shaven with closely cropped hair in the first, taken on incarceration for being idle etc, and again  six months later, in the fortnight before being discharged, with full beard, more hair, and still wearing the prison-issue tie. The discharge photo was registered No. 685.

Source: Archives Office State Library of Tasmania
Mugshots 1891 GD67-1-10, 1895 GD128-1-2, 1901 GD128-1-1

George Davis 1895
A single photograph in semi profile, with the registration number 560 was taken at the Police Office, Hobart where prisoner George Davis was repeatedly detained for short sentences from 14 days to three months. For some reason, the Hobart Gaol header on this form has been taped over. The prison scarf or tie worn during these last years of the 19th century featured a large lozenge pattern.

Source: Archives Office State Library of Tasmania
Mugshots 1891 GD67-1-10, 1895 GD128-1-2, 1901 GD128-1-1

James Connolly 1876 and 1895
Thomas Nevin photographed this prisoner James Connolly (or Conly) at the Hobart Gaol on being transferred from Port Arthur on 29th November 1876, per this record, the Conduct PA Register Con 94-1-2 1873-76 (State Library Tasmania)

Prisoner James Connolly was photographed in November 1876 by Thomas Nevin at the Hobart Gaol
(QVMAG Collection: Ref. No.Q1985_p_0086). This last photograph, a single full frontal image, registered as No. 503, was taken at the Hobart Gaol on James Connolly’s transfer to the New Town Invalid Depot in July 1895. A short hand-written record of his criminal history was pasted over a duplicate of the first sheet.

Source: Archives Office State Library of Tasmania
Mugshots 1891 GD67-1-10, 1895 GD128-1-2, 1901 GD128-1-1

Michael Charlton 1901
This record gives a registration number for the photograph – “B1″. Prisoner Michael Charlton was convicted at the Police Office Hobart on 21st December 1900 and discharged on 5th January 1901, serving a sentence of three weeks at the Hobart Gaol for “obtaining passage by sea” which presumably meant he was caught as a stowaway. The two photographs, one full frontal, and one profile, were taken according to the Bertillon method in the same sitting on conviction at the Police Office, and printed with the date of the sitting “21-12-00″ across the bottom of the photograph in profile. Extensively torn from use, and rotted from poor storage, the book was salvaged  from the Hobart Gaol, transferred to the Archives Office Tasmania in the 1950s. This buff coloured page was pasted onto the blue criminal record form used by the gaol, visible at the torn edges.

Source: Archives Office State Library of Tasmania
Mugshots 1891 GD67-1-10, 1895 GD128-1-2, 1901 GD128-1-1

ARCHIVES OFFICE TASMANIA
These mugshot books are held at the State Library and Archives Office of Tasmania.

Series Number: GD67
Title: PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION OF PRISONERS RECEIVED.
Start Date: 01 Jan 1860
End Date: 31 Dec 1936
Date Range of Holdings:
01 Jan 1860 to 31 Dec 1901
01 Jan 1934 to 31 Dec 1936
Access: Open
Creating Agency:
• TA31 GAOL (BRANCH) 01 Jan 1823 31 Dec 1936
• TA32 GAOL DEPARTMENT 01 Jan 1936 31 Dec 1959
Description (Content/Function):
Name, ship, trade, height, age, complexion, head, hair, whiskers, visage, forehead, eyebrows, eyes, nose, mouth, chin, native place; remarks: sometimes include – civil condition, clothing, family, offence, sentence, photograph.

System of Arrangement:
The relationship of these volumes to each other is somewhat obscure. There is considerable date overlap and some people are included in more than one volume. Each volume is arranged roughly chronologically. The situation is further confused by the fact that some volumes have been indexed at a later date and marked ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’ etc,. not all of these indexed volumes have survived. There is no indication as to why some were indexed and others not, as what differences there are between volumes which have been indexed are also apparent between some of those which have not been indexed. Indexed volumes are: c.1860-74 ‘A’ GD67/1, 1862-66 ‘B’ GD67/2, 1866-70 ‘C’ GD67/4, 1870-77 ‘D’ GD 67/5, c1874-86 ‘E’ GD 67/7, c1884-91 ‘G’ GD67/8, c1892-97 ‘H’ GD 67/11, c1897-1901 ‘I’ GD 67/12, c1934-36 ‘L’ GD67/13 contained in (the back) GD67/7. Generally the same format as CON18.

Information Sources:
Controlling Series:
• GD68 INDEX TO PRISONERS DESCRIPTION RECORDS. 01 Jan 1860 31 Dec 1952
Related Series:
• GD128 PHOTOGRAPHIC RECORD AND DESCRIPTION OF PRISONERS. 01 Jul 1895 30 Nov 1902
Items in Series:
• GD67/1/1 Physical descrption of prisoners received 01 Jan 1860 31 Dec 1936
• GD67/1/2 Physical descrption of prisoners received 01 Jan 1860 31 Dec 1936
• GD67/1/3 Physical descrption of prisoners received 01 Jan 1860 31 Dec 1936
• GD67/1/4 Physical descrption of prisoners received 01 Jan 1860 31 Dec 1936
• GD67/1/5 Physical descrption of prisoners received 01 Jan 1860 31 Dec 1936
• GD67/1/6 Physical descrption of prisoners received 01 Jan 1860 31 Dec 1936
• GD67/1/7 Physical descrption of prisoners received 01 Jan 1860 31 Dec 1936
• GD67/1/8 Physical descrption of prisoners received 01 Jan 1860 31 Dec 1936
• GD67/1/9 Physical description of prisoners received 01 Jan 1860 31 Dec 1936
• GD67/1/10 Physical descrption of prisoners received 01 Jan 1860 31 Dec 1936
• GD67/1/11 Physical descrption of prisoners received 01 Jan 1860 31 Dec 1936
• GD67/1/12 Physical descrption of prisoners received 01 Jan 1860 31 Dec 1936
• GD67/1/13 Physical descrption of prisoners received 01 Jan 1860 31 Dec 1936
© State of Tasmania, Archives Office of Tasmania 2006

Photos copyright © KLW NFC 2015 ARR

Categories: 19th Century Prison Photography, Archives Office Tasmania, Hobart Gaol, Police mugshots by Nevin | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Nevin’s photographs at the Art Gallery NSW exhibition 2015

STEREOGRAPH of STUDIO etc ELIZABETH St.
MUGSHOT of PRISONER WILLIAM RUSSELL

Stereograph by Thomas J Nevin bottom of page 270
Catalogue for the exhibition The Photograph and Australia, Judith Annear (ed)
Art Gallery of NSW, 21 March – 8 June 2015.
Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2015 ARR

The Stereograph
Of the many dozens of stereographs taken by Thomas J. Nevin in the late 1860s which are held in the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery collections, this particular one was chosen for display at The Photograph and Australia exhibition, Art Gallery of NSW, 21 March – 8 June 2015.

The Exhibition catalogue on page 296 lists the stereograph with these details:

“Thomas J Nevin
Elizabeth St 1860s
stereograph
7.3 x 7 cm (each)
8.5 x 17.4 cm (card)
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart
Q1994.56.12″

The old TMAG database (online until 2006) listed this stereograph with these details:

Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Ref: Q1994.56.12
Sepia stereoscope salt paper print
T . Nevin [Artist] 1860s late
Hobart from near 140 Elizabeth Street on corner Patrick ? Street.
Nevin & Smith photographic Studio in buildings on extreme right [refer also to Q1994.56.33]
Impress on front: T Nevin/ photo

The reference to another stereograph of a similar view in the old TMAG database entry (above) is to this one, Q1994.56.33, (below) which depicts the same line of buildings, including Thomas Nevin’s studio located at 140 Elizabeth Street, Hobart, just “three doors from Patrick Street” according to press advertisements by the studio’s former operator until 1867, Alfred Bock. The studio at No. 140 with the business name of The City Photographic Establishment and the shop and residence were separated by an entrance leading to the glasshouse at No. 138½, visible in both captures this side of the pavement overhang as the street begins its descent to the wharves.

This stereograph (below) was taken at a different time from the one displayed at the AGNSW, and possibly taken with a different stereoscopic camera. The horse and cart, the man in a light suit standing next to a lamp post on the corner of Patrick and Elizabeth Street, and the side of the building partially displaying the merchant’s name “Lovell (?) ” who sold pianos – all are missing – yet this second capture adds no more to the line of buildings on the other side of the street than the one above, despite being photographed from a greater distance. Both stereographs were framed in an arched buff mount.

This second stereograph was not stamped by Nevin, unlike the one above which carries his blindstamp impress lower centre between the two images. The stamping of one, and not the other of a similar set-up, appears to have been his common practice. When Nevin took two or more photographs depicting similar scenes, he stamped one either recto or verso, and left the second one blank. Compare this pair of two slightly different stereographs of Elizabeth Street with his pair of  two slightly different stereographs of visitors/surveyors to the Salt Caves at Victoria, Huon Valley.

The reasons behind this practice may vary from experimentation with one, so no need for a stamp, and satisfaction with the other according to the client who commissioned it on commercial terms, hence the stamp. Further copies of the same photograph or those of similar subjects were included as a further possibility for the same commission fee. One stamped photograph per batch of 100 or per a yearly fee was required by photographers to register copyright of a particular trademark with the Office of the Registrar of Patents, Customs House, Hobart. Tasmanian photographers’ copyright of their work was regulated by the Registration of Trade Marks Act 28, No. 6, Victoria, from 1864. Only two copies of their trade mark, applied to the “goods” they were intended to protect were required to be deposited with the Registrar. The applicant was issued with a one year Provisional Certificate, and if no objection was raised, the copyright endured absolute for a period of 14 years. Nevin registered copyright of at least six commercial trademarks and at least one of his trademarks, registered under colonial warrant and featuring the Supreme Court’s Royal Arms insignia, was held jointly when commissioned by the Hobart City Council. This pair of slightly different stereographs of the same scene taken at different times, like those taken at the Salt Caves, are most likely estrays from the Lands and Survey Department, supplied at the request of  James Erskine Calder, Surveyor-General.

Stereograph by Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1868
140 Elizabeth St. Hobart showing Nevin’s studio, formerly Alfred Bock’s, “three doors from Patrick St.”
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Ref: Q1994.56.33.
Photo taken at TMAG 10th November 2014
Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2014 ARR

Verso: Stereograph by Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1868
140 Elizabeth St. Hobart showing Nevin’s studio, formerly Alfred Bock’s, “three doors from Patrick St.”
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Ref: Q1994.56.33.
Photo taken at TMAG 10th November 2014
Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2014 ARR

The Mugshot
One reviewer of the exhibition The Photograph and Australia has noted the lack of mugshots apart from Ned Kelly’s rap sheet bearing two photographs. Others which were included were not identified as such. This vignette by Thomas Nevin of William Russell, who was imprisoned for two months in 1882, is a case in point, despite the fact that the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery submitted it as a prisoner mugshot with the detail of Russell’s prison sentence written on the verso, albeit unattributed.

Wm Russell prisoner

Exhibited at the AGNSW 2015

Details per page 299 of Catalogue, The Photograph and Australia

“William Rusille (?) /native/free (?) /2 months c 1874
carte-de-visite
10.3 x 6.3 cm (card)
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart
Q15623″

The AGNSW exhibitors have transcribed information from barely legible details on the verso of this photograph, but added the date “1874” through a common misconception. The date “1874” ascribed to this photograph is an error. It is a date which has been routinely applied to all carte-de-visite mounted photographs of Tasmanian prisoners/convicts held in public collections when nothing is known of the prisoner’s history at the time the photograph was taken. It is an error caused by an early 20th century exhibitor who wrote “Taken at Port Arthur 1874” across the versos of the extant 300 or so cdvs of “convicts” purely in the interests of government-sponsored penal heritage tourism in the 1920s to coincide with the making of the film For The Term of His Natural Life at Port Arthur, based on Marcus Clarke’s 1874 novel.

Recto and verso of mugshot of William Russell
There is no date inscribed on verso.
TMAG Collection: Ref: Q15623

This prisoner, Willliam Russell, was photographed once on incarceration in February 1882 at the Hobart Gaol. He was tried at Hobart on 17th February 1882 for unlawfully beating, sentenced to two months, and discharged on 19th April 1882. He was listed as Free, born in Tasmania ca. 1856, and bearing an unusual tattoo on his upper right arm: “EYGM”. The police gazette* record of his age and height was corrected a week later on 28th April 1882.

This photograph, the booking shot, which was printed first as a vignette (cloudy background), was reprinted in an oval mount two month’s later, in April 1882, when William Russell was discharged. For such a short sentence of two months, when the prisoner’s physical appearance is unlikely to have changed, a reprint of the booking shot rather than a new photograph seems to have satisfied police requirements. The unusual feature of this photograph and many others printed for gaol records right up to the last of Thomas Nevin’s involvement with prisoner identification photography in 1888 is the use of an oval mount typical of his earlier commercial practice. Only the full frontal gaze had changed from the earlier pose with the prisoner’s eyelines deflected to left or right of the frame.

Taken by Constable John Nevin and Thomas J. Nevin, February 1882, Hobart Gaol.

russellwmcorrection

*Source: Tasmania Reports of Crimes Information for Police, J. Barnard, Gov’t Printer.

Categories: 19th Century Prison Photography, Art Gallery NSW, Exhibitions and Publications, Hobart Gaol, Police mugshots by Nevin, Police Records, Stereographs, TMAG | Tags: , , , ,

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