Photographers A. Bock, S. Clifford and T. Nevin at Port Arthur

In late April, 1866, photographer Alfred Bock was at the Port Arthur prison site on the Tasman Peninsula, 60 kms south of Hobart at the request of its Commandant, James Boyd. Alfred Bock’s studio – The City Photographic Establishment – at 140 Elizabeth Street, Hobart, was manned by his junior partner Thomas Nevin and his apprentice, younger brother William Bock, in his absence. Bock’s mission at Port Arthur was to provide a series of landscapes and portraits of officials. However, it was photographer Samuel Clifford, Nevin’s friend and mentor, of Liverpool Street, Hobart, who was the source and supplier of photographic materials to the Port Arthur prison administration, in this instance for Alfred Bock in April 1866, and again in August 1873, when Clifford himself visited the prison site.

Alfred Bock sent Samuel Clifford an urgent telegram from Port Arthur on 27th April  1866 requesting 24 dry plates – panoramic. The details of the telegram were recorded as –

March – May 1866 Account of Private Telegrams
Date 27th April, No. 269, Alfred Bock to Mr Clifford Liverpool St. H. Town,
“Send down 24 dry Plates Panoramic. by the Shannon,  at once. – Reply.”

Tasmanian Papers 316 (microfilm) 
Records of Telegrams sent and received between Hobart and Port Arthur 1863-1871
Mitchell Library, State Library NSW
Photos © KLW NFC Imprint 2013

Alfred Bock’s portraits of Commandant James Boyd were reported in the Mercury on 10th October 1866:

From Bock’s telegram, it is very clear that dry plate photography was practiced by both Alfred Bock and his assistants, and by Samuel Clifford, as early as 1866. At left is an example of Alfred Bock’s solar-enlarged photography which he may have devised from technical instructions published in The Photographic News, 1863. Both photographs are held at the State Library of Tasmania:

Notes for painted photograph of James Boyd on left:
Title: Mr. James Boyd
Creator(s): Bock, Alfred, 1835-1920
Date: 1866
Description: 1 photograph : sepia ; 15 x 10 cm.
Notes: Exact measurements : 144 x 100 mm, Title inscribed in ink on card mount centred below image., “Mercury 10/8/66, Portrait by Mr. Alfred Bock, presented to Jas. Boyd, 2/8/66” inscribed in pencil on verso., Original created by Alfred Bock., Photograph of an oil painting, painted over solar-enlarged photograph, head and shoulders inclined to left.
Subjects: Boyd, James – fl. 1866
Location: Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts
ADRI: AUTAS001125882142

Notes for photograph of James Boyd and his horse:
Title: James Boyd, Commandant P. Arthur
Creator(s): Bock, Alfred, 1835-1920
Date: 186-?
Description: 1 photograph : sepia ; 10 x 6 cm.
Notes: Exact measurements : 93 x 58 mm, Title inscribed in pencil on verso in unknown hand., Full length photograph of James Boyd standing beside his horse.
Location: Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts
ADRI: AUTAS001125882134

This photograph of the Port Arthur officials’ cricket team, also attributed to Bock, was probably taken in April 1866.

State Library of Tasmania
Title: Officers at Port Arthur Cricket Team
Creator(s):Bock, Alfred, 1835-1920
Date: Between 1858 and 1867
Description: 1 photograph mounted on board : sepia toned ; 7 x 10 cm.
Notes: Exact measurements of image: 58 x 95 mm., Title derived from note inscribed in pencil on verso by unknown hand., Alfred Bock’s trademark for his studio at 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart on verso.
Location: Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts
ADRI: AUTAS001126187517

See also these articles:

James Boyd, Port Arthur Commandant ca. 1860s. 
Source: Australia: Image of a Nation 1850-1950 by David Moore and Rodney Hall (Collins 1983).

The way bill for the government schooner Harriet of July 24th, 1873, recorded that a cargo of 12 gross (288) photographic glass plates were intended for Port Arthur. Photographer Samuel Clifford had supplied the plates in anticipation of photographing the Colonial Governor Du Cane and his party of vice-regal visitors from South Australia. Because of a major dispute between the incumbent Port Arthur commandant A. H. Boyd with the Lands and Survey Department’s photographer and painter William Piguenit, who subsequently resigned in protest at Boyd’s bullying, the commission to photograph the ruinous state of the Port Arthur prison site at the request of opponents within the Colonial government was assigned to Samuel Clifford and Thomas Nevin. Opponents to the continuation of extravagant expenditure urged Parliament in July 1873 to close down the prison, transfer the prisoners to the gaol in Hobart, and dismiss the much despised Port Arthur commandant, Adolarious Humphrey Boyd, on grounds of corruption. As a result, from July 1873, those sixty or so prisoners still at Port Arthur were relocated to the gaol in Hobart (Campbell St) where they were photographed by Thomas Nevin on arrival, and A. H. Boyd was effectively removed from Port Arthur to a position in charge of paupers at the Cascades Prison for Males in Hobart by February 1874. Boyd was neither a photographer, nor an engineer, and the row ensuing over Piguenit resonated throughout the dying days of his tenure at Port Arthur, both within Government and in the press.

Way bill for the Harriet, 20 July 1873:
288 photographic glasses as cargo to Port Arthur
Source: Tasmanian Papers 320 (microfilm)
Mitchell Library, State Library NSW
Photos © KLW NFC Imprint 2013

Samuel Clifford arrived at Port Arthur on board the Harriet on August 12th, 1873, together with a case of photographic materials. He fulfilled the commission, and departed Port Arthur on board the Harriett on 28 August 1873.

Way bill
Samuel Clifford (passenger list, top of second page) arrives at Port Arthur with photographic materials on August 12, 1873.

Way bill
Samuel Clifford (passenger list) departs Port Arthur on 22 August 1873.
Tasmanian Papers 320 (microfilm)
Mitchell Library, State Library NSW
Photos © KLW NFC Imprint 2013

Several photos taken by Samuel Clifford at Port Arthur were forwarded to the monthly magazine The Australasian Sketcher, which were published as engravings in August 1873, and mentioned again in the October 1873 issue:

“The photographs from which our views are engraved, as also those of Port Arthur, given in our last issue, were taken by Mr Clifford of Hobart Town.” The Australasian Sketcher 4 October 1873.

The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil was a monthly magazine published by the proprietors of The Argus between 1873 and 1889 and contained many illustrations, engravings, and articles which captured “the picturesque phases of our public and social life of notable objects and events in Australia and New Zeland”. It provides an important pictorial account of life in the colonies before the wide spread use of photography.(Notes from NLA Trove).

State Library of Tasmania
Stereo by Samuel Clifford, print by T. Nevin

State Library of Tasmania
Stereo print of Port Arthur by Thomas Nevin
Ref: 17AUTAS001124851759 (color corrected for display here)

Samuel Clifford’s series 1873
The Government Cottage, Port Arthur,
Photo dated 1873
State Library of Tasmania

Samuel Clifford, Port Arthur panoramic No, 2
State Library Tasmania

See also these articles:

Thomas Nevin had worked closely with Alfred Bock and Samuel Clifford from the mid 1860s to the mid 1870s. From Bock he learnt portraiture until Bock’s departure from Tasmania in 1867, and from Clifford he learnt stereography. Although some of Nevin’s townscapes survive in public collections (TMAG, TAHO, QVMAG), it is his studio portraiture of both private clients and prisoners which is his enduring legacy. Of the hundreds of extant prisoner mugshots in public collections taken by Nevin, two photographs of prisoners, taken in 1875 rate a mention here because the prisoners are wearing prison hats made at Port Arthur. The way bill for the government schooner Harriet for the 4th July 1873 listed a cargo of 2000 leather hats sent to Hobart.

Way bill for the Harriet 4th July 1873 from Port Arthur to Hobart
2000 leather caps, 1800 woollen ditto.
Tasmanian Papers 320 (microfilm)
Mitchell Library, State Library NSW
Photos © KLW NFC Imprint 2013

These photographs are the only two in public collections of Tasmanian convicts wearing the leather hats. Nevin’s photographs give an accurate idea of the styling of the leather hats, what were made of, when they were worn, who wore them, and how they were worn. A falsified and misleading description by Julia Clark of these two photographs by Nevin, which we originally photographed for this weblog in 2009,  has appeared in an article titled  More than Magpies: Tasmanian Convict Clothing in Public Collections, Linda Clark, Julia Clark, Elspeth Wishart, Kim Simpson and Ian Terry, Historic Environment Volume 24 Number 3 2012, without acknowledgement to either Nevin or the source of their information, namely these weblogs. They falsify the dates – 1880s instead of 1875, and in the footnote give a date of 1800 (!) for the photographs, minus the attribution to Nevin. These museum workers are reprehensible propogandists for Kim Simpson’s ancestor, A. H. Boyd, who wishes Boyd might have taken the NLA’s collection of photos of prisoners, though Julia Clark et al know by now only too well that it never happened, and never could have possibly happened.

The two photographs of prisoners, James Mullins on left and William Smith on right, were taken in 1875 at the Hobart Gaol. Both are wearing leather hats. Verso bears Nevin’s stamp with Hobart Supreme Court Royal Arms insignia.

Photos © KLW NFC Imprint 2013
Mitchell Library SLNSW (PXB 274)

Neither carte bears a date, but the photographs can be dated from the week in July 1875 when both men were booked and arrested. Mullins’ carte (on left) is numbered recto “198” and Smith’s (on right) is numbered recto “200”. Nevin took an earlier and different photograph of an unshaven Smith, which is numbered “199” and stamped verso as well. It is held at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery. See this article here on this site.

William Smith per Gilmore 3.
Photo by Thomas Nevin, July 1875; copyright KLW NFC 2009 ARR
Stamped verso with Nevin’s government stamp
Mitchell Library NSW PXB 274 No.1

On May 8th, 1874, Thomas Nevin journeyed to Port Arthur on board the Harriet, in the company of a prisoner whom he had earlier photographed as William Campbell, but who was subsequently hanged as Job Smith. The new Surgeon-Commandant of the prison site, Dr Coverdale, by that date was implementing a speedy evacuation of all prisoners to the Hobart Gaol. Nevin photographed some of these serious offenders in situ at Port Arthur, but the majority he photographed when they were received in Hobart.

Mr Nevin arrives at Port Arthur aboard the Harriet, May 8th, 1874
accompanying the prisoner whom he had photographed as William Campbell
but who was hanged as Job Smith at the Hobart Gaol, May 1875.
Source: Mitchell Library SLNSW, Tasmanian Papers Ref: 320.

William Campbell returned to the Hobart Gaol four days later in the company of Constable Mooney on board the Harriet , 12 May 1874. He carried no luggage. Nevin remained at Port Arthur for another week, returning to Hobart with his father-in-law, master mariner Captain James Day, on board the Star.

Photo by Thomas J. Nevin of prisoner William Campbell, hanged as Job Smith. Color-corrected to reveal Nevin’s studio of hand-tinting of the prison issue scarf .
National Library of Australia Collection
William Campbell, per S. [Sir] R. [Robert] Peel, taken at Port Arthur, 1874 [picture] 1874.
1 photograph on carte-de-visite mount : albumen, hand col. ; 9.4 x 5.6 cm., on mount 10.4 x 6.4 cm.


Tasmanian Papers 316, 317, 320  (microfilm) 
Mitchell Library, State Library NSW
ALL photos © KLW NFC Imprint 2013

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