The Nevin farm burglariously entered 1881

During the night of the 16th instant the dwelling of John Nevin, Kangaroo Valley, was burglariously entered, and the following articles stolen there-from: – 2 white shirts, one much worn; 2 Scotch twill shirts, one has a patch of different material across the shoulder, the other broken at the elbow; 1 old flannel shirt, stained in front; 1 white pillow-slip; 2 jars of raspberry jam; 2 lbs. soap; 2 lbs. bacon; the property of and shirts identifiable by John Nevin. … More The Nevin farm burglariously entered 1881

Vernacular or art? Nevin at the threshold in 1874

The “vernacular” is defined as any photography that is not “art”: postcards, insurance records, passport photos, touristic photos, court documents, scientific images, forensic photographs taken at crime scenes etc etc. Thomas J. Nevin is somewhat remarkable in that his photographic records for the police, especially from the years 1872-1880s, are among the earliest to survive in Australian public collections and that his prisoner portraits are claimed as both art and vernacular photography. His portraiture techniques applied to judicial photography were “artistic” in a way that the mugshots produced by prison photographers in jurisdictions elsewhere  such as Victoria & NSW, in Australia, and Millbank and Pentonville, in the UK were unequivocal, documentary captures. Nevin’s prisoner photographs were not only posed, printed and framed as commercial portraits – either soft-focus framing or vignetted with darker backcloths – in some instances, they were also hand-coloured for heightened realism. … More Vernacular or art? Nevin at the threshold in 1874

Tricks of the prison limner and sitter 1866

“The credit which has been denied to photography on the score of art capacity must be conceded to its literal fidelity in rendering facts. That it is not imaginative, that it cannot modify or omit details from its presentments, becomes, in many cases, its cardinal virtue. If it nothing extenuate, it sets down naught in malice, and when it enters the witness-box, its evidence leaves little room for doubt. Hence it has taken an important place as an auxiliary to the administration of justice, both in civil and criminal cases. In multiplying indisputable fac-similes of important documents, in indicating pictorially the relative positions of disputed territory, its use is obvious. But it is in its aid to the discovery of identity in persons charged with crime that its legal use is most important …” … More Tricks of the prison limner and sitter 1866

Constable W. J. Nevin at inquest 1882

Jack Nevin was his elder brother’s assistant at the Hobart Gaol, Campbell Street during Thomas’ commissions as police photographer in prisons and police courts. He helped maintain one of their photographic studios in New Town, assisting in the production of stereographs and studio portraits on cartes-de-visite intermittently from the 1860s. He was employed at the Hobart Gaol under the supervision of the keeper Ringrose Atkins from 1874, and became a Constable on salary at the male prison at Cascades and H.M. Prison, Hobart in 1875, serving until his untimely death at age 39 in 1891. … More Constable W. J. Nevin at inquest 1882

Thomas Nevin 1886: assistant bailiff to Inspector Dorsett

Reported in the press during December 1880 and January 1881, the Mayor’s Committee expressed deep regret at Thomas Nevin’s dismissal from the position of Town Hall keeper (an archaic term which included the duties of keeper of public archives). Mindful of Nevin’s growing family, the Hobart City Council retained his government contract with warrant and photographic duties as assistant bailiff to the Municipal Police, Hobart and the New Town Territorial Police. Working principally in the City Police Court and Hobart Supreme Court as assistant to Sub-Inspector John Dorset(t), Nevin continued to provide identification photographs of prisoners up until 1886, a service commenced in 1872 under a 14-year contract to the colonial government’s prison administration. Many of these mugshots were collated with warrants issued by the Municipal Police Office. For example, two death warrants with T. J. Nevin’s photographs of the condemned man attached (e.g. James Sutherland 1883; Henry Stock 1884) now survive intact in the Mitchell Collection at the State Library of NSW. … More Thomas Nevin 1886: assistant bailiff to Inspector Dorsett