The table with the griffin-shaped legs

CHARLES A. WOOLLEY megalethosscope
ALFRED BOCK advertisements
THOMAS J. NEVIN studio furniture

Charles A. Woolley placed an advertisement in the Tasmanian Mercury, February 11th, 1871 for his wonderful “magalethoscope” [sic].

Charles Woolley’s ad in the Mercury February 11, 1871

This is a misprint, perhaps by the newspaper. The megalethoscope was an apparatus for viewing photographs with stereoptical effect. It was invented in Venice by Swiss-born Carlo Ponti, and made popular during the decade 1860-1870.

Carlo Ponti’s megalethoscope 1860s

Charles A. Woolley (1834-1922) also ran a furniture business from his photographic premises. He must have supplied furniture, carpets and wall-hangings to Hobart photographic studios during the 1860s, and even sold items from his own studio when he ceased professional practice in the 1870s, because the same items appear in different photographers’ work. William Hanson’s furniture warehouse, closer to Alfred Bock and Thomas Nevin’s studio, was also a likely supplier.

The small side table with griffin-shaped legs which appears in the photograph by C. A. Woolley of Ann Cotton (below left) also appears in several portraits by Thomas Nevin taken at his studio, The City Photographic Establishment, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town, including full length portraits of himself, his brother Jack, Constable John Nevin (1851-1891), and of his parents, his mother Mary Ann Nevin (1810-1875) nee Dickson and father,John Nevin snr (1808-1887).

The carpet in the photograph of Ann Cotton (below, left) appears in other photographs by Charles Woolley featuring the family of Louisa Ann Meredith in one, and a group of three Tasmanian Aborigines (McCullagh collection) in another, both of which can be accurately dated to 1866. The carpet in Nevin’s photographs also appears in his wedding photographs, taken in July 1871. A painted wall-hanging or backsheet featuring a tiled patio with Italianate balcony and a river meandering in the distance which appears in an uncut photograph of Bishop Willson (attributed to C. A. Woolley in the TMAG collections) also appears in Thomas Nevin’s portrait (below) of an unidentified woman seated with a closed umbrella:

Top Left: Anne Cotton on Charles Woolley’s carpet (University of Tasmania Special Collections)
Top Right: Thomas Nevin’s man with a stereoscope (McCullagh Collection)
Lower left: Thomas Nevin’s woman with umbrella (Safier Collection)

Above: Portraits by Thomas Nevin of his parents John and Mary Nevin ca. 1871-3, taken at The City Photographic Establishment, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town, posed beside the table with the distinctive griffin-shaped legs (Shelverton Collection)

As early as 1864 or even earlier, Thomas Nevin was operating a studio at New Town, near Hobart Tasmania, selling stereographs from the New Town Post Office. He may have served a brief apprenticeship or junior partnership with Alfred Bock prior to taking over the business. In 1864 Bock advertised his skills with sennotypes in Walch’s Tasmanian Almanac. By 1865 Nevin had assumed ownership of Bock’s studio and glasshouse at 140 Elizabeth Street when Bock departed Tasmania for Victoria.

A block down Elizabeth St. from Nevin’s studio, on the corner of Melville and Elizabeth Streets was William Hanson’s furniture warehouse. By 1871 William Hanson was the licensee of the Black Prince operating as a public house from the premises. He was also a witness at Thomas Nevin’s wedding to Elizabeth Rachel Day at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley near Hobart on 12 July 1871. William Hanson’s name appears on their marriage certificate, along with the name of Elizabeth Rachel Nevin’s sister, Mary Sophia Day (1853-1942).

Above: Walch’s Tasmanian Almanac 1864 with advertisements by photographers Alfred Bock and George Cherry and William Hanson’s Furniture House.