A Christmas story: 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: the Higham mail box

The Anson Bros photograph of ex-convict James CRONIN

This is the only extant image of former convict James Cronin (1824-1885). It was either reprinted from an earlier photograph, or it was taken by the Anson brothers, photographers, as a portrait in their studios in the 1880s, i.e. it was therefore a privately commissioned portrait, and this is evident from both the street clothes, the pose of the sitter, and of course, his age (late 50’s). It is not a police photograph, ie. a mugshot pasted to a criminal record sheet, unlike those taken by Thomas Nevin for the express use of police authorities, because James Cronin was not an habitual offender, at least, he was never convicted and sentenced under his own name in the decades 1860s-1880s or up to his death in 1885 at the Cascades Hospital for the Insane, Hobart. The Tasmanian Police Gazettes of those decades registered no offence for James Cronin, nor even an inquest when he died of pulmonary apoplexy on July 16, 1885. … More The Anson Bros photograph of ex-convict James CRONIN

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

John Watt Beattie and the Nevin family legacy

The friendship between these two photographers, Thomas J. Nevin and John Watt Beattie extended back to 1887 on the death of Thomas Nevin’s father, John Nevin at the family house and farm adjacent to the Lady Franklin Museum at Kangaroo Valley (renamed Lenah Valley in 1922). It had long been a wish of John Nevin that the Franklin Museum be restored to its original purpose when first built on Jane Franklin’s land, named Ancanthe, as a library and botanical museum, but by 1887, it was little more than a storage shed for local orchardists and farmers. As a gesture towards reviving John Nevin’s wish, before his own death in 1930, John Watt Beattie approached the Hobart City Corporation with a proposal to house his vast convictaria collection in the Lady Franklin Museum at Kangaroo Valley (Lenah Valley) but the HCC declined. … More John Watt Beattie and the Nevin family legacy

John Nevin in the Royal Scots at the Canadian Rebellion 1837-38

MOTTO of the ROYAL SCOTS
“Nemo me impune Lacessit”. “No-one touches me with impunity” (or “Dinna mess wi’ me!”)

While research into the life and times of photographer Thomas J. Nevin (1842-1923) in Tasmania has uncovered many fascinating aspects of Australian colonial history, the life and times of his father John Nevin (1808-1887) opens up many more vistas on key world events. Here are details of his service with the Royal Scots 1st Regiment in Canada. … More John Nevin in the Royal Scots at the Canadian Rebellion 1837-38

Dry plate photography 1860s

Published in London, The Photographic News contained a wealth of news and technical information about processes and equipment. The volume spans a year in the development of dry-plate photography, solar photography, photolithography, glass house construction and a thousand other items of interest in advanced photophysics and photochemistry. Alfred Bock and Thomas Nevin had reconstructed Bock’s glass house at their studio, The City Photographic Establishment, 140 Elizabeth-street, Hobart Town, by 1865, and produced some extraordinary solar photographs. Samuel Clifford, also a partner of Thomas Nevin, applied information from such a source to produce his much praised dry plate photographs using Russell’s Tannin Process, which were exhibited at the Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition in 1866. … More Dry plate photography 1860s