Apprentices: The Good, The Bad and The Careless

APPROPRIATION and THEFT: Frank Miller at Alfred Winter’s studio
DANGEROUS DRIVING: William Ross at Thomas J. Nevin’s studio
MAJOR THEFT: Joshua Anson at H. H. Baily’s studio

A copycat theft: Frank Miller
One of these two photographs, both taken by Alfred Winter in 1870 and framed and mounted here as album views probably ca. 1880, was produced in evidence as theft by Winter’s apprentice, Frank Miller, in 1877.

Photograph – Glenorchy – Elwick Race Track – Grandstand
Item Number: PH5/1/18
Start Date: 01 Jan 1870 End Date: 31 Dec 1870
View online:
Archives Office Tasmania

Photograph – Glenorchy – Elwick Race Course
Item Number: PH5/1/12
Start Date: 01 Jan 1870
End Date: 31 Dec 1870
View online:
Archives Office Tasmania

Commercial photographer Alfred Winter (1837-1911) was fond of fashionable society and grand landscapes. On Saturdays and Sundays he would travel to beauty spots with his apprentice, Frank Miller, who had a prison record, and who ended up in Detective Connor’s custody for the appropriation of Winter’s photographs, valued at 6 shillings:

Alfred Winter’s apprentice arrested for appropriation of goods
Mercury 19 October 1877


LARCENY.- A young man named Frank Miller. who was in the employment of Mr. Alfred Winter, photographer, was arrested yesterday by Detective Connor, on a charge of appropriating photographic goods belonging to his employer. Miller will be brought before the Police Court this morning.

Undoubtedly, this was a copycat theft of the very serious theft by Joshua Anson from his employer Henry Hall Baily earlier in the same year, 1877 (see below, and this article here).

One of the photographs in question was a view taken at the Elwick Racecourse. The case of theft was dismissed by the judge because there was no positive evidence that Alfred Winter had lost any photographic views that had not been gifts to his apprentice. With the exception of Mr Needham at the Government Printing Office where the apprentice had presented some of Winter’s landscapes – Alfred Winter held a commission with the Land and Works Department and was favoured in later years “By Appointment to His Excellency The Governor” according to his studio stamp – no other witness deposed in Winter’s favour, despite claims that the apprentice had obliterated his employer’s mark from the versos. In the months following,  the press reported continual harassment of Alfred Winter as he walked about the streets of Hobart by gangs of boys who knew of the charge. The Mercury reported the case in detail:

The case against Winter’s apprentice was dismissed
Mercury (Hobart, Tas.), Thursday 25 October 1877, page 2


Wednesday, October 24, 1877.
Before the Police Magistrate, and Captain Cowan and Mr. Henry Cook, Js.P.
ABSENT SEAMAN.-William Curtis, charged with absconding from the whaling barque Marie Laure, was remanded until Friday next.
LARCENY.-Francis Miller was charged by Detective Connor with having stolen a quantity of photographic views, valued at 6s., from Alfred Winter. Mr. J. S. Dodds appeared for the prisoner. William Fowler deposed that he had known the prisoner for some three or four years, and remembered his asking him to sell some views for him in August last, which he stated Mr. Winter had given to him. Witness sold the views to various persons, and handed the money to the prisoner. The views produced in Court were those witness had sold.
To Mr. Dodds : It was upwards of two months ago since witness sold some photographs to Mr. Needham. He asked no questions as to where the where the photographs came from. Prisoner was in the habit of taking views himself. The initials A.W. were not on the back of the views at the time they were sold.

Frederick Needham
, messenger in the Government Printing Office, deposed to purchasing some of the views produced from the boy Fowler. The ones produced in Court were the same.
To Mr. Dodds : Witness had a conversation with Mr. Winter about the views a fortnight ago. Did not give information to Mr. Winter about the photographs. Witness received no consideration or promise of any from Mr. Winter for finding the matter out.
Alfred Winter deposed that he was a photographer, carrying on business in Elizabeth-street.
The prisoner was in his employ, and had access to the goods in the establishment. Witness had given prisoner some views a long time ago. The views produced in court were taken by witness; some only a few months ago. The views produced were the property of witness. He initialled the backs of the views at the time he was in company with Detective Connor. Found them in prisoner’s house. Witness’ stamp had been obliterated from some of the cards produced.
To Mr. Dodds : It had been witness’s custom to take views upon Sundays and holidays, when the prisoner accompanied him. Would not swear that he had not given the prisoner the view of the Elwick Racecourse produced.
Detective Connor deposed to finding five photographic views in the messenger’s room, Government Printing Office, on the 18th instant, the arrest of prisoner, and subsequent receipt of other photographs from various offices connected with the Lands and Works Office. Some of the photographs were claimed by A. Winter as being his property, while he could not identify others.
Mr. Dodds, having addressed the Bench on behalf of the accused, called three witnesses, all of whom deposed to hearing Winter state in the presence of the accused that, in consideration of him rendering assistance in taking views on Sundays and holidays, he could have copies of the views when they were printed. One witness also stated that Winter gave the accused two damaged photographs.
The Police Magistrates referred to the perplexing character of the case, owing to the discrepancies in the evidence, alluded to the admission of Mr. Winter that he gave the accused some photographs some time ago, but did not know what they were, and said that, from the evidence, it appeared that about two years ago Mr. Winter gave the accused permission to take some photographs. The accused may have exercised that right some time subsequently to receiving the permission. There was no positive evidence that Mr. Winter ever lost any views out of his shop. Upon the whole, the magistrates had come to the conclusion that there was a serious doubt about the case, which the prisoner would have the benefit of, and be discharged.

Source: Mercury (Hobart, Tas.), Thursday 25 October 1877, page 2

Dangerous driving: William Ross
Photographer Thomas Nevin’s young apprentice William Ross was 15 years old when he was arrested in Glenorchy for driving a vehicle without lights, tried at Glenorchy on 24th April 1873 and incarcerated for seven (7) days:

William Ross was discharged after seven days in gaol, 30 April 1873
Source: Tasmania Reports of Crime Information for Police

Fifteen year old apprentice William Ross had no previous conviction, was Tasmanian born and “Free”, yet his carelessness in driving (a horse and buggy, presumably) one night without carriage lights earned him a criminal record.

A hand coloured vignetted portrait of a bearded man in semi-profile which is printed verso with the rare Nevin & Smith stamp bearing the Duke of Edinburgh’s feathered insignia (1868). Copyright © The Liam Peters Collection 2010. All right reserved.

Studio portrait by Thomas J. Nevin ca, 1870-1875
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection TMAG Ref: Q1984.294
Verso with the handwritten inscription in Samuel Clifford’s orthography: “Clifford & Nevin Hobart Town”.
Photos recto and verso copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2014-2015

The original cdv of this young woman with a frank stare direct to camera was taken by Thomas Nevin before 1876, and reprinted by Samuel Clifford until 1878, per this advertisement in the Mercury, 17th January 1876:

Mr T. J. Nevin’s friends may depend that I will endeavour to satisfy them with any prints they may require from his negatives. S. CLIFFORD

While Thomas J. Nevin’s earliest experiences in apprenticeship may have been at the studios of Douglas Kilburn or Charles A. Woolley, his associations with the highly commercial photographers Alfred Bock and Samuel Clifford in the years 1862-1867 were his most formative. From Alfred Bock he learnt studio portraiture and hand-tinting techniques. From Samuel Clifford, whose friendship endured for the next 30 years, he learnt stereography. On Alfred Bock’s insolvency and departure for Victoria in 1867, Thomas J. Nevin formed a partnership with fellow photographer Robert Smith at Bock’s former studio, 140 Elizabeth Street, Hobart Town, operating with the business name Nevin & SmithThe City Photographic Establishment. When the partnership with Robert Smith was dissolved in early 1868, Thomas Nevin apprenticed his younger brother Jack (Constable John or W. J. Nevin, 1851-1891) who acted as his assistant at the Hobart Gaol during Thomas’s commission for the photographic documentation of prisoner records in the 1870s-1880s. While their father John Nevin snr (1808-1887) was still alive, the brothers maintained their New Town studio which they had first set up in early 1864, Thomas resuming professional photography there in 1881 on leaving the civil service with the Hobart City Corporation. This stereograph of Sim’s coal mine, one of a dozen or so extant photographs taken in the district of New Town and Kangaroo Valley (now Lenah Valley, Hobart) is one of many Thomas Nevin advertised for sale from the New Town Post Office in the mid 1860s:

Horse-drawn whim at Mr Sim’s Excelsior Coal Mine, Kangaroo Valley, New Town, Tasmania
Stereograph on arched buff mount by Thomas J. Nevin, 1870s
“Thos Nevin New Town” studio stamp on verso
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection
TMAG Ref: Q16826.11

Verso: Horse-drawn whim at Mr Sim’s Excelsior Coal Mine, Kangaroo Valley, New Town, Tasmania
Stereograph on arched buff mount by Thomas J. Nevin, 1870s
“Thos Nevin New Town” studio stamp on verso
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection
TMAG Ref: Q16826.11

Less than a year after his marriage to Elizabeth Rachel Day in 1871 and with the birth of their first child, daughter Mary Florence Elizabeth (known as May Nevin) in 1872, Thomas J. Nevin and his young family had taken up residence at 138 Elizabeth Street, Hobart Town, next door to the studio. Between the residence at 138 and the studio at 140 Elizabeth Street was the glass house. It was listed in The Hobart Town Gazette of 1872 with the address 138½ Elizabeth Street, and tenanted by Nevin’s young apprentice William Ross. The glass house was built by Alfred Bock and Thomas Nevin in the 1860s, and was eventually sold to photographer Stephen Spurling elder at the end of 1874 while Nevin concentrated on working in situ with the police. Spurling auctioned it when declared bankrupt one year later in November 1875:

Stephen Spurling elder, bankrupt, sale of photographer’s glass house
Mercury 29 November 1875

A view of Thomas Nevin’s studio and shop, extreme right of frame, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart
Stereograph by T. J. Nevin ca. 1867-70 of the City Photographic Establishment
The dark building next door at 138 Elizabeth St., Nevin’s residence, was leased from A. E. Biggs
T. Nevin impress on lower centre of mount.
The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection TMAG Ref: Q1994.56.12

Another view of Thomas Nevin’s studio and shop, extreme right of frame, at 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart
The dark building next door at 138 Elizabeth St., Nevin’s residence, was leased from A. E. Biggs
Stereograph by T. J. Nevin ca. 1867-1870 of the City Photographic Establishment
TMAG Ref: Q1994-56-33

Thomas J. Nevin’s commission with the Municipal Police Office at the Hobart Town Hall, the Hobart Gaol and the New Town Territorial Police became central to his successful operation as a commercial photographer granted a Colonial Warrant with government contracts extending into the 1880s. His appointment to full-time civil service in the position of Hall and Office Keeper of the Hobart Town Hall in 1875 entailed the relocation of his young family to the Town Hall Keeper’s apartment. The studio at 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart was formerly leased from James Spence, proprietor of the Royal Standard Hotel next door at 142 Elizabeth St. on the corner of Elizabeth and Patrick Streets. The residence and glass house tenanted by William Ross which Thomas Nevin had leased from Abraham Edwin Biggs at 138 -138½ Elizabeth St. Hobart Town were offered for sale in December 1874. The lease was taken up in 1875 by shoe maker William Chandler and retained as a bootmaker’s business well into the 1940s. Thomas J. Nevin’s successor to professional photography, his cousin-in-law, James Chandler, was born to William and Mary Chandler there at the old studio, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart, in 1877.

Advertisement: for sale of lease, properties of A. E. Biggs: the house at Burville Place, New Town, and the studio and residence(s) at 140 Elizabeth St, Hobart.
Mercury, 16 December 1874


That valuable city property, situate in Elizabeth-street, between Brisbane and Patrick-streets, and tenanted by Messrs. Ross and Nevin. This is also in capital repair.
The attention of persons seeking investments, residences, or places of business, is called to the sale of these properties.
Title guaranteed.
Terms – Liberal, at sale.

Major theft: Joshua Anson sentenced to 14 years.
Among photographers’ apprentices in 1870s Hobart was the notable Joshua Anson. He stole cameras, photographic equipment, mounts, chemicals and albums from his employer Henry Hall Baily over five years between 1872 and 1877. He ordered the importation of glass negatives and mounts from London and Paris on H. H. Baily’s account and without Baily’s consent. He also reprinted albums by Samuel Clifford as his own work. The value placed on the goods far exceeded the court valuation of £180. Chief Justice Francis Smith informed the jury that theft on this scale warranted a sentence of 14 years. The Law Digest (1897) recorded the event with the normative 14 year sentence, and the refusal of bail. Joshua Anson was sentenced to just two years because he was young, 22 years old at the time of the trial in June 1877, and pleaded to be kept apart from the others prisoners on incarceration because he felt he was above them. He was photographed on incarceration at the Hobart Gaol in 1877 by the Nevin brothers (see below):

Joshua Anson, 22 years old, arraigned at the Supreme Court, Hobart on 10th July 1877  for the offence of larceny as a servant, was sentenced to two years.

Joshua Anson was discharged from H. M. Gaol on 15 January 1879, the residue of sentence remitted.
Source: Tasmania Report of Crime Information for Police, Gov’s printer J. Barnard

Further details of the case are here on this site.


Bail – where allowed – on what considerations
Whether the Court will admit a prisoner to bail depends on the seriousness of the charge, the strength of the evidence, and the punishment for the offence. So bail refused in a case of larceny by a servant, where the depositions disclosed a strong case against the prisoner, and the possible punishment was 14 years.
In re ANSON, June 29, ’77 (1.189).

Digest of cases decided in Tasmania, 1856-1896 (1897)
Author: Hore, Leslie Fraser Standish, 1870-;
Southern Law society of Tasmania,
Hobart; Tasmania. Supreme Court
Subject: Law reports, digests, etc
Publisher: Hobart, Tasmania, Cox & co., printers
Year: 1897

Another theft by Joshua Anson was reported in the Launceston Examineron 30 May, 1896.


HOBART, Friday
At the City Court to-day Joshua Anson, photographer, was charged with having robbed Charles Perkins of £32 12s5d. Accused, who was not represented by counsel, stated he had had two epileptic fits since he was arrested, and his head was not now clear. He asked for a remand. After the evidence of the prosecution had been taken, the accused was remanded till Tuesday.
Beautiful spring-like weather is prevailing.

Detail of Joshua Anson’s Hobart Gaol record with photos taken 1877 (Nevin) & 1897 (unkown)
Source: Archives Office State Library of Tasmania
Mugshots 1891 GD67-1-10, 1895 GD128-1-2, 1901 GD128-1-1

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