Thomas Nevin at the Tasmanian Poultry Show 1869


Title: Cereopsis Novae-Hollandiae : Lath. [Cape Barren goose] J. Gould and H.C. Richter del et lith.
Author/Creator: Richter, Henry Constantine, 1821-1902
Publication Information: [London] : Hullmandel & Walton, [1848].
Physical description: 1 print : hand-coloured lithograph ; 382 x 558 mm sheet and one page of text.
Format: print image (online)
Accession number: No. 1082.
Notes:’J. Gould and H.C. Richter del et lith.’ printed lower left below image.
Publisher printed lower right below image.
Title centred below image.
Online version of this image available
In: From: Birds of Australia, Vol. VII, pl. 1.
Citation: Digitised item from: Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office

The Prize Cards
If any of the unique photographs of poultry, pigeons etc produced by Thomas Nevin as prize-cards for the 1869 Tasmanian Poultry Show have at all survived, they appear not to be extant in Australian public collections.

Source:The Tasmanian Times (Hobart Town, Tas. : 1867 – 1870) Mon 9 Aug 1869 Page 2


TASMANIAN POULTRY SOCIETY—We may remind our readers that the annual exhibition of this society, under the patronage of his Excellency the Governor and his Worship the Mayor and Aldermen commences tomorrow, and will be continued the following day. A very large number of entries have been made, so that a first-rate exhibition may be expected, and to add to its attractiveness valuable gifts of poultry, pigeons, canaries, &c. will be distributed each evening. The prize cards, which we have been permitted to inspect are beautifully executed photographs of poultry, pigeons, &c., by Mr Nevin, of this city, from engravings of model birds.

What exactly had Thomas Nevin produced as photographs for these prize cards? The journalist at the Tasmanian Times had inspected them and described them as “beautifully executed photographs … from engravings of model birds“. So whose engravings had he photographed, and why had he not just photographed live birds in their cages? Of course, in an era when the capture of a living being required complete stillness from the sitter for several minutes, the constant jerks and twitches of birds would have rendered every attempt a total blur. Only dead birds give a pleasingly sharp image (see Morton Allport’s below). Stuffed birds would have been a handy solution, if knowing the names of the winners in advance was possible, but that too was not the case. It is entirely possible that prior to the opening of show, Thomas Nevin was not informed of the names of particular prize winners from the many dozens of different classes of entrant, so he produced instead a series of cards from engravings of “model birds” – i.e. generic images – already published from earlier poultry shows, such as these prints from the Birmingham (UK) Poultry Show which appeared in the Illustrated London News on December 10th, 1859. Without a single example, however, the exact format and appearance of Nevin’s prize-cards for the 1869 Tasmanian Poultry Show will remain unknown.

BIRMINGHAM Poultry Show Prize Geese Ducks Pigeons Chickens
Antique wood engraved print taken from the Illustrated London News
December 10th.1859 1859
Sourced at eBay Nov. 4, 2017

The Annual Show at the Hobart Town Hall
In just 60 years – from 1804 to 1869 when this extensive exhibition of exotic species of poultry was held at the Hobart Town Hall – the Europeans settlers to the island of Tasmania had managed to introduce most of the heritage chicken breeds alive in their era and every other exotic breed of game as well. Native species on display, such as the Cape Barren Geese from the Bass Strait region (see Gould’s coloured lithograph above) are mentioned in this report as almost extinct despite the introduction of the Native Game Act (1860). This report was published by the Mercury the day after the opening.


Source: The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954) Wed 11 Aug 1869 Page 3 TASMANIAN POULTRY SOCIETY.

Read the full article in the Mercury here.


The fifteenth annual show of poultry and song birds, held under the auspices of the Tasmanian Poultry Society, was opened yesterday in the Town Hall, and, notwithstanding the unfavourable state of the weather, was numerously attended. The show was one of the largest yet held in the city, and the spacious hall and ante-rooms afforded abundant space for the proper display of the exhibits without inconveniencing the promenaders, The exhibition was under the immediate patronage of His Excellency the Governor, and the Hon Mrs. Du Cane, and of His Worship the Acting Mayor, and the Alderman of the City. His Excellency arrived with Mrs. Du Cane, and accompanied by Mr. Chichester, at 2 o’clock and remained in the hall for upwards of an hour inspecting with much interest the various exhibits. The entries in all the leading classes were numerous, and the competition was so keen, that in many cases the Judges found their task a very difficult one. Of course, it is not possible on such an occasion, to satisfy every exhibitor. The breeders of fancy birds as a rule entertain very diverse opinions as to the merits of exhibited specimens, and each has schooled his eye to the recognition of peculiar beauties in his own, which are wanting in those of his neighbours. Judges, under such circumstances, can only be guided by the generally recognised standards of purity, and we believe that the awards of yesterday were such as to meet general approval. Including those sent in for exhibition only, we counted over 270 pens and cages in the show, a great display for Hobart Town. The exhibits embraced fowls of every class, turkeys, geese, ducks, pigeons, canaries and song birds in great variety, besides pheasants, rabbits, and miscellaneous live stock, including a kangaroo. Beginning at the barn door department, Dorkings, Black Spanish, Cochin Chinas, Bramah Pootras, and others of their kind were exceedingly well represented, and many of the specimens were of the. very first quality, the prize-winners in the respective classes being greatly admired. The Shanghais especially were in excellent feather, of good color , and perfect wonders in size. They reminded us of the first specimens of this kind of fowl shown in Hobart Town, which were entered some years ago by Mr. Thomas Paterson, a gentleman whose name we were sorry to miss from yesterday’s entry list. The Game Fowls exhibited were below the average, and for those birds, which have generally formed an attractive feature of the show, the season seems to have been somewhat unfavourable.
There were a few pens, however, deserving of merit and their qualities were duly appreciated by the visitors, and recognised by the Judges. The Game Bantams, particularly. The duckwings were exceedingly beautiful and formed a most attractive feature of the show, they were in very fine plumage, and nearly all worthy of honourable mention. There were nine pens of turkeys, but we cannot refer to them as of more than medium excellence. One pen of pure white, being curiosities, in their way, were greatly admired. The water fowls were not very numerously represented. A couple of pens of very fine goose, were shown by Mr. Perry, being hybrids, the produce of the African goose, imported by Mr. Graves, and the good, old grey goose of England. Mr. Perry was the fortunate purchaser of a pair of African geese at the Peoples’ Auction, in aid of the Franklin Island Fund, and tho noble birds shown yesterday represents a portion of the profits of his speculation. There were two or three pens of Aylesbury ducks shown yesterday, but we cannot speak of them very highly ; they were of good size and pure in colour, but their condition did not entitle them to rank as first-class specimens of this famous breed. A pair of very pretty Maori ducks exhibited by Mr. Alderman Belbin attracted a great deal of notice, and were much admired. Before leaving the water fowl, we must not omit to mention a pair of very fine Cape Barren geese exhibited by Mr J. W. Graves. Those beautiful creatures are natives of Cape Barren, and are peculiar to the region of Bass Straits. They are now becoming almost extinct, and it is to be regretted that some protection is not afforded to them by our Native Game Act. They are remarkably docile and affectionate, and the gander shown yesterday, who rejoices in the name of Darby, follows his owner about like a dog, and perambulated the room several times, allowing the children to pat and make friends with him. The Hon. Mrs. Du Cane was the exhibitor of three fine English pheasants, a cock and two hens, which were much admired. These shy and beautiful creatures were in a wicker hamper the roof of which was properly padded to prevent injury to the birds resulting from any sudden fright to which they might be liable in their novel position. This example is one which might be advantageously followed by other exhibitors of fancy birds of this class. The pigeons were a great feature of the show, and there were upwards of seventy cages exhibited, embracing nearly every variety: bald-heads, all colors ; yellow beards, blue beards, poutors, tumblers, turbits, almonds carriers, archangels, Jacobins, barbs, nuns, kites and others in variety too numerous to particularise. A pair of Lachlan pigeons, exhibited among the doves, resembling a good deal the crested pigeon of the marshes, were very greatly admired. In the first ante-room there were twenty-six cages of various song birds and parrots, and twelve pens of rabbit. Some of these were for competition, some for exhibition only, and some for sale. They represented nearly every class of English song bird, including” the glorious lark that wakes the morn.” Foreign birds were also plentiful, and there were many of the denizens of our own Tasmanian bush ; several of the cages were indeed full of these pretty little creature, some of which were ticketed for sale at exceedingly low price. Among the parrots were some handsome specimens of the Budgerigar or shell parrot of South Australia. The rabbits shown are all very fine, and fanciers will be much pleased by a visit to the show. The second ante-room was entirely set apart for the exhibition of canaries, and there were fifty four cages, some containing single pairs, and some of larger size completely filled with these birds. Of the varieties we feel ourselves incompetent to enter upon any description, but all the leading kinds were well illustrated from the burlesque contortion which the ” fancy” have raised to the dignity of the ” standard bird,” down to the plump little ” dickey” of our parlors, for whom we must ever retain our affection, even when confronted with the extraordinary things that breeding has done for us. Great care is evidently taken by the Hobart Town dilettanti in breeding and rearing canaries; every year there is an increase in the number of exhibits, and an improvement in the stock, and now that an annual canary show has been inaugurated, the interesting and profitable pursuit will no doubt receive a still further impetus. We have briefly sketched the leading features of the show opened yesterday, and to be continued today in the Town Hall. It is one well worthy of encouragement, and we trust to see it largely patronised by the public.
We are not in a position to publish the prize list owing to the somewhat confused manner in which the Committee conduct their business. The prize tickets were not all attached to the pens until hours after the opening of the show, and we found it impossible to obtain a correct list for ourselves. An arrangement was made with the Secretary and the gentlemen assisting him, to hand us a copy of the document, but on applying for it at the time fixed, we found that it had been, otherwise disposed of. We think the Committee of the Society might arrange with the Judges to complete their awards in such time as would enable an ordinarily expert clerk to prepare a correct prize-list by the hour appointed for opening the exhibition. Nearly every year we have been called upon to make corrections, after publication, owing to the difficulty in obtaining the list of prizes, and if the members of the society desire us in future to publish it they must make arrangements to supply us with an authorised copy in reasonable time.
There was a very large attendance in the evening, when the Hall was brilliantly lighted, and a fine band was in attendance under the leadership of Mr. Simpson. A distribution of miscellaneous prizes took place soon after ten o’clock, the result of which greatly pleased the holders of lucky numbers, and afforded an agreeable excitement to those who had to retire with disappointed hopes. It may be consolatory for them to know that the same proceedings will be repeated this evening, when we wish them better luck.

Source::The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954) Wed 11 Aug 1869 Page 3 TASMANIAN POULTRY SOCIETY.

The journalist in the second last paragraph used the occasion to blame the Committee of the Tasmanian Poultry Society for the delay in supplying his newspaper with the correct and final list of prize winners. It was a problem encountered in previous years, and this year was no exception, it seems. The delay in producing the list of finalists may have affected whose prize cards Thomas Nevin had made ready to be “attached to the pens“. He was still attaching his prize-cards to the cages late into the evening on opening day.


Excerpt: Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954), Thursday 12 August 1869, page 4

TRANSCRIPT: full article

The above exhibition was open again yesterday from 10 am. to 6 p.m., and also from 6pm. to 10 p.m. There was a large attendance of visitors throughout both periods and in the evening especially the crowd was so dense as to render it difficult to move through the Hall, to say nothing of obtaining a clear view of the exhibits. Some alterations in tho arrangements had been made, and there were various additions to the Show one of which, both on account of its intrinsic interest and its conspicuous position, could not fail to attract tho notice of every visitor. We refer to tho beautiful Angora ram, presented by the late Sir Richard Dry – to the people’s auction, and there purchased by Mr Alfred Jones, of New Town. This fine creature was stationed at the head of the staircase, immediately in front of the entrance door-way, and its shining silken fleece won many attribute of admiration from the passers by. Another change consisted in the placing on either side of the arched doorway leading into the singing birds compartment, of a “boomer” kangaroo and a couple of emus respectively, a very appropriate mode of reminding tho spectators of the national symbols of the island. A very interesting episode of the day was a visit paid to the Show by the children of the Queen’s Orphan Asylum, who were marched in procession, headed by their several teachers and the capital little band of the institution playing appropriate airs. One of the most constant frequenters of the Hall since it was opened for the purposes of the Show, has been Mr. Clifford, of Dunedin, who some two years since conveyed a quantity of trout ova hence to that province and is now amongst us with the view of taking down an additional supply. It is pleasing to be able to announce that this gentleman, notwithstanding that he was for 10 years a resident of Victoria, and has subsequently spent half as long in new Zealand, frankly admits that the Show excels anything of its kind that he has seen in either of those colonies. Not only as regards the variety and quality of the exhibits, but also in the excellence of the pens and the arrangement, and classification of the birds. As Mr. Clifford is about to return shortly to Dunedin, he has availed of the opportunity afforded by the exhibition to make several purchases of the best varieties of poultry exhibited. We need scarcely say that we heartily wish him success with his investments. In consequence of the patronage which the Society has met with from the general public, the Show will continue open again todav, Thursday, from 12 to 6 and 1 to 10 p.m. There will be another distribution of gifts in the evening.

Source: The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 – 1954)  Thu 12 Aug 1869 Page 4  TASMANIAN POULTRY SOCIETY.

A significant change overnight was the arrangement of a boomer kangaroo and a pair of emus placed on either side of the doorway leading to the singing birds room. Described as “national symbols of the island”, they were used by photographers Charles A Woolley  and Alfred Winter in their studio stamp designs (below) and by J. S. Lamont’s music and lyrics for the cover of the national song “Our own Tasmanian home” (ca. 1859):

Left: Alfred Winter’s stamp ca. 1874 (State Library Victoria)
Right: Charles . Woolley’s stamp ca. 1865 (KLW NFC Private Collection)

Paradoxically, competing symbologies in 19th century Tasmania used native animal iconography to underscore the imperative to nationalism, and reinvestments of traditional British animal iconography to herald the coming postcolonial State.With movements such as the lobby to end transportation in 1853, and the later Acclimatisation Societies which organised the introduction of species and flora from Europe, the symbology of the colony vascillated between the traditional emblems of the British, and the new native fauna and flora.

Our own Tasmanian home words by E. La Mont ; music by J.S. La Mont.
Publication Information: Hobart Town : J. Walch & Sons, [1859?]
Physical description: 1 score (6p.) ; 34 cm.
Format: musical score
Notes:”National song”–Cover.
“Composed and dedicated by permission to Lady Young …”–Cover.
For voice and piano. In: Music by Tasmanian composers, and; Songs : [binder’ title].
State Library of Tasmania

Thomas Nevin used a simple kangaroo in his design of a studio stamp for private clientele, printed here on the back of a portrait of a woman in clerical dress. The official animal icons used by the Tasmanian colonial government on all their documents, on the other hand, were the lion and unicorn of the British Royal Coat of Arms insignia. Those icons were also used by Thomas Nevin in the design of his official government contractor studio stamp (on right) which he printed on the versos of prisoner identification photographs (mugshots) for the Hobart Gaol administration; on the versos of landscapes and streetscapes taken for the Lands and Survey Dept; and on the verso of portraits of employees and families of the Hobart City Corporation.

Left: T. Nevin stamp used for private clientele 1870-76
Right: T. J. Nevin stamp used for official government contract commissions 1872-1878

A list of the prize winners was published by the Tasmanian News (9 Aug 1869, page 4), noting that the lighting in the Hall installed by the Gas Company was an excellent improvement over past events. As the Tasmanian Poultry Society continued to hold their annual exhibition at the Hobart Town Hall well into the into the 1880s, by 1878 when Thomas Nevin was employed full-time in the civil service as Hall and Office Keeper for the HCC, resident there with his young family, he would have become an old hand at overseeing all aspects of mounting such a popular show.

The unattributed photograph (below) – and there is only the one photographic image pasted twice to a stereoscopic mount, so it is not a true stereograph – is held at the State Library of Tasmania. It is clearly not the format of prize-card announced as Thomas Nevin’s for the 1869 poultry exhibition, but it may have been taken at one of the Tasmanian Poultry Society’s annual shows, as game, both live and dead, were for sale, and it does have a prize-card of sorts attached to the feet of the birds. This type of stereo mount was not commonly used by Thomas Nevin, nor was it ever his stereographic practice to use just one photograph instead of two slightly different captures of the same scene to create a stereograph. It is the probably one of many such pseudo-stereographs attributed to the amateur photographer and naturalist Morton Allport.

Title: [A shooters bag of several quail]
Publication Information: Hobart : s.n., [Between 1860 and 1870]
Physical description: 1 photograph (stereo) : b&w ; 7 x 12 cm.
Notes: Exact measurements 70 x 120 mm. Each individual half image 70 x 60 mm.
In: Allport album XIII – no. 46
Photographic print is in stereo but not a stereograph i.e. pasted onto cardboard album sheet and not mounted on a card for viewing.
Citation: Digitised item from: Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office

Tasmanian Rare Breeds Today
The Tasmanian Rare Breeds Poultry Club, established in 2006, presently lists over 60 breeds and variety of chicken, duck, turkey, goose and guinea fowl in risk, which they aim to preserve and promote. This is a sampling of their official list of Rare Breed Poultry in Tasmania:

Soft Feather Large:
Rare Breeds:
Croad Langshan
Faverolles …. etc

Waterfowl – Ducks:
Rare Breeds:
Abacot Ranger
Blue Swedish
Cayuga …. etc

Waterfowl – Geese:
Rare Breeds:
Australian Settlers (formerly Pilgrim Geese)
Toulouse …. etc

…. and the postcards offered for sale ….

Postcards at Tasmanian Rare Breeds Poultry Club,

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