National Library of Australia’s convict portraits

Many of these convict cartes held at the NLA are duplicates of the same images held at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, and the Archives Office of Tasmania. This simple fact underscores the extensive copying which has taken place since the mid 20th century, principally from the QVMAG collection: 1958, 1977, 1982, 1985, 1987 and most recently for a digital database. Although the Nevin brothers photographed more than 3000 prisoners, the bulk has been lost, destroyed or sold at private auction. The remaining 300 or so were selected or salvaged by Beattie ca. 1916 to sell to tourists; he selected only those prisoners whose sentences were severe enough to warrant a criminal sitting in the Supreme Court: the offender’s apparent notoreity was the selling point. In this respect, the are not a random selection, nor a series. But they were not salvaged because they were an archive held at Port Arthur; they were never held at Port Arthur, nor taken there. Nevin photographed the prisoner once as a single capture in Hobart, produced prints from his original glass negatives at his city studio and later at studios in the Gaol and MPO, and made at least four duplicates from his glass negative for circulation to other prisons and police in regional Tasmania, in addition to the copies needed to paste onto warrants, prisoner records sheets, and the central register held at the Hobart Town Hall. … More National Library of Australia’s convict portraits

Another rare Nevin & Smith studio stamp

This studio stamp from Nevin & Smith with the inclusion of the Prince of Wales’ blazon, is the second type of stamp from Thomas Nevin’s studio that bears an official insignia. Whether his use of this blazon was to signify a commission to contribute to the photograph albums gifted to Prince Alfred is quite possible though as yet undocumented. The blazon was used on decorations for official functions during Prince Alfred’s visit to Hobart in 1868. The banneret (below) adorned the ball given in his honour. Quite different is T. J. Nevin’s official government contractor stamp which appears on prisoner identification photographs taken at the Port Arthur prison and Hobart Gaol (below).  It features the Royal insignia of a lion and unicorn rampant encircled by a belt carrying Nevin’s name and studio address. It was devised by government printer James Barnard to endorse all official colonial government documents, including the weekly police gazettes. … More Another rare Nevin & Smith studio stamp

Poster of Thomas Nevin’s convict portraits 1870s

Who were they? They were T.J. Nevin’s sitters for police records, mostly “Supreme Court men” photographed on committal for trial at the Supreme Court adjoining the Hobart Gaol when they were isolated in silence for a month after sentencing. If sentenced for a long term at the Supreme Court Launceston, they were photographed, bathed, shaved and dressed on being received in Hobart. These procedures, past and present, were reported at length by a visitor to the Hobart Gaol and Supreme Court in The Mercury, 8th July 1882: … More Poster of Thomas Nevin’s convict portraits 1870s

Stereographs by Clifford & Nevin at ‘Narryna’

This is an interactive display at the Narryna Heritage Museum. The stereos are truly 3D. The visitor gains an immediate understanding of the Victorian fascination with this “advanced” photography. Three images can be seen, not just one: the central image appears in deep perspective, with the image split into halves on either side. … More Stereographs by Clifford & Nevin at ‘Narryna’