Thomas Nevin’s photographs mounted on calico 1870s

CLOTH MOUNTS and blank versos
PANORAMAS and albums made to order
PRISONER MUGSHOTS on parchment, cloth and paper

On Wednesday, July 20th, 1870, the Tasmanian Times informed readers that Thomas Nevin’s panorama of Hobart was on view at their offices, 10 Elizabeth Street, Hobart, and that copies mounted on calico could be obtained for delivery by mail.

The panorama noted by the Tasmanian Times may have been one of several taken from Lime Kiln Hill, West Hobart, such as this one which looks down Harrington Street to the River Derwent – Hobart from Lime Kiln Hill. Panorama no. 2, or its companion, a sweeping view from the same vantage point across to Trinity Hill – Hobart from Lime Kiln Hill. Panorama no. 1.

Carte de visite – Hobart from Lime Kiln Hill. Panorama no. 2.
Item Number: LPIC147/3/169
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania

These views were reproduced for sale in various formats: as a carte-de-visite, as a stereograph, or as a fold- out triptych.

State Library of Tasmania
“Hobart Town from Lime Kiln Hill Panorama 1 and 2”
Refs: AUTAS001124074956W800 (Panorama 1)& AUTAS001124074964W800 (Panorama 2).

State Library of Tasmania
Title: Hobart Town from Lime Kiln Hill
Photographer unknown.
Image size 93 x 507 mm.
Publisher: [ca. 1873]
W.L. Crowther Library

Source: State Library of NSW
TITLE: [New Zealand, Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney / from an album of photographs with the inscription] “Colonel Trevor, 14th Regiment, November 10th, 1869”
IE NUMBER: IE3197955
FILE TITLE: 21. Hobart town, Tasmania

Source: State Library of NSW
TITLE: [New Zealand, Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney / from an album of photographs with the inscription] “Colonel Trevor, 14th Regiment, November 10th, 1869”
IE NUMBER: IE3197955
FILE TITLE: 22. Hobart town, Tasmania

Mounted on calico


PANORAMA OF HOBART TOWN – MR. T. J. Nevin, photographer pf Elizabeth-street, has taken a very successful panoramic view of Hobart Town. A copy is now on view in our office. Mr. Nevin has some copies mounted on calico for the purpose of being forwarded by post.

Source: The Tasmanian Times (Hobart Town, Tas. : 1867 – 1870) Wed 20 Jul 1870 Page 2 TELEGRAPHIC DESPATCHES.

Dozens of extant photographs by Thomas Nevin that carry no studio stamp on verso were deliberately kept blank because they were mounted on calico, and delivered by mail to the purchaser with the expectation that they would either be placed intact inside a wooden frame, to be hung on the wall; or indeed, removed from the calico to be placed on an album leaf. A few albums with photographs still attached to the cloth mounts have survived (e.g. British collections).

Thomas Nevin used calico mounts as a means of saving on costs when posting through the mail. Dozens of his extant photographs with blank versos held in public and private collections bear traces of removal from woven fabric or parchment. Handwritten inscriptions, in many instances, were added subsequently by the client, collector or archivist.

The absence of the photographer’s stamp is the usual cause of a wrong attribution. In Thomas Nevin’s case, dozens of his photographs in State Library and Museum collections have been subsumed in albums featuring the work of his more widely known contemporaries and collaborators, Morton Allport, Alfred Abbott, Alfred Bock, Samuel Clifford and Henry Hall Baily. Archivists at the State Library of Tasmania, for example, have collated Thomas Nevin’s unmarked cdvs and stereographs into albums known as The Clifford Album, or the Allport Album, on the assumption that they bear enough similarities to the work of those photographers, when often identical photographs are extant in other public or private collections bearing the stamp of Thomas Nevin’s studio. This compilation of an album titled Tasmanian Views which included Nevin’s panoramas from Lime Kiln Hill was prepared by Samuel Clifford for the May family. The same views from Lime Kiln Hill, collected by Colonel Trevor as single cdvs (see above) are held at the State Library of NSW.

Album: Tasmanian Scenes, S. Clifford Photographer ca. 1868
Compilation album owned by the May family
Archives Office Tasmania, Libraries Tasmania Ref: C12/612 Ex. Bib. Crowther
These two views of Hobart from Lime Kiln Hill were commercial staples
Many of the photographs reproduced in this album were taken by Thomas J. Nevin, 1860s-1870s.
Photos copyright © KLW NFC 2011 taken at the State Library of Tasmania.

A privately held album containing the same Hobart panoramas from Lime Kiln Hill, as well as identical views of the Salmon Ponds and the Derwent at Plenty by Thomas Nevin and Samuel Clifford respectively, were offered for sale at Douglas Stewart Fine Books online with this note:

Several variants of Samuel Clifford’s commercially produced Tasmanian scenes photograph albums are recorded in Australian collections (five in Tasmanian collections and one in the State Library of New South Wales). Four of these recorded albums contain only 12 prints; one holds 24 prints; and the largest has 144 prints. There appears to be so much variety in the content of these albums that it appears likely that they were made to order, with the prints being selected by the client and mounted within Clifford’s ready-made bindings, making each album unique.

Panoramas and stereographs with no studio stamp
Since these examples (below) of Thomas Nevin’s photographs have blank versos, they may have been among those which he mounted on cloth and posted to the client or purchaser. His practice was to print one version with an impress on recto or a stamp on verso, as well as a copy or copies without studio markings, and a third with small variations of the same vista or studio portrait taken in the same session, to be collected in person from his studio or from the newspaper offices of the Tasmanian Times (until 1870) and the Mercury, (1871 onwards).

Stereograph on arched buff mount of the Abbatoir, Queen’s Domain, Hobart
Photographer; Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1870 for the HCC, Lands and Survey Dept
Unstamped, and hand-coloured possibly by family members of a commercial client.
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection
TMAG Ref: Q1994.56.25. Verso is blank.

Group portrait of two male adults, one boy and three girls, members of the Graves, Miller and Boyes family taken by Thomas Nevin ca. 1870 at Caldew, West Hobart.
Stereograph in arched mount on yellow card
TMAG Ref: Q16826.10, Verso blank.

A group at the Rocking Stone, Mt. Wellington.
Stereograph on buff mount
Thomas J. Nevin late 1860s
TMAG Ref: Q1994.56.4. Verso blank.

The young woman wearing a striped dress with white cuffs who is leaning with her left elbow against the rock in the stereo image (above) posed for a more intimate full frontal portrait in Thomas Nevin’s studio, per this cdv. The details of her dress are clearly visible:

Above: A hand coloured vignetted cdv of a seated woman facing the photographer and holding a posy of flowers tinted yellow. The verso bears Thomas Nevin’s most common commercial studio stamp “T. Nevin late A. Bock” etc and dates to ca. 1871-1874.

Tasmanian prisoner mugshots aka “convict portraits”
All of Thomas Nevin’s photographs of Tasmanian prisoners (catalogued as “convict portraits” in public collections) were originally printed from his negative in two formats: they were either uncut and mounted directly onto the prisoner’s rap sheet, or they were pasted into oval mounts. These too were often pasted onto the prisoner’s rap sheet. A few were stamped verso (one in one hundred) with T. J. Nevin’s government contractor stamp (bearing the Royal Arms insignia) for the purposes of renewal of his commission (1872-1886). Many were removed from the Hobart Gaol raps sheets by Beattie et al in the early 1900s for display in his convictaria museum. located in Hobart, and for inclusion in travelling exhibitions associated with the fake convict hulk Success. This mugshot of Cornelius Gleeson, along with 39 other uncut photographs in three frames was listed in Beattie’s Port Arthur Museum Catalogue (1916), as item no.69:

Detail: Cornelius Gleeson, bottom row, last on viewer’s right on panel
Fourteen reprints of 1870s Tasmania prisoners
Original negatives by T. J. Nevin 1870s
Reprints by J. W. Beattie ca. 1915
QVMAG Collection: Ref : 1983_p_0163-0176

Police photograph (mounted cdv) of prisoner Cornelius Gleeson
Taken by T. J. Nevin, December 1873, Hobart Gaol
TMAG Collection Ref: Q15602.1

Verso with traces of mounting on paper or cloth and archivist inscription:
Prisoner Cornelius Gleeson
Taken by T. J. Nevin, December 1873, Hobart Gaol
TMAG Collection Ref: Q15602.1

Unlike many of these prisoner mugshots held in public collections, this one of Cornelius Gleeson has no information transcribed verso of the ship on which he was transported to Tasmania, although the police gazette notices of his various arrests and discharges document it as the Lady Montagu (arrived VDL 9 December 1852).The other phrase added to this, and to hundreds of other versos of these 1870s photographs in public collections, is “Taken at Port Arthur 1874“. It is an error which does not reflect the criminal history of the prisoner on the date, place and occasion for which the photograph was taken. Cornelius Gleeson was photographed on incarceration at the Hobart Gaol in the last week of December 1873 by Thomas J. Nevin on commission, and photographed again on release from an eight year sentence, remitted to six in 1879. The verso shows traces of removal from thick woven paper or from a cloth mount.

This example bears Nevin’s one and only photograph of prisoner Allan Williamson pasted to parchment.

Prisoner Allan Williamson
Criminal record on parchment with mugshot
Penitentiary Chapel Historic Site, Hobart
Just one photograph is extant of Allan Williamson, reprinted at least twice
Photographed by Thomas Nevin at the Hobart Gaol 3rd January 1874

This document is held on display at the Penitentiary Chapel Historic Site, Hobart, next to the now demolished Hobart Gaol in Campbell St.. It is a complete prison record on parchment of Allan Matthew Williamson, per the ship Maria Somes (2), from his arrival in Van Diemen’s Land in 1850 right up to his death in 1893. Williamson’s photograph was pasted onto the parchment at the centre of the document, which was folded back on each side, rotated, and used for documenting Williamson’s criminal career for more than forty years. The photograph above of Williamson was taken by Thomas Nevin at the Hobart Gaol on 3rd January, 1874. The second extant Hobart Gaol record shows a space where the photograph was removed.

Allan Williamson’s mugshot removed: TAHO Hobart Gaol Records: Ref: GD6719, page 194.

[Above] Allan Williamson’s prison record sheet dated 14th April, 1888 minus the police identification mugshot which was removed, perhaps applied to the parchment record above. It may have been reprinted from Nevin’s negative, since just one single image is extant of Williamson, and this one below is not sepia-toned as was the parchment original when printed. This second print was pasted to the later record (below) with full criminal history, dates ranging from 1850 to his death in 1893.

Prisoner Allan Williamson’s rap sheet and mugshot 1850-1893
TAHO Ref: TH-1961-46919-1384-3
Just one photograph is extant of Allan Williamson, reprinted at least twice
Photographed by Thomas Nevin at the Hobart Gaol, 3rd January 1874

[Above] A note at the top of the middle column on the page above refers to the page with the missing mugshot, p. 194: “For Photo see Photo Book No. 2 p.194“. The photograph attached this sheet was removed from the page dated 1888, or even reprinted, and pasted to the record above, dated to 1893, the year Williamson died.

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