Clifford & Nevin, and the coloured cartes

Thomas J. Nevin and Samuel Clifford (1827-1890) were close friends and colleagues over a period dating from ca. 1865 to Clifford’s death in 1890. This carte bearing the handwritten inscription “Clifford and Nevin, Hobart Town” is one of several in private and public collections.

Clifford and Nevin coloured carteCliffordNevinVersoMcCullagh

Scans courtesy © The Private Collection of John & Robyn McCullagh 2006. ARR.

Visit the weblog here for more items in The McCullagh Collection.

Photo historians have assumed the relationship with Samuel Clifford was transitory and dated to ca 1870 (McPhee, QVMAG 2007), which was not the case. They have also assumed that Clifford ceased commercial practice ca. 1873 (Kerr, 1992, Long, 1995), which also appears to be incorrect. When Thomas Nevin advertised his retirement from commercial practice on the eve of his appointment as a civil servant at the Town Hall and Police Office in The Mercury 17th January, 1876, Samuel Clifford announced in the same advertisement that he had acquired Nevin’s negatives and would reprint them on request:

Under the header PHOTOGRAPHY:-

T.J. NEVIN, in retiring from the above, begs to thank his patrons for the support he has so long received from them, and also to state that his interest in all the Negatives he has taken has been transferred to Mr S. CLIFFORD, of Liverpool-street, to whom future applications may be made.

In reference to the above, Mr T.J. Nevin’s friends may depend that I will endeavour to satisfy them with any prints they may require from his negatives.


[The Mercury, 17th January, 1876]

Samuel Clifford had not ceased practice in 1873, therefore, as most commentators have assumed, and many extant prints with Samuel Clifford’s stamp or attribution are likely to be later reprints from Nevin’s negatives, including Nevin’s stereographs of Port Arthur (1871-1873, State Library of Tas) and of the upper Derwent Valley (1870s, TMAG Collection).

Samuel Clifford inserted another notice in The Mercury of 16th March 1878, to advertise the sale of his photographic stock:

Tasmanian Index (Newspapers & Journals)
Title: [Sale of Samuel Clifford’s photographic stock]
In: Mercury 16/03/1878 Page(s): 2, column 3
Notes: Transcribed from Stilwell Index (Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts)
Sale of his photographic stock in trade, camera, lenses, printing frames etc., Liverpool Street.
Subjects: Clifford, Samuel, 1827-1890

When Clifford sold his stock to the Anson brothers, Joshua and Henry, in 1878, they reprinted the negatives of both Nevin and Clifford, and those same negatives were reprinted again when John Watt Beattie acquired the Anson brothers studio in 1892.

The colouring in this carte and others from a similar provenance (northern Tasmania and Victoria) is sometimes mistakenly assumed to be the work of the studio colourist, which was not the case (McPhee QVMAG, 2007). The colouring was done after the purchase of the carte by a family, probably by a child, and not by either photographer’s studio.