Weekly Returns, the police forms 1880s: no more ships’ names please

By 1880, officials at the Police Department were complaining about the extra work involved in listing the name of the prisoner’s ship on which he/she arrived in Tasmania, the height of the prisoner, and his or her associations etc on the Returns of Persons on Trial under the Petty Offences Act 21 Vic 12. Their reluctance to record this aspect of a prisoner’s past for cases tried at the Police Court was attributed to the time consumed while trying to resurrect the information from old records when the offenders were not known to the younger generation on staff. When the issue arose in correspondence (see below) between the Mayor and the Police Department in February and March 1880, photographer Thomas J. Nevin was both Hall Keeper and Office Keeper for the Mayor’s Court and the Municipal Police Office, each housed under the one roof at the Hobart Town Hall with cells in the basement. He too would have felt overworked in his position of supervising inebriated constables on night watch, of making sure the chimneys were swept, of preparing the Hall for exhibitions and concerts, of maintaining the grounds and watering the trees out front, and for keeping police photographic records taken by him at the MPO current with those taken at the Hobart Gaol, mostly with his brother Constable John Nevin. … More Weekly Returns, the police forms 1880s: no more ships’ names please

The photographer’s tent at Port Arthur: 1872 or 1874?

This stereograph of a tent pitched on the lawn in front of the Government Cottage, with one gentleman in a top hat standing at a short distance, facing a young girl and another gentleman in a top hat outside the tent’s entrance, bears traces of multiple printings in different formats. The darkened round corners of the print suggest it was printed first in a double oval or binocular stereoscopic mount, and reprinted with squared corners. The dress fashion of the men and girl suggests day trippers in their Sunday best rather than the work-a-day dress of prison officials or local employees. If Nevin had taken this photograph in April 1874, the tent listed on the government schooner’s way bill definitely belonged to him, because he was away at Port Arthur and not in Hobart when the birth of his son Thomas James Nevin jnr in April 1874 was registered by his father-in-law Captain James Day, the only birth registration of his children he did not personally sign… However, if Nevin photographed this group two years earlier, on 1st February 1872, the more likely date, the girl and bearded man standing in front of the tent could be identified as Jean Porthouse Graves, the man as barrister Byron Miller (her future father-in-law), and the clean-shaven man facing them, solicitor John Woodcock Graves, Jean’s father. … More The photographer’s tent at Port Arthur: 1872 or 1874?

Sideshow Alley: Thomas Nevin at the NPG exhibition 2015

The National Portrait Gallery (Australia) at Canberra is currently displaying this wooden frame containing ten “convict portraits” under glass at the exhibition, Sideshow Alley: Infamy, the macabre and the portrait, 4th December 2015 – 28th February 2016. The National Library of Australia has repeatedly chosen the same set of photographs from their collection of 85 Tasmanian prisoners’ mugshots (catalogued as “convicts”) for loan to the National Portrait Gallery because they are clean examples of the professional photographer’s use of the albumen process. Other examples in the NLA’s collection are damaged and dirty, and some are unmounted, e.g. Searle’s album. Most of the NLA’s collection is online, yet the versos of these photographs, which can provide researchers with valuable information. have not been digitised. The NLA believes that the absence of a photographer’s studio stamp on the versos – of police mugshots no less – is reason enough to engage in puerile political games of re-attribution, despite historical documentation, expert curatorial validation, and the presence of T. J. Nevin’s government contract stamp on several of these mugshots held in other national collections. … More Sideshow Alley: Thomas Nevin at the NPG exhibition 2015

Julia Clark must face up to academic fraud

Julia Clark must face charges of academic fraud sooner or later. She has thrown essays and articles in the face of librarians and museum workers since 2007, assuring them that her belief in the existence of a photographer attribution to Mr A. H. Boyd was hypothetically possible and so should be shared by them. So what proof has she found during the last ten years? This photograph of a prison building, which we documented at length on these blogs in 2009-2010 is all she has found in eight years since she first set her game in play. On the lower margin is a pencilled inscription in a modern hand scribbled onto an enlargement of a stereoscopic landscape view of the Port Arthur prison, taken in 1873 by Samuel Clifford and Thomas Nevin, reproduced by the Anson Brothers photographers in an album published in 1889, held at the State Library of NSW. The inscription is a fake, put there in 1984 at the instigation of Chris Long, the originator of the myth that A. H. Boyd was THE photographer of these Tasmanian prisoner mugshots instead of Nevin, the real photographer (or any other real photographer, for that matter, in Nevin’s cohort). … More Julia Clark must face up to academic fraud

Blame it on Beattie: the Parliamentarians photograph

Amateur photo-historian Chris Long was among the first to be targeted by A. H. Boyd’s descendants in 1984 with only their hearsay offered as proof, and together with co-editor Gillian Winter, assumed that there would be extant photographs by A. H. Boyd, if indeed he had photographed prisoners. Strangely enough, they found none. Gillian Winter found mention of THREE photographs of parliamentarian George William Keach, his wife and daughter, with a Boyd attribution in the Archives Office Tasmania. But those photographs were missing from the original Allport Album when she listed its contents. Those photographs were taken by Sydney photographer Thomas H. Boyd, loosely collated originally with other carte-de-visite items taken of Allport family members and their friends by photographers in Hobart, Melbourne, Brisbane, Rome and elsewhere … … More Blame it on Beattie: the Parliamentarians photograph

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

In late March, 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 March 1866, and again in August 1873, when Clifford himself visited the prison site. … More Photographers A. Bock, S. Clifford and T. Nevin at Port Arthur

Prisoner John NORMAN or MORRISON

This young locally-born (“native”) 19 year old John Morrison or John Norman was photographed on being received at the Hobart Gaol on February 16, 1884 by Constable John Nevin. The National Library has included the photograph among the collection of the earlier 1874 convict photographs taken by Thomas J. Nevin, and retained the prison location as Port Arthur despite the simple fact that in 1874 the prisoner would have been only 9 years old, and clearly he is not a child in his photograph. As for the place of imprisonment, he could not have been imprisoned to serve his 12 month sentence at the Port Arthur prison because it was well and truly closed by 1877, and by 1884 it was in ruins. … More Prisoner John NORMAN or MORRISON

Convict portraits by Thomas J. Nevin at the National Library of Australia

In June 2005, the National Library of Australia had digitised just 25 photographs of their collection of 84 prisoner identification cartes-de-visite of Tasmanian prisoners, titled “Convict portraits, Port Arhur,1874”, with the long-standing and correct attribution to commercial and police photographer Thomas J. Nevin. … More Convict portraits by Thomas J. Nevin at the National Library of Australia

Prisoner Robert aka James OGDEN, photographed by Nevin 1875

This photograph – a standard 1870s carte-de-visite prisoner identification photograph produced by Thomas J. Nevin – has escaped the attention of photo-historians of the 1870s Tasmanian prisoners’ identification photographs, the so-called “Port Arthur convict portraits 1874” labelled and catalogued as such in Australian national collections, viz. the National Library of Australia, Canberra, and the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston. It belongs to the same series of fine albumen prints of prisoners taken by commercial and police photographer Thomas J. Nevin for the Hobart Gaol and Hobart Municipal Police authorities from 1872- 1880. … More Prisoner Robert aka James OGDEN, photographed by Nevin 1875

The fruitless search of wadsley-1

This letter to the Editor is cited by someone called “wadsley-1” to justify a massive deception, to “prove” a lie about the Port Arthur accountant and commandant A.H. Boyd, who was known and despised as a bully and free-loader in his own lifetime, but never known as a photographer. So why has the National Library assigned his name to their collection of Tasmanian prisoner mugshots, a collection of 84 photographs originally and correctly attributed to Thomas J. Nevin? Personality politics, no more and no less. … More The fruitless search of wadsley-1

Samuel Clifford, Thomas Nevin and two cameras

DOUGLAS STEWART FINE BOOKS LTD HOBART BOOK FAIR was held on February 12 – 13, 2011 with three items on sale pertaining to Thomas J. Nevin’s commercial photography.
STEREOGRAPH of CLIFFORD’S CAMERA
The first was this stereograph attributed to Samuel Clifford but ostensibly showing Clifford’s camera. Who took the photograph? Did Clifford carry two cumbersome cameras with him into this dense bush setting at Brown’s River, or was he accompanied – as so often he was around Tasmania – by Nevin? If so, the stereograph deserves the double attribution of Clifford & Nevin, an inscription which appears on several items also held in private collections. … More Samuel Clifford, Thomas Nevin and two cameras

Prisoner John SULLIVAN, cook and thief 1875

Although catalogued as a “portrait” of a “Port Arthur convict”, it is simply a mugshot – one of thousands taken for the Municipal Police Office at the Hobart Gaol, the Supreme Court and MPO by professional photographer Thomas J. Nevin between 1872 and 1886. He took this photograph at the Hobart Gaol when John Sullivan was tried in the Supreme Court Hobart on 18th August 1875 on a charge of larceny and sentenced to incarceration at the Hobart Gaol for a period of twelve (12) months, … More Prisoner John SULLIVAN, cook and thief 1875

Edwin Barnard at the NLA with Nevin’s convict photographs

The interviewee Edwin Barnard in this ABC news report poses here as an expert on the Tasmanian convicts photographs taken and produced by commercial and police photographer Thomas J. NEVIN in the 1870s. Original duplicates of these same mugshots held at the NLA which were made by Thomas Nevin and his brother Constable John Nevin for the police are held in other public institutions (TMAG, QVMAG, AOT, State Library of Tas, SLNSW) and private collections. … More Edwin Barnard at the NLA with Nevin’s convict photographs

Aliases, Copies, and Misattribution

Cataloguists, librarians, archivists, students, photo historians and others in public service have made a real mess of storing and recording the accession history, numbering, and data collation on these Tasmanian prisoners’ identification photos: obliteration, reinvention, fads, guesses, fashions, and personal agendas have managed to obliterate valuable data and thus the traces of facts from their past. … More Aliases, Copies, and Misattribution

Julia Clark: A Question of Stupidity & the NLA

Thomas J. Nevin and descendants are apparently one of the more recent examples in a long line of Clark’s personal targets. See this article on her MO in Hobart museums by M. Anderson. Clark’s attack on the “Georgian splendour school of history” is deeply ironic, given that this Commandant A.H. Boyd she so firmly wants to promote as the prisoners’ photographer at Port Arthur was just that – a Georgian middle-class gent revelling in the spoils of his own corruption, a renowned bully reviled by the public in his own day. In Kay Daniel’s words, Clark’s analytical method is hypocritical – it’s “the view from the Commandant’s verandah school of history” – which she prescribes while pretending solidarity with her target, whether Aborigines or convicts. … More Julia Clark: A Question of Stupidity & the NLA

Thomas Nevin 1886: assistant bailiff to Inspector Dorsett

In early December 1880, Thomas Nevin was dismissed from the position of “Keeper” at the Hobart Town Hall for inebriation while on duty. The Mayor’s Committee expressed deep regret at the dismissal (reported in The Mercury December-January 1880-1881), and mindful of his growing family, the Council decided to retain his photographic services. He was re-assigned to civil service with warrant and photographic duties as assistant bailiff with The Municipal Police Office, located at the Hobart Town Hall. 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 1889, a service he had provided for the Prisons Department and MPO since 1872. … More Thomas Nevin 1886: assistant bailiff to Inspector Dorsett

Improprieties: A. H. Boyd and the Parasitic Attribution

The root of the notion that A.H. Boyd had any relationship with photography arose from this children’s story forwarded to the Crowther Collection at the State Library of Tasmania in 1942 by its author, Edith Hall. It was NEVER published, and exists only as a typed story, called “The Young Explorer.” Edith Hall claimed in an accompanying letter, dated 1942 and addressed to Dr Crowther that a man she calls the “Chief” in the story was her uncle A.H. Boyd, and that he was “always on the lookout for sitters”. Hopeful Chief! The imaginative Edith and her description of a room where the child protagonist was photographed (and rewarded for it) hardly accords with a set-up for police photography. The photographing of prisoners IS NOT mentioned in either the story or the letter by Edith Hall. In the context of the whole story, only three pages in length, the reference to photography is just another in a long list of imaginative fictions (many about clothes and servants) intended to give the child reader a “taste” of old Port Arthur, when both the author and her readers by 1942 were at a considerable remove in time. Boyd is not mentioned by name in the story, yet Reeder 1995 (after Long, 1995) and Clark (2010) actually cite this piece of fiction as if it contains statements of factual information. A.H. Boyd has never been documented in newspapers or validated in any government record of the day as either an amateur or official photographer. … More Improprieties: A. H. Boyd and the Parasitic Attribution

Prisoners Wm MEAGHER, Wm LEE and Chas ROSETTA 1870s

William Meaghers was transported to NSW in 1838 on board the Bengal Merchant. Originally from Dublin, he was court martialled in Quebec, Lower Canada on 26 September 1836. In Paramatta, NSW, he was sentenced to 14 years for housebreaking on 10 December 1842 and transported to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) on board the Sir J. Byng, arriving on 23 September 1843. He was married with two children. No date of birth appears on his arrival record, however, police records show he was 56 yrs old in 1871, so he was born ca. 1815, and was ca 59 years old in 1874 when Nevin photographed him. The NLA misattribution to Searle and the date of photographic capture catalogued as 1915 would mean that the prisoner William Meaghers, born in 1815, had to be a 100 year old man; clearly, the prisoner was photographed in his fifties on the occasion of his release, in 1874. … More Prisoners Wm MEAGHER, Wm LEE and Chas ROSETTA 1870s

Fraudulent  pretensions

This image of a building is not a vignetted carte-de-visite photograph of a man in prison clothing, yet the curator of photographs at the State Library of NSW, Alan Davies, is proposing it is sufficient evidence to warrant a claim that A.H. Boyd was a photographer, and to extend that claim to a proposition that Boyd was also the photographer of the “bulk” of the 300 extant prisoner cartes, despite all the available evidence of attribution to Thomas J. Nevin. As recently as August 2009, Alan Davies maintained that proposition, which is founded in the cliched equation “Tasmania + convicts=Port Arthur” … … More Fraudulent  pretensions

Two histories, one execution: Job SMITH & Emanuel BLORE

Job Smith aka Wm Campbell was photographed by Thomas Nevin either when Smith was one of sixty prisoners who had transferred back to the Hobart Gaol from Port Arthur before July 1873 (see W.R. Giblin’s and the Inspector of Police report of convicts tabled in the Parliament on July 17th, 1873), or just before Smith as William Campbell was returned to Port Arthur on May 8th, 1874 to complete his 8 year sentence, accompanied by Thomas Nevin in his role as police agent and photographer. Both were listed as passengers on the schooner Harriet’s way bill. … More Two histories, one execution: Job SMITH & Emanuel BLORE

Margaret Glover and the fabrication of photohistory

The true origins of the photographic misattribution to non-photographer and Port Arthur official A.H. Boyd of Thomas J. Nevin’s police mugshots of Tasmanian prisoners 1870s-1880s lies with a reference to the art historian Margaret Glover’s article “Some Port Arthur Experiments” (1979) by Chris Long and/or Warwick Reeder (1995).

In 1979, Margaret Glover published an article about Port Arthur titled Some Port Arthur Experiments (In: T.H.R.A. Papers and Proceedings, vol. 26 no. 4, Dec. 1979, pp. 132-143).

The article deals with plants and animals and steam engines and the tenure of Commandant James Boyd (during the years 1853-1871). No mention is made of his successor Commandant A.H. Boyd, no mention is made of prison photography, and no mention is made in this article of A.H. Boyd’s niece E.M. Hall, nor is her children’s story, “The Young Explorer” (1931/1942).
More Margaret Glover and the fabrication of photohistory

The QVMAG convict photos exhibition 1977

Most of these prisoner ID photographs were acquired by the QVMAG in 1927, as part of photographer John Watt Beattie’s (1859-1930) collection from his estate and convictaria museum in Hobart. Beattie’s sources in turn were the police gazettes and prisoner registers held at the Town Hall Municipal Police Office, where Nevin worked full-time 1876-1880, and from the Sheriff’s Office and Supreme Court at the Hobart Gaol where his brother Constable John Nevin was his assistant. Beattie had ready access as official government photographer ca. 1900s to these documents. … More The QVMAG convict photos exhibition 1977

“In a New Light”: NLA Exhibition with Boyd misattribution

In November 2000,the National Library of Australia reproduced 22 carte-de-visite vignettes from their holdings of 78 [84] of Thomas Nevin’s Tasmanian prisoner ID photographs, for the purpose of mounting an exhibition called IN A NEW LIGHT: A Love of Order. The exhibition in summary form is still online. Above: In A New Light: A Love … More “In a New Light”: NLA Exhibition with Boyd misattribution

About those photographic glasses 1873 …

A. H. Boyd had no reputation in his own lifetime as a photographer, none subsequently, and no works by him are extant, yet he suddenly entered photo history as an “artist” in 1995 due largely to a sentence in a children’s fictional tale, and a cargo list. Thomas J. Nevin, well-known within his lifetime as a contractual commercial photographer, civil servant, and special constable with the Municipal and Territorial Police, and with a sizeable legacy dating from the 1860s held in State, National and private collections, was effectively dismissed as a “copyist” by Chris Long. Authoritative commentators who were aware of the problem ensured Chris Long was named as someone in error on this matter when Nevin’s biographical details were published in 1992 ( Willis, Kerr, Stilwell, Neville, etc). … More About those photographic glasses 1873 …

Working with police and prisoners

The last document (to date) of Thomas Nevin’s direct involvement with government legislation pertaining to police administration was signed as a resolution on the occasion of a bill to be introduced in the House of Assembly to effectively centralise the various municipal and territorial forces. The meeting he attended and its resolutions, which was chaired by His Worship the Mayor Alderman Crouch, was reported in The Mercury, 19 July 1888. Thomas Nevin’s recorded comment was:

“Mr. Thos Nevin was under the impression that the police should be under stricter supervision.” … More Working with police and prisoners

Prisoners Micheal GILMORE and James KILPATRICK

The information about Gilmore’s criminal activities from the police gazettes, called Tasmania Reports of Crime Information for Police, James Barnard, Gov’t Printer, is easily obtainable, so why was nothing but basic transportation records about this prisoner, Michael Gilmore (and the second man with a similar name) included in the National Library of Australia’s publication of their Tasmanian “convict portraits”, titled Exiled, The Port Arthur Convict Photographs (NLA 2011)? … More Prisoners Micheal GILMORE and James KILPATRICK

Convict cartes by Thomas Nevin at the new NPG Canberra

Currently displayed in the A and S Liangis Gallery are six identification carte-de-visite photographs of Tasmanian convicts borrowed from the National Library of Australia with the correct attribution to the commercial and police photographer Thomas J. Nevin (1842-1923) , and incorrect attribution to A. H. Boyd who was not a photographer, was not known as a photographer in his lifetime, and has no extant works in any public or private collection. … More Convict cartes by Thomas Nevin at the new NPG Canberra

Heads of the People exhibition  NPG Canberra 2000

These three frames of 40 photographs in total were included in the exhibition Heads of the People, held at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, June to October, 2000, with a doubly erroneous attribution. Beattie’s name appears as the source, giving the impression that these are indeed HIS photographs, and that they were re-created by him “after” an earlier source, Adolarious Humphrey Boyd, the accountant and Commandant at the Port Arthur site from 1871-1873. Thomas J. Nevin was the original photographer of these 40 prints sourced from the QVMAG and exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, 2000. … More Heads of the People exhibition  NPG Canberra 2000

Laterality: the poses in Nevin’s portraits

The National Library of Australia holds a collection of carte-de-visite photographs of Tasmanian convicts, taken originally by professional photographer Thomas J. Nevin in the 1870s-1880s of men at trial in  the Supreme Court and adjoining Hobart Gaol, and of men released with conditions at the Town Hall Municipal Police Office. Of the eighty-two (82) images … More Laterality: the poses in Nevin’s portraits

The A.H. Boyd misattribution at DAAO

The DAAO specifically states at this URL – http://www.daao.org.au/intro/about.html – that a person eligible for inclusion should meet these criteria:

Who classifies as an Australian Artist?
An Australian artist is defined as a person, living or dead, who:
— has a body of artistic work
— considers themselves to be an artist
— is considered by others to be an artist
— is a resident or citizen or is known as an Australian.

A.H. Boyd was NOT a photographer, NOT an Australian artist, NOT considered by himself or by others in his lifetime or subsequently to be classified as one, so WHY is the entry here in the DAAO? … More The A.H. Boyd misattribution at DAAO

National Library of Australia’s convict portraits

Many of these convict cartes held at the NLA are duplicates of the same images held at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, and the Archives Office of Tasmania. This simple fact underscores the extensive copying which has taken place since the mid 20th century, principally from the QVMAG collection: 1958, 1977, 1982, 1985, 1987 and most recently for a digital database. Although the Nevin brothers photographed more than 3000 prisoners, the bulk has been lost, destroyed or sold at private auction. The remaining 300 or so were selected or salvaged by Beattie ca. 1916 to sell to tourists; he selected only those prisoners whose sentences were severe enough to warrant a criminal sitting in the Supreme Court: the offender’s apparent notoreity was the selling point. In this respect, the are not a random selection, nor a series. But they were not salvaged because they were an archive held at Port Arthur; they were never held at Port Arthur, nor taken there. Nevin photographed the prisoner once as a single capture in Hobart, produced prints from his original glass negatives at his city studio and later at studios in the Gaol and MPO, and made at least four duplicates from his glass negative for circulation to other prisons and police in regional Tasmania, in addition to the copies needed to paste onto warrants, prisoner records sheets, and the central register held at the Hobart Town Hall. … More National Library of Australia’s convict portraits

Elizabeth Nevin’s souvenir cruet of the Model Prison

This piece of souvenir ware was Made in Germany, and was either “57” in a series or made at a coded location, according to the mark on the bottom of the large bowl bearing an image on the front of what claims to represent the ruins of the Model Prison at the Port Arthur penitentiary, Tasman Peninsula, Tasmania. … More Elizabeth Nevin’s souvenir cruet of the Model Prison

Mirror with a Memory Exhibition, National  Portrait Gallery 2000

A new National Portrait Gallery of Australia is under construction in Canberra. No doubt the new spaces will display photographic portraits of convicts transported to Australia, as part of the country’s rich history of migration. How will the National Portrait Gallery handle issues of attribution? Will the contradictions of the exhibition Mirror with a Memory … More Mirror with a Memory Exhibition, National  Portrait Gallery 2000

Two histories, two inscriptions: Tasmanian prisoners 1874

Thomas Nevin would have carried at least two copies on his person of the prisoner’s photograph, one loose and one pasted to the prisoner’s record sheet, in the event of attempted escape in transit. Other copies remained at the Office of Inspector of Police, Town Hall, Hobart. Dr Coverdale, the Surgeon-Commandant at Port Arthur who had replaced A.H. Boyd by January 1874 deemed this procedure sufficient for security as a dozen or so prisoners were evacuated every week back to Hobart by schooner as soon as he assumed office. Clearly, Dr Coverdale’s predecessor A. H. Boyd had nothing to do with this photograph of Job Smith, nor indeed with any other of these 1870s prisoner mugshots for the simple and very obvious facts that (a) Boyd was not a photographer and no photographs in any genre supposedly taken by him have been found extant nor ever will be found unless they have been faked, as for example, the image of the Port Arthur prison printed by the Anson Bros in 1889 (Kerr, Stilwell 1992); and (b) the commission awarded to Thomas Nevin to photograph prisoners was given in 1872 by the Attorney-General W. R. Giblin after the visit by senior prison official and politicians from Victoria to the Port Arthur prison. Just one image, reprinted many times, of Job Smith aka William Campbell is extant. Thomas Nevin photographed him once and once only, although at least three duplicates and copies are currently extant in State and National collections. … More Two histories, two inscriptions: Tasmanian prisoners 1874