Captain Edward Goldsmith and Charles Dickens’ well pump

After more than twenty years as master and commander of merchants vessels between London, Sydney, NSW and Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania), Captain Edward Goldsmith (1804-1869) retired to his ancestral estates at Chalk and the house at Gad’s Hill (variations eg. Gadshill, Gads Hill), Higham, Kent, UK. Within months of resuming residence at Gad’s Hill House in mid 1856 with his wife Elizabeth Goldsmith nee Day, and son Edward Goldsmith jnr,, he was the subject of a curious threat about the lack of water to the house of his new neighbour Charles Dickens down Telegraph Hill at 6 Gad’s Hill Place: “Goldsmith or I must fall, so I conceive”, Dickens avowed in a letter to Henry Austin on 6th June 1857. … More Captain Edward Goldsmith and Charles Dickens’ well pump

Captain Edward Goldsmith’s cargo ex London Docks per Rattler 1850

This voyage would be Captain Edward Goldsmith’s last round-trip as master of his fastest and finest barque, the Rattler, 522 tons, from London to the port of Hobart, Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania). The barque was cleared at the Western Dock, London on 3rd July 1850 and sat mid-stream in the Thames while lightermen loaded the cargo until ready to sail from the Downs by 22 August, 1850. Cabin passengers numbered seven, and four in steerage. They arrived at Hobart three and half months later, on 14th December 1850. The return voyage of the Rattler to London would commence on 19th March 1851, after three months at Hobart while Captain Goldsmith attended to his construction of the ferry Kangaroo and the development of a patent slip at his Domain shipyard. … More Captain Edward Goldsmith’s cargo ex London Docks per Rattler 1850

Captain Goldsmith, the Parrock Hall & playwright David Burn 1844

“A very fine day” was how journalist and playwright David Burn described Tuesday, November 5th 1844, in his diary (SLNSW Call No. B 190 / 2). He was watching the signals on Flagstaff Hill, Millers Point, for news of Captain Goldsmith’s arrival in Sydney Harbour. The Marryat flag for the Parrock Hall, No. 9376, signalled the barque as it sailed on towards Fotheringham’s Wharf “in the Cove” where it would remain until being cleared out for London on January 15th, 1845. … More Captain Goldsmith, the Parrock Hall & playwright David Burn 1844

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

A Christmas story: Captain Goldsmith, Charles Dickens and the Higham mail box

On January 18th, 2014, this weblog posted an article with reference to two of Charles Dickens’ letters complaining about his neighbour, retired master mariner Captain Edward Goldsmith at Gadshill, in the village of Higham, Kent (UK). The first letter dated 1857 concerned Captain Goldsmith’s monopoly of the water supply in the village, and the second dated 1859 concerned the location of the village mailbox outside Captain Goldsmith’s house. It took just a few months in 2014, from January when we first posted the reference to Captain Goldsmith and the Higham mailbox in Charles Dickens’ letters, to December 2014 when this now famous mailbox found restitution as a fully operational service of the Royal Mail. Perhaps we played a small part in bringing the mailbox back into service. Our generous Captain Goldsmith, without doubt, is the ancestor who keeps on giving. … More A Christmas story: Captain Goldsmith, Charles Dickens and the Higham mail box

Prisoner Henry CLABBY and the TMAG frame-up

The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery constructed four wooden-framed collages under glass from their collection of Thomas Nevin’s prisoner mugshots for an exhibition titled Mirror with a Memory at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, in 2000. Henry Clabby’s image was placed top row, centre in this frame. However, for reasons best described as blind-sided, the TMAG staff who chose these mugshots sent three of the four frames to Canberra, six per frame, with labels on the back of each wooden frame stating quite clearly that the photographs were attributed to A. H. Boyd, the much despised Commandant of the Port Arthur prison who was not a photographer by any definition of the term, nor an engineer despite any pretension on his part and especially despite the social pretensions of his descendants who began circulating the photographer attribution as a rumour in the 1980s to compensate no doubt for Boyd’s vile reputation.
More Prisoner Henry CLABBY and the TMAG frame-up

Thomas Nevin and Frederick Stops, right-hand man to the A-G

The verso of this photograph carries Thomas Nevin’s most common commercial studio stamp and the wording “This by W. J. T. Stops Esq.”which suggests that the photograph was presented to Frederick Stops by Nevin in 1868, perhaps as a gift to Emily Stops on the birth of their daughter, and was then passed down to his son W. J. T. Stops, who subsequently donated it to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery from the Stops estate or even from the University archives (Royal Society Collection) where more of Nevin’s photographs are held. It was then inscribed by an archivist on accession with the note – “This by W.J.T. Stops Esq” … More Thomas Nevin and Frederick Stops, right-hand man to the A-G

The barque “Harriet McGregor” 1870s

Inscribed on this glass plate taken with a stereo camera of a ship berthed at the New Wharf, Hobart – not the Old wharf – is the wording “Taken 4th Feb 1871” on the right hand side. Mirror-flip the image vertically, and wording becomes clear, the hand-writing identifiable, and therefore the photographer who took it. This is Thomas J. Nevin’s handwriting, examples of which are found on the versos of photographs, and on the birth registrations of his children 1872, 1876, 1878, 1880, 1884, and 1888. The only birth registration not signed by Nevin was of his son Thomas James Nevin jnr in 1874; it was signed by his father-in-law master mariner Captain James Day while Nevin was away on business at the Port Arthur prison. … More The barque “Harriet McGregor” 1870s

Thomas Nevin’s glass plates of prisoners 1870s

One example of excessive damage to the original glass plate is evident in this print taken from the negative of Nevin’s only sitting with prisoner Peter Killeen in the week preceding the 20th January, 1875, when Killeen was discharged from the Hobart Gaol. He was given a life sentence for assault and robbery in 1856, and when discharged in 1875 with a ticket-of-leave, he was 64 yrs old. He subsequently re-offended, was sentenced to a further 6 weeks and discharged again on 29 September 1875. Peter Killeen offended again within six months of discharge. He was given a sentence of seven (7) years for larceny at the Supreme Court Hobart on 8th March, 1876, sent to the Port Arthur prison, arriving there on 6th April, 1876, and transferred back to the Hobart Gaol on 17th April, 1877. Peter Killeen died from senile decay, aged 76 yrs, as a Prisoner of the Crown at the Hobart Gaol on 27th June, 1889. See originals of these records here.

The only image, whether extant as duplicates of the carte-de-visite or negative prints surviving from Peter Killeen’s criminal sentences is the one taken by Thomas Nevin at his single sitting with the prisoner in January 1875. The scratched condition of the glass plate by the time of Killeen’s death in 1889 at the Hobart Gaol is evidence of repeated use, the print showing even more wear and tear than the other 39 prints used by Beattie for the line-up of 40 on his three panels created in 1915. … More Thomas Nevin’s glass plates of prisoners 1870s

Prisoner Cornelius GLEESON 1873 and 1916

In 1915, commercial photographer, convictaria collector and private museum operator John Watt Beattie held government commissions to boost the tourism industry with photographs of Tasmania’s two key attractions: wilderness landscapes and convict heritage. When Beattie reprinted these mugshots taken by Nevin of prisoners who were incarcerated in the 1870s – sentencing, incarceration and discharge being the only reason the police required their photograph – he labelled them with the word not common to British Edwardian usage – “convicts” – to resonate with the narratives and cliches of Tasmania’s/Van Diemen’s Land penal history prior to 1853, thereby deliberately suppressing the very ordinary reality that these men were prisoners who had been sentenced in the 1870s and 1880s. Not only were they officially designated as “prisoners” for the police, by 1871 they were the responsibility of the colonial government of Tasmania, not the British government. Yet, by 1916, when Beattie had salvaged dozens of Thomas Nevin’s original glass plate negatives and mounted cartes-de-visite of prisoners from the Hobart Gaol’s photographers’ room above the women’s laundry before it was demolished, he was reprinting them as commercial studio portraits on postcards, some even as cartes-de-visite, and some as uncut prints, labelling them “Imperial convicts” who were “photographed at Port Arthur”, none of which was historically factual. … More Prisoner Cornelius GLEESON 1873 and 1916

Rogues Gallery: the QVMAG collection

These police mugshots taken by police and commercial photographer Thomas J. Nevin in the 1870s-80s at the Port Arthur prison, the Hobart Gaol (assisted by his brother Constable John Nevin) and the Hobart Municipal Police Office (Mayor’s Court, Hobart Town Hall) are held in the John Watt Beattie Collection at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, Tasmania. Most are Nevin’s originals and duplicates produced in mounted carte-de-visite format; some were reproduced from Nevin’s glass negatives by Beattie for sale and exhibition in Hobart at his museum and in Sydney at the Royal Hotel in conjunction with convictaria from the prison hulk Success (1916). An exhibition of these photographs by T. J. Nevin was held at the QVMAG in 1977. … More Rogues Gallery: the QVMAG collection

Calling the shots in colour 1864-1879

Understandable, it seems, that a commercially produced photograph in 1860s-1870s Tasmania would show some sort of colouring to enhance its decorative or sentimental appeal, especially if the narrative suggested by the photograph was the civilizing of Tasmanian Aborigines who were thought to be near extinction by the last few decades of the 19th century, and that the photographic studio renowned for bold artistic experimentations with colouring was Friths on Murray Street, Hobart. Less understandable is the hand-tinting of photographs of prisoners – or “Convict Portraits” as they became known – taken expressly for police use as gaol records, unless, of course, the photographic studio engaged for the purpose of providing those mugshots was operated by Thomas J. Nevin, on Elizabeth Street, Hobart. … More Calling the shots in colour 1864-1879

The firm of Nevin & Smith stamps and label 1867-1868

Robert Smith and Thomas Nevin established the firm of Nevin & Smith soon after Thomas Nevin acquired the stock, studio and glass house of Alfred Bock at 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town in 1865. The partnership was brief, lasting less than two years. It was dissolved by Nevin’s family solicitor, the Hon. W. R. Giblin, in February 1868. Two studio stamps and one label have survived from their brief partnership.

Robert Smith may have operated a studio prior to his partnership with Nevin, as Mrs Esther Mather referred briefly to the “coloured ones from Smith’s” in a letter to her step-son, dated October 1865. On Robert Smith’s departure to Victoria, where he took up farming and politics, Thomas Nevin pasted the verso of a few more photographs with the label bearing their name, but with Smith’s name struck through, and the word “Late”added. … More The firm of Nevin & Smith stamps and label 1867-1868

Thomas J. Nevin, informant for surveyor John Hurst’s son’s birth 1868

On the 11th April, 1868, Louisa Hurst, formerly Tatlow, gave birth to William Nevin Tatlow Hurst in the district of Hobart. The father’s occupation was listed as “surveyor”. Their son’s birth was registered on 22nd May, 1868 by photographer Thos Nevin, informant, Elizabeth St., where Nevin was operating from Alfred Bock’s former photographic studio at 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town. Neither parent of this child carried the surname “Nevin”. It was neither the mother’s maiden name nor the father’s middle name. Yet the child was given “Nevin” as a middle name along with his mother’s maiden name “Tatlow”. As a surveyor, the child’s father John Hurst was most likely absent from Hobart on business in May 1868, and requested Thomas Nevin to register his son’s birth at the Town Hall. This is the reason the name “Nevin” appears for the first time in the Hurst family of Tasmania, as a gesture towards to the family of John Nevin snr and his son Thomas J. Nevin, and for no other reason. … More Thomas J. Nevin, informant for surveyor John Hurst’s son’s birth 1868

Prisoner Mark JEFFREY, a Port Arthur flagellator

Mark Jeffrey (1825-1894) was called the “Port Arthur flagellator” by James Hunt, the man he was arraigned for wilfully murdering in February 1872 at the Supreme Court, Hobart. The verdict returned by the jury at the trial was manslaughter and the sentence was life. Mark Jeffrey may have been photographed at the Hobart Gaol while awaiting his sentence at this trial. Many of these “Supreme Court men” were photographed there by Thomas J. Nevin as early as February 1872.

However, the only known or extant prisoner identification photograph of Mark Jeffrey was taken five years later by Thomas J. Nevin in the first few days of Jeffrey’s relocation to the Hobart Gaol from the Port Arthur prison site in 1877. It was taken in the usual circumstances of gaol admission – a booking shot of the prisoner in street clothing – and reproduced from the negative in carte-de-visite format for pasting to the prisoner’s criminal record sheet. Duplicates were retained for the central Municipal Police Office registers at the Hobart Town Hall, and others were circulated to regional police stations.

The booking shot (below) of Mark Jeffrey, dated to 1877, has survived as a print from Nevin’s negative. It was salvaged from the photographer’s room and Sheriff’s Office at the Hobart Gaol by John Watt Beattie ca. 1900 and reproduced for display in Beattie’s convictaria museum in Hobart. Dozens of these negative prints of notorious criminals were reproduced by Beattie, plus two hundred or more in standard cdv format, which have survived from the donation of his collection to the QVMAG Launceston in 1930. This copy is held at the State Library of Tasmania … More Prisoner Mark JEFFREY, a Port Arthur flagellator

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

Captain Edward Goldsmith at the Royal Society Gardens

Master mariner and merchant trader Captain Edward Goldsmith (1804-1869) was a contemporary of Sir John Franklin who founded in 1839 the society which became in 1848 the first Royal Society for the advancement of science outside Britain. In the early years, the Society met at Lady Jane Franklin’s Museum which she had built on 400 acres of land acquired from Dr Hull at Kangaroo Valley (Tasmania) and named Ancanthe. By 1848, Captain Goldsmith had imported a wide variety of plants – many at his own expense – to provide the Royal Society’s Botanic gardens on the Queen’s Domain above his patent slip yard with the finest specimens from English nurseries.The Royal Society moved to permanent quarters at the Royal Museum in 1862, now the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery. … More Captain Edward Goldsmith at the Royal Society Gardens

Charles Dickens and Captain Goldsmith at Gad’s Hill 1857

“Wild legends are in circulation among the servants how that Captain Goldsmith on the knoll above–the skipper in that crow’s-nest of a house–has millions of gallons of water always flowing for him. Can he have damaged my well? Can we imitate him, and have our millions of gallons? Goldsmith or I must fall, so I conceive.”

Charles Dickens, Letter to Henry Austin, from Gad’s Hill, June 6th 1857 … More Charles Dickens and Captain Goldsmith at Gad’s Hill 1857

Paris Expo 1855: Captain Goldsmith’s blue gum plank

Elizabeth Nevin’s uncle, master mariner Captain Edward Goldsmith , departed Hobart Tasmania permanently in February 1856 but his entry of a blue gum plank (eucalyptus globulus) was shipped to France months prior, intended for the opening of the Paris Exposition on 15 May 1855, closing on 15 November 1855. Over five million people visited the exhibition which displayed products from 34 countries across 6 hectares (39 acres). … More Paris Expo 1855: Captain Goldsmith’s blue gum plank

Captain Edward Goldsmith and the wreck of the “James” 1830

One passenger who gave Captain Goldsmith endless trouble on the voyage was an Irish soldier, Captain Theophilius Ellis of the 1st Royal Infantry (Ireland) Regiment. Against advice from Lloyds’ underwriters not to board the James, he proceeded with his plan to accompany his sister and her nine children, and arranged with Captain Goldsmith to partition the vessel to house his sister, her family, and another Irishman, Captain Francis Whitfield. When the ship sailed, Ellis found that the separate section he had requested was filled with stores and luggage belonging to the ship, and the vessel so crowded with passengers – “the class of labourers” – 84 crew, pigs, geese, sheep and water casks, there was barely enough room to stand on deck. Ellis was versed in the law sufficient to invoke The Passenger Act of 1828, which was intended to enforce sanctions against ship owners who falsely advertised luxurious accommodation, and tyrannical masters who treated passengers with total disdain. His later report to the Colonial Secretary included these vivid details of the cabin space, the toilet, and Captain Edward Goldsmith’s methods of dealing with him: … More Captain Edward Goldsmith and the wreck of the “James” 1830

Tom and May Nevin at the Union Chapel flower show 1892

THE UNION CHAPEL
Samuel Clifford and partner Thomas Nevin produced this photograph as a stereograph of the Congregational Union Chapel in Bathurst Street Hobart not long after it was built by the Rev. J. W. Simmons in 1863. It was also known as “The Helping Hand Mission” . In 1892 the Congregational Union held a flower show at the Chapel to raise much needed funds for repairs to the building. Tom and May Nevin – the two eldest of Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin’s six children – entered chrysanthemums and flower arrangements as a contribution. … More Tom and May Nevin at the Union Chapel flower show 1892

Mr Lipscombe, Captain Goldsmith and the Mammoth Strawberry

MR LIPSCOMBE and CAPTAIN GOLDSMITH
Elizabeth Nevin’s uncle, Captain Edward Goldsmith, master mariner of merchant ships from London to the colony of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania)from the 1830s until his retirement back in Kent (UK) in 1856, and Hobart businessman and nurseryman Frederick Lipscombe, had maintained a friendly and profitable business relationship over twenty years until one day in June 1853, they had a very public falling-out over the Mammoth Strawberry, or so it seemed at first blush. … More Mr Lipscombe, Captain Goldsmith and the Mammoth Strawberry

Hector Axup’s donation to The Boys’ Home for a ship 1887

In the same issue of the Hobart newspaper, The Mercury, October 10, 1887, in which the “old boys” of the Royal Scots had placed an affectionate obituary to John Nevin (1808-1887), Thomas Nevin’s father, Hector Axup was mentioned in the following article. His donation to the Boys’ Home was enclosed in a letter expressing his regret that a training ship was not available. No doubt his wish was informed by knowledge of the Vernon, established in 1867 on Sydney Harbor as a reformatory industrial school for vagrant, destitute or juvenile offenders, which provided boys with moral training, nautical and industrial training and instruction, and elementary schooling. … More Hector Axup’s donation to The Boys’ Home for a ship 1887

Testimonial to Captain Edward Goldsmith 1849

-Upon receiving the cup, Capt. Goldsmith remarked that he would retain the token until death ; and, with reference to some observations made by Mr. Carter, intimated it was not improbable he should next year, by settling in Van Diemen’s Land with Mrs. Goldsmith, become a fellow-colonist.

-The goblet, which was manufactured by Mr. C. Jones, of Liverpool-street, bears the following inscription:-“Presented to Captain Goldsmith, of the ship Rattler, as a slight testimonial for having introduced many rare and valuable plants into Van Diemen’s Land. January, 1849.” The body has a surrounding circlet of vine leaves in relief. The inscription occupies the place of quarterings in a shield supported the emu and kangaroo in bas relief, surmounting a riband scroll with the Tasmanian motto-” Sic fortis Hobartia crevit.” The foot has a richly chased border of fruit and flowers. In the manufacture of this cup, for the first time in this colony, the inside has undergone the process of gilding. … More Testimonial to Captain Edward Goldsmith 1849

Queen’s Brian May & Elena Vidal on T.R. Williams’ stereography 1850s

T.R. Williams’ stereographs taken of scenes in an English village in the 1850s (“Scenes in Our Village”) have been reproduced by Brian May and Elena Vidal in a superb publication, “A Village Lost and Found” . The book comes in a slip case that includes a stereoscopic viewer invented by Brian May “which makes the magic happen”. … More Queen’s Brian May & Elena Vidal on T.R. Williams’ stereography 1850s

T.J. Nevin’s portraits of the McVilly children 1874

Laura (on left) and Richard (centre) were photographed by Thomas J. Nevin at his studio, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart, a week before Christmas, 18 December, 1874 (per date on verso). Both photographs are hand-tinted. The versos of these two photographs of Laura and Richard bear Nevin’s Royal Arms studio stamp used primarily to indicate photographs taken for the Municipal Police Office within the Hobart City Corporation, and at the Hobart Gaol. Their father, William Thomas McVilly was a constable and later clerk for the Lands and Works Department, HCC and Clerk of Papers, etc., of the Legislative Council in 1883. The unidentified toddler on the left may be a boy rather than a girl, another brother of Laura and Richard called Albert Francis, born 1873. The verso of his/her photograph bears Nevin’s most common commercial studio stamp, unlike the other two, and may have been taken earlier or later than 1874. … More T.J. Nevin’s portraits of the McVilly children 1874

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

Thomas FRANCIS was photographed by T. J. NEVIN on 6th February 1874

Thomas FRANCIS was discharged from Port Arthur, per the first notice in the police gazette dated 4th February, 1874. Note that no physical details were recorded on 4th February 1874 because he had not re-offended and photographed on discharge perregulations . A second notice appeared in the police gazette one week later, dated 6th February 1874, which included his age – 62 yrs, height – 5’5" – colour of hair – "brown" and distinguishing marks, eg. bullet mark on left leg, bayonet mark on thumb, scar on chin. These details were written and recorded when Thomas J. NEVIN photographed Thomas FRANCIS on that date – 6th February 1874 – at the Office of Inspector of Police, Hobart Town Hall. … More Thomas FRANCIS was photographed by T. J. NEVIN on 6th February 1874

Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery holdings

This Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery notice about their photographic collections appeared in November 2006. It is now September 2010, and the promised website with viewable databases of their vast photographic holdings is still not up and running. The TMAG holds a sizable collection of rare works by Thomas J. Nevin, including 1860s stereographs, studio portraits of private clientele, and mugshots of “convicts” taken in the 1870s. … More Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery holdings

From Thomas Bock to Thomas Nevin: Supreme Court prisoner portraits

Police artists worked in the Supreme Court of Tasmania from as early as 1824. An album of portraits of “prisoners taken in the dock” (Dunbar, QVMAG catalogue 1991:25) by Thomas Bock, the father of photographer Thomas Nevin’s close associate Alfred Bock, was on sale at the Sydney booksellers Angus and Robertson in 1910 when collector William Dixson bought it and bequeathed it eventually to the State Library of New South Wales. Alfred Bock also worked on commission as a police artist, producing sketches of prisoners in the dock. The earliest photographs to survive of prisoners taken at the Supreme Court and adjoining Hobart Gaol which were produced by Thomas J. Nevin date from his first contract issued in February 1872. … More From Thomas Bock to Thomas Nevin: Supreme Court prisoner portraits

The Supreme Court mugshots taken by T. J. Nevin from 1871 onwards

Who were they? They were T.J. Nevin’s sitters for police records, mostly “Supreme Court men” photographed on committal for trial at the Supreme Court adjoining the Hobart Gaol when they were isolated in silence for a month after sentencing. If sentenced for a long term at the Supreme Court Launceston, they were photographed, bathed, shaved and dressed on being received in Hobart. These procedures, past and present, were reported at length by a visitor to the Hobart Gaol and Supreme Court in The Mercury, 8th July 1882 … … More The Supreme Court mugshots taken by T. J. Nevin from 1871 onwards

Samuel Page’s Royal Mail coach

Samuel Page held the government contracts for the Royal Mail coach deliveries between Hobart and Launceston, and contracted Nevin for photographic advertisements of his coachline. Samuel Page lived at Belle Vue, New Town, a villa with stables, paddocks and gardens. He transported prisoners under government contract from regional stations and courts to be “received” at H.M. Gaol, Hobart, accompanied by constables. … More Samuel Page’s Royal Mail coach

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

Husbands and Wives NPG Exhibition 2010

An exhibition of early colonial portraits titled HUSBANDS and WIVES has recently opened at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra Australia. Apart from the usual collection of cartes-de-visite, there are several daguerreotypes and ambrotypes of individuals, couples and family groups on display, including the coloured ambrotype by Thomas Glaister, ca. 1858 (below, from the NPG online). … More Husbands and Wives NPG Exhibition 2010

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

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

Portraits of children gifted to Prince Alfred, Hobart, 1868

“on Saturday 18th January (the day fixed for his departure) on board the Galatea, to his Excellency the Governor, Mrs Gore Browne and Miss Gore Browne, Her Majesty’s Ministers, the Chairman of the Reception Committee, the Hon JM Wilson MLC, and Mr Tarleton and advantage was taken of this farewell interview to place in the Prince’s hands the album of photographs of Tasmanian scenery which had been prepared under the direction of the Reception Committee for presentation to him from the colonists as a memorial of his visit. The album contained eighty three photographs illustrative of the scenery of Tasmania forty eight portraits of children born in the colony and nine plates immediately connected with the Prince’s visit. The title page was drawn by Mr Alfred Randall and illustrated by Mr WC Piguenit. His Royal Highness was pleased to request that the Reception Committee would furnish him with duplicate copies of all the pictures for the illustration of a work which his Royal Highness is preparing in connection with his visit to the Australasian Colonies…” . So where is this album of photographs of Tasmanian children taken in 1868? … More Portraits of children gifted to Prince Alfred, Hobart, 1868

Poster boys 1991 of Tasmanian prisoners 1870s

Who were they? They were T. J. Nevin’s sitters for police records, mostly “Supreme Court men” photographed on committal for trial at the Supreme Court adjoining the Hobart Gaol when they were isolated in silence for a month after sentencing. If sentenced for a long term at the Supreme Court Launceston, they were photographed, bathed, shaved and dressed on being received in Hobart. These procedures, past and present, were reported at length by a visitor to the Hobart Gaol and Supreme Court in The Mercury, 8th July 1882: … More Poster boys 1991 of Tasmanian prisoners 1870s

On the road with Sam Clifford and Thomas Nevin 1874

Tasmanian professional photographers Thomas J. Nevin and Samuel Clifford were close friends and business partners from the 1860s until Samuel Clifford’s death in 1890. On this tour, they travelled on the main road north from Hobart to Launceston via Bothwell. In the final week of September 1874, while passing through Bothwell, 45 miles north of Hobart, they were enjoined to photograph the procession of Templars attending a large meeting. The Mercury reported their arrival in the town in a long account of the meeting, published on 26 September, 1874 … More On the road with Sam Clifford and Thomas Nevin 1874

A Zoological Curiosity at the Town Hall 1877

“A ZOOLOGICAL CURIOSITY. — Mr. Nevin, Town Hall keeper, yesterday brought to our office what Artemus Ward would undoubtedly have christened “an interesting little cus.” It is of the feline order, and has a perfect black coat. The head and body and voice are decidedly pussy’s; but there the relationship with that useful domestic animal ceases. The legs belong to the order of kangaroo rat, and it is quite amusing to see the little stranger perch himself up on his haunches, or drag himself slowly along by the aid of the fore part of the fore legs, which instead of being erect, as in the cat, falls flat on the ground, and so produces that roundness of the body which is the marked feature in the kangaroo… … More A Zoological Curiosity at the Town Hall 1877