Trademarks copyrighted for 14 years

Government contractor J. Callaghan, naval contractor and shipping butcher, proudly displayed the Royal Arms insignia as his business credentials above his shop entrance.

Photograph – J Callaghan’s Butcher’s shop, Morrison Street, Hobart
Description: 1 photographic print
ADRI: NS1013-1-1075
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania

T. J. Nevin’s government contractor stamp

Water flow caused by the landslip at Glenorchy, June 1872
Stereograph in arched yellow mount
Thomas J. Nevin, June 1872.
Verso stamped with Nevin’s Royal Arms insignia issued by Lands Dept.
TMAG Ref: Q1994.56.2. Verso below

Just as the butcher J. Callaghan displayed his government contract credentials above his shop entrance, Thomas J. Nevin would have displayed a similar sign in his studio window at 140 Elizabeth Street, Hobart and at his New Town studio. This is one of many extant examples of photographs printed verso with T. J. Nevin’s government contractor stamp. It includes the Royal Arms insignia which was required on at least one photograph per batch of 100 to signify joint copyright with the Lands and Survey Department and the Municipal Police Office, Hobart Town Hall and City Council, between 1865 and 1876.

Hobart Supreme Court seal 1880s

Death warrants 1883-4
From Death Warrants V.D.L. Tasmania Supreme Court. Mitchell Library C203

Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2009 Arr

The Hobart Supreme Court seal (stamped here on a death warrant 1883, SLNSW), with the Royal Arms insignia of lion and unicorn rampant, was the same insignia used by Thomas J. Nevin on the versos of prisoner photographs. It appears on this parliamentary document, October 1873.

The list of 109 prisoners sent to Port Arthur from 1871 and tabled to return by October 1873 to the Hobart Gaol. See the full list here from this order photographed by Thomas J. Nevin 1873-1874.

Trade Marks Act 28, No. 6, Victoria, 1864.

Walch’s Tasmanian Almanac 1889, p. 222. Detail below.
Copyright © KLW NFC 2008 ARR

Tasmanian photographers’ copyright of their commercial work was regulated by the Registration of Trade Marks Act 28, No. 6, Victoria, from 1864. As this notice indicates, only two copies of their trade mark, applied to two samples of 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. Tasmanian artists wishing to register proprietorship of paintings, drawings, works of art, engravings and photographs were required to place their applications with Office of Copyright Registry of Victoria.

Photographers would deposit a photograph, and a studio stamp visible on either the recto mount or verso of the particular photograph, as a generic example of the purpose of their application. The practice at the Patents Office of Victoria from 1870 to 1873 was to stamp the photograph with the date of registration, number it, and place it in a scrapbook. The registers included the date of registration, the name and address of proprietor or author, a description of the work and date of first publication. Images were registered from 1870 until 1906. The Victorian Patents Office was located in the Melbourne Town Hall. See this example of Charles Nettleton’s registration of his portrait of convict Lowry.

Under the “Merchandise Marks Act, 1864” as it was known in Tasmania, Thomas J. Nevin held copyright of at least 8 trade marks between 1863 and 1888, the last date from records registering his occupation as “photographer”: –

  • One bearing the wording “Thomas Nevins New Town Tasmania” 1863
  • One carrying his abbreviated first name “Thos Nevin”, 1865-1888 for his New Town studio.
  • One for the trade names “Nevin & Smith”, 1866-68, inside a crest
  • One for the trade names “Nevin & Smith”, 1866-68 bearing the Royal feathers insignia of Albert, Duke of Edinburgh, printed during the visit of the Galatea  (1868)
  • A blind stamp impress on the recto of stereographs, “T. Nevin, Photo” 1860s-1870s
  • One bearing his name and single initial “T. Nevin, late A. Bock” 1868- 1880 with the kangaroo design;
  • One bearing the handwritten inscription “Clifford & Nevin”, 1860s-1870s;
  • One bearing his name and two initials “T. J. Nevin”, 1872-1886 with the Royal Arms insignia devised for use with government documents etc

Additional variations appear as blind stamps on the mount of his early stereographs, and on his album labels held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. Thomas Nevin retained the copyright of at least two of these trademarks over a period of 14 years:

  • the kangaroo design (1866-1880) which appears frequently on his studio portraits of private clientele,
  • the Royal Arms government insignia (1872-1884) which appears on the verso of stereographs taken for the Lands and Survey Dept in the 1860s,; on the verso of Tasmanian convict portraits; and on the verso of portraits of government officials and their families, such as this portrait of a man who may have been a prison official .

These examples (below) of convict William Smith, transportee per the Gilmore (3) 1843, were taken on two different occasions: Smith was released on a ticket of leave in September 1873, and photographed on discharge by Nevin at the Police Office central registry, Hobart Town Hall. A repeat offender, he was incarcerated again in April 1874 at the Hobart Gaol. Released a year later, he was wanted again for larceny and arrested on 9th July 1875 when Nevin photographed him again at the Hobart Gaol (Mitchell Library item). Both photographs bear Nevin’s trademark and the Royal Arms insignia similar to the Hobart Supreme Court seal.

The official trademark was used to register Nevin’s copyright, access his commission, and renew his contract as police and prisons photographer. Only one generic example was required to register a batch of 100. The majority of prisoner photographs taken by Thomas J. Nevin were not stamped verso as they were intended for police information; they were first and foremost legal instruments used daily for tracking suspects on warrant, for pasting to the prisoner’s criminal record sheet on incarceration, and for the discharge of the prisoner taken a fortnight prior to release. Nevin’s work extended to exclusive photography for the Municipal and Territorial Police after his appointment in 1876 to the Town Hall as a civil servant, when the use of his government insignia stamp, which signified his status as government contractor while still operating as a commercial photographer, was no longer necessary.  Those prisoner mugshots taken at the Hobart Gaol from 1877 with the assistance of his younger brother Constable John Nevin, a full time salaried employee, were not taken on commission; they were taken and used exclusively for internal prison records and police office documentation.

William Smith per Gilmore (3), 1873 and 1874.
This item is held at the QVMAG, Launceston.

Thomas Nevin photographed William Smith again at the Hobart Gaol in February 1875 when Smith was arraigned for a further offence of larceny: this is the second photograph of the same man . It differs from the first one taken in 1873 which was copied for the Hobart Gaol in 1874. The 1875 photograph also bears Nevin’s government contractor stamp on verso, and is one of at least thirteen of his photographs of Tasmanian prisoners held at the Mitchell Library, NSW (PXB 274):

William Smith photo by T J Nevin 1875

William Smith per Gilmore (2) 1875.
Photographed by T.J. Nevin: stamped verso with Royal Arms insignia.
Photograph held at the Mitchell Library NSW.

Photos copyright ©  KLW NFC 2009 ARR
Prisoner photographs with Nevin’s government trademark on verso.
Mitchell Library NSW PXB 274

References: National Archives of Australia:
Series A1187: Registers of Proprietors [of Copyright] in Paintings, Drawings, Works of Sculpture, Engravings, and Photographs, C series, [with indexes] 15 Mar 1870 – 2 Sep 1910
Series A1719: Artistic Copyright Files, C Series 1 Jan 1871 – 31 Dec 1913
Series A2388: Volumes of forms used for the registration of the proprietorship of paintings, drawings, works of sculpture, engravings and photographs under the Copyright Act 1863 and 1890 1 Jan 1870 – 31 Dec 1909
The Tasmanian trademarks registry lists many applications from British, American, European companies with international brands of tobacco, liquor, and farming implements:
Series A1098 Register of Tasmanian Trade Marks 1869-1906
Series A1099 Classification Index to Tasmanian Trade Marks 1869-1906
Series A1101 Alphabetical Index to Proprietors of Tasmanian Trade Marks 1869-1906
Series A1566 Applications for Tasmanian Trade Marks 1869-1906

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