Exactly 135 years ago, Thomas Nevin commemorated Christmas with a “PHOTOGRAPHIC FEAT”.
On Christmas Day, 25th December 1874, The Mercury newspaper (Tasmania) published a notice which served the dual purpose of praising Nevin’s photographic talents and suggesting by way of praise that the “literary curiosity” would make a great gift as a Christmas card:
T. J. Nevin’s photographic feat, The Mercury 25 December 1874
A PHOTOGRAPHIC FEAT. – Mr T. J. Nevin, of Elizabeth-street, has performed a feat in photography which may be justly regarded as a literary curiosity. He has succeeded in legibly producing the front page of The Mercury of Wednesday, the 23 inst., on a card three inches by two inches. Many of the advertisements could be read without the aid of a glass, and the seven columns admit of a margin all round the card.
Below is a microfiche scan of the front page of The Mercury, Wednesday 23rd December 1874. It is a poor reproduction despite our 21st century technology, yet Thomas Nevin managed to photograph the full broadsheet onto a 3 x 2 inch card without sacrificing margins or legibility.
Scan of front page The Mercury 23rd December 1874
Click on image for large view
Thomas Nevin would have delivered to the newspaper office a commercial version of the card which must have been printed verso with his official studio stamp in 1874, the only one of his stamps bearing his full initials – ” T. J. Nevin” above the government insignia, since the journalist has used his full initials in the report. He was better known as Thos Nevin. The same studio stamp was printed on the verso of this carte-de-visite vignette of a child (Lucy Batchelor Collection). Nevin or his studio assistants, probably in this instance his wife Elizabeth, hand-painted the green and red motif of Christmas holly, possibly over some object held by the child. The same sprig of holly motif appears on other extant cartes by Nevin, positioned in the hands of a teenage girl in one carte bearing the hand-written inscription verso “Clifford & Nevin, Hobart Town“, (Harrisson Collection), and in another, on the lapel of a young sailor (TMAG; SLTas). The carte of this (unknown) toddler would have been included in Nevin’s stock of Christmas cards for 1874, on sale at 140 Elizabeth Street along with the miniature reproduction of The Mercury‘s front page.
Photograph of baby with Christmas holly
and its verso by T. J. Nevin, Christmas 1874
Scans courtesy of Robyn and Peter Bishop
Copyright © The Lucy Batchelor Collection 2009 Arr.