Portraits and landscapes from T. J. Nevin’s cohort

A full-length carte-de-visite studio portrait of a young girl, possibly nine years old wearing a dark dress with a white collar and braiding along the sleeve, showing the lace of her bloomers at the hem against her bare legs. Spats cover her shoes. Her hair hangs loose in ringlets, and her gaze is slightly dropped and held steady to the viewer’s left. The studio decor includes an occasional table on wheels to the viewer’s right of frame on which sits a book, and a dining chair on the left on which the child rests her right arm. In her left hand she holds a thickly folded card. Charles Woolley’s signature technique was to produce prints in rich dark tones which made his portraits especially appealing. The verso bears Woolley’s “Advance Tasmania” studio stamp with emu and kangaroo animal iconography flanking the Tasmanian colonial insignia. His studio address for more than two decades was 42 Macquarie St. Hobart where he also ran a furniture business with his father. He must have supplied furniture, carpets and wall-hangings to all the Hobart photographic studios during the 1860s, and even sold items from his own studio when he ceased professional practice in the 1870s, because the same items appear in different photographers’ studio portraits. … More Portraits and landscapes from T. J. Nevin’s cohort

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

John Nevin senior’s land grant 1859 at Port Cygnet

In 1859, John Nevin snr was granted ten acres one rood and seventeen perches in the parish of Bedford on the Huon River near Cygnet, about 60 kms south west of Hobart, but it appears he never moved his family from Kangaroo Valley to take up permanent residence on the grant. He may have used the land, however, to cultivate orchards, grow vegetables, and make jam for export. In 1870 he exhibited marrows at the Industrial Bazaar at the Hobart Town Hall. In 1873 he presented an exhibit of peat to a meeting of the Royal Society of Tasmania, and in 1877, he exported jam on the Southern Cross to the colony of Victoria. The peat may have been extracted from Kangaroo Valley, known originally as Sassafras Gully in the 1840s, a valley rich with the type of flora that grows as ‘wet’ and/or mixed forest in Tasmania. In 1891, the Nevin orchards on the land grant at the Huon may have produced fruit in quantities large enough that John Nevin’s sons Thomas and Jack, may have attempted mechanised packing. Their application for a patent of their fruit packer was tabled by the Hobart Fruit Board in June 1891. … More John Nevin senior’s land grant 1859 at Port Cygnet

Prisoners William SEWELL and Ralph NEILL 1867-1874

Two soldiers of the 2nd battalion, H. M. 14th Regiment, William Sewell and Ralph Neill arrived at Hobart, Tasmania, in November 1866 from service in the New Zealand wars on board the military ship Siam. Within a year they were were charged with burglary of a hotel in Watchorn Street, and sentenced to 10 years at the Hobart Criminal Court. They served seven years, some of that time at the Port Arthur prison and were relocated to the Hobart Gaol, Campbell St. on 25th October 1873 when they were photographed by Thomas J. Nevin prior to release. They were discharged to freedom on 6th February 1874. … More Prisoners William SEWELL and Ralph NEILL 1867-1874

Prisoner Philip BURTON

This is one of two extant duplicate photographs in carte-de-visite format produced by Thomas Nevin from his original glass negative taken of prisoner Philip Burton in September 1873. This cdv was originally held in the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, acquired from John Watt Beattie’s estate in the 1930s. When the QVMAG typed out a list of their collection in the 1990s, it was numbered as “131” and shown as missing from their collection, along with 126 more (one hundred and twenty-seven in total missing from a list of 199). It was returned – not to the QVMAG but to the TMAG – after being exhibited at the Port Arthur heritage site in 1983. The recto number was applied by the QVMAG, but the verso number “290” was applied ca. 1915 when exhibited and offered for sale by John Watt Beattie at his museum in Hobart. … More Prisoner Philip BURTON

Prisoner James BRADY 1873-1874

James Brady was photographed at the Hobart Gaol by Thomas J. Nevin on two different occasions. Three extant images from those two sittings are held in three public collections, viz. the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, and the National Library of Australia. James Brady was a former soldier of the 2/14 Regiment, 31 years old, when he arrived in Tasmania on board the Haversham in 1868. … More Prisoner James BRADY 1873-1874

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

Nevin’s coal mine stereograph for Messrs Sims and Stops

Mr Nevin, photographer, Elizabeth-street, appears in this advertisement as an agent able to take orders for the delivery of coal from the Excelsior Coal Mine which was located on Mr Ebenezer Sims property at Kangaroo Bottom (Kangaroo Valley New Town), in close proximity to the home of Nevin’s parents. This coal was for domestic use but may have been included in the coal specimens which were exported to the Royal Colonial Institute, accompanied by James Boyd on board the Ethel in 1874. … More Nevin’s coal mine stereograph for Messrs Sims and Stops

The abbatoir and cattle yard stereograph ca.1870

The black and white print from another negative taken ca. 1872 of the same location from the same viewpoint with a telegraph pole (?) now evident in the centre of the image is correctly identified as the abbatoirs at Cattle Jetty, Queens Domain, owned and managed by the Hobart City Council. Thomas Nevin would have taken the original photograph a few years earlier under commission as government contractor for the Lands and Survey Dept. of the HCC, and supplied the Council with prints in various formats including a stereograph and unmounted cdv, with at least one photograph printed verso with the Royal Arms insignia of his official government contract stamp. The hand-coloured stereograph to survive bears no stamp verso, which suggests it was randomly saved from the HCC archives, or even studio rejects, and subsequently coloured by family members of a commercial client of Samuel Clifford’s (see stereo below) when reprinted from Nevin’s original sometime before 1878. … More The abbatoir and cattle yard stereograph ca.1870

Bridge over the Derwent at New Norfolk 1850s-1890s

An unusual photograph taken ca. 1868 by Thomas J. Nevin which combines a close-up portrait of a male adult seated extreme right foreground who hides his face as if to avoid recognition, with a background vista of New Norfolk (Tasmania) taken from across the River Derwent of the bridge and the substantial residence, Woodbridge, of Mr William Stanley Sharland (1801-1877), Assistant-Surveyor, pioneer hop grower, and Member of the House of Assembly. This photograph may have been an attempt by Nevin at a “selfie” in the loose mid-19th century sense of the term, or indeed it may be the figure of friend and colleague Samuel Clifford with whom Thomas Nevin travelled around Tasmania taking stereographs and portraits from the mid-1860s until Clifford’s retirement in 1878. … More Bridge over the Derwent at New Norfolk 1850s-1890s

Rogues Gallery: Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection

These cartes-de-visite of Tasmanian prisoners printed in an oval mount are held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart. They were originally held in the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, together with another three hundred or more 1870s mugshots taken at the Hobart Gaol by government contractor Thomas J. Nevin which were acquired by the QVMAG as part of the bequest from the estate of John Watt Beattie in the 1930s. When they were removed from Beattie’s collection and taken down to the Port Arthur prison heritage site for an exhibition as part of the Port Arthur Conservation Project in 1983, they were not returned to the QVMAG. They were deposited instead at the TMAG . … More Rogues Gallery: Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection

Thomas Nevin’s stereographs: TMAG Collection

These stereographs taken between 1865 and 1876 by professional photographer Thomas J. Nevin are held in the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery collection, Hobart. Some were taken as commercial photographs for private clientele, for example those which bear verso his New Town studio stamp and those which bear recto his blind stamp impress. At least two in this collection were taken ca. 1867-1868 in partnership with Robert Smith operating from Alfred Bock’s former studio at 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart as the firm “Nevin & Smith”. Others which bear Nevin’s government contractor stamp featuring the Royal Arms insignia were taken during his commissions with the Hobart City Council and Tasmanian colonial government. Several bear no photographer identification but are similar to others in terms of the pictured subject photographed several times around the same date, for example the group photographs of visitors to Adventure Bay, January 31st, 1872. … More Thomas Nevin’s stereographs: TMAG Collection

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

With Jean Porthouse GRAVES 1870s West Hobart

Two tall thin metal statues of a beggar and a harlequin flank the group on either side. Their significance and provenance is not known. Perhaps they were cast by a local sculptor for private decorative use, or they may have featured as props in a theatrical production, or even confiscated by Lukin Boyes at the Customs and Tariff Office. But it is the lion statue in the foreground which is the focal point of the image. It belonged to John Woodcock Graves’ family of Caldew, West Hobart. A later photograph taken of Jean Porthouse Graves ca. 1877 shows it placed near the doorway of the house. This stereograph taken by Thomas Nevin and the one immediately below it of members of the Graves, Miller and Boyes families were possibly taken on the same day, ca. 1870 and in the same location, at the back of Caldew when West Hobart was still a sparse “wilderness”. … More With Jean Porthouse GRAVES 1870s West Hobart

Prisoner William KELLOW 1872

This carte-de-visite of William Kellow, one of the extant hundreds of Tasmanian prisoners taken in the 1870s and printed in an oval mount, is held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart. It was originally held in the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, together with another three hundred or more 1870s mugshots taken at the Hobart Gaol by government contractor Thomas J. Nevin which were acquired by the QVMAG as part of the bequest from the estate of John Watt Beattie in the 1930s. When this cdv, along with 55 more now at the TMAG, were removed from Beattie’s collection and taken down to Port Arthur for an exhibition in 1983, it was not returned to the QVMAG. It was deposited instead at the TMAG . The QVMAG list (2005) showed a total of 199 mugshots, but only 72 were physically held at the QVMAG when the list was devised. A total of 127 mugshots were missing by 2005. This carte-de-visite of William KELLOW is one of those listed as missing, number 143. … More Prisoner William KELLOW 1872

Prisoner John POPE 1881

The verso gives no indication of the name of the prisoner, but from the inscribed details, this prisoner fits the physical description of John Pope, the ship on which he arrived in Tasmania, the sentence served of 2 years, and discharged free with conditions (FC). This photograph was not reprinted by John Watt Beattie from Nevin’s original negative, or from Nevin’s duplicates of his own cdv produced for gaol records from his single sitting with the prisoner. Its verso shows it was removed from paper, probably the prisoner’s criminal record sheet. Many of the later Hobart Gaol records books dating from the mid 1880s retain the prisoner’s mugshot(s) intact (held at the Archives Office Tasmania), but the earlier 1870s mugshots have survived mostly only as loose duplicates, so this loose carte is unusual in that respect. This photograph’s late date of production, 1881-83, is possibly one reason it appears to be an original prisoner identification photograph by Nevin, typical of his commercial posing and printing in an oval cdv mount. … More Prisoner John POPE 1881

Miscarriage of justice: the case of John MAYNE 1874

Thirty-three year old John Mayne was a Member of the Table Cape Road Trust when he was wrongfully convicted for rape in January 1874. A sentence of death was recorded which was remitted to 15 years. He was released 10 months later, in December 1874 after protracted protests in the press and several juror capitulations, the same jurors who had initially returned a verdict of guilty after two hours’ deliberation at the trial (13 January 1874), a case strongly defended by John Mayne’s barrister R. Byron Miller. Thomas Nevin photographed John Mayne on arrival at the Hobart Gaol from the Supreme Court, Launceston, in February 1874 before Mayne was sent to the Port Arthur prison, from where he was discharged as “Free.” The release was effected by barrister R. Byron Miller and Attorney-General W. R. Giblin, two key members of the legal fraternity along with John Woodcock Graves jnr, whose endorsement of Thomas J. Nevin as government contractor for the provision of prisoner identification photographs was effected in 1872 and extended through to the late 1880s. Thomas Nevin also provided portraits of these lawyers, including members of their respective families. … More Miscarriage of justice: the case of John MAYNE 1874

Elizabeth Bayley at Runnymede, New Town 1874-1875

Captain James Bayley’s first marriage to Emma Elizabeth Butchard, daughter of Captain Tom Butchard, on December 30th 1856 ended at her death ten years later, on 4th December 1866. She died of pulmonary consumption, aged 27 yrs at Battery Point. Witnesses at the marriage were his brother-in-law Alexander McGregor and his brother Charles Bayley. Her daughter Harriet Louisa Bayley, named after the Bayley brothers’ sister, was motherless at just 5 years old. Her widowed father took her to England and when they returned on the Harriet McGregor in 1872, he was accompanied by a prospective new wife and stepmother to Harriet, his distant relative Miss Elizabeth Bayley. … More Elizabeth Bayley at Runnymede, New Town 1874-1875

On board the Harriet McGregor 1871-1880

The woman holding a toddler in this image is sitting equidistant between the man seated at centre and the man on extreme right. Because of Sprod’s caption, and conventions of reading texts and images from left to right, taking up meaning from the reme (the last signifier along the reading plane), one would assume that she is the wife of the man at extreme right because of Sprod’s sequential wording and because both are gazing towards some person or event outside the frame, unlike the four other crew members who all faced the camera at the point of capture. Or so it would seem to the viewer of the print, but what if the negative was viewed from the obverse? The tenor of interpersonal relationships between the people in the image and its context would acquire new and possibly more historically accurate meanings. … More On board the Harriet McGregor 1871-1880

The Glenorchy Landslip 1872

Thomas Nevin was married and a first-time father by June 4th, 1872 when heavy rains and the great landslide at Glenorchy destroyed houses, farms, businesses and streets and tore boulders and vegetation from the slopes of Mount Wellington. He was living at his city studio, The City Photographic Establishment, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart with his wife Elizabeth Rachel Day and their new-born daughter May (Mary Florence) who was born just a fortnight earlier on the 19th May 1872 (she died to the day exactly 83 yrs later, on 4th June 1955). That Tuesday night of the great flood in Glenorchy, photographic stock at Nevin’s old studio in nearby New Town was probably saturated by the heavy rain, if water damage on some of his extant photographs taken a few months earlier in January 1872 at Adventure Bay, is any indication. But his anxieties would have been far greater concerning his parents living in the cottage his father had built at Kangaroo Valley on land above the Lady Franklin Museum, in the northern foothills of Mount Wellington. … More The Glenorchy Landslip 1872

Prisoner William RYAN wholesale forger at the TMAG

The Press described William Ryan as “respectably attired” in September 1870 at his appearance in court on charges of forgery. They also reported that he was someone who showed deep emotions when given sentence, and someone even prone to dissembling, fakery and over-acting. Care for his personal appearance was not attentuated by a prison sentence, it seems. When Thomas J. Nevin photographed Ryan for police and prison records at the Hobart Gaol during Ryan’s six years of incarceration, the resulting photograph showed a clean shaven, nicely groomed and neatly dressed man in a prisoner’s uniform, someone with a quiet and self-contained demeanour all round. … More Prisoner William RYAN wholesale forger at the TMAG

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

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

A supine “selfie” by Thomas J. Nevin 1870

‘Self-portrait’ shutters were not introduced until the early 1900s so this photograph, or indeed many taken in the 1860s-70s, cannot strictly be termed a “selfie”. The supine pose in these outdoor photographs of the period, of men in particular, was due partly to the size, the focal length, width and aperture of stereo lens types available and partly because a standing rather than reclining figure in the foreground deflects the eye from a distant focal point, which in this example was one carrying a salient message about Empire and Colonial stability, the new Government House (completed 1857). The invisible photographer was present in at least five extant photographs of Thomas J. Nevin in various poses and formats, held in family collections, and there may be several more in public collections waiting to be identified, such as this one first viewed at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, November 2014. … More A supine “selfie” by Thomas J. Nevin 1870

Thomas Nevin’s VIP commission 1872

Between 31st January and 2nd February 1872, Hobart photographer Thomas J. Nevin accompanied two parties of VIPs on boat trips down the Derwent River: to Adventure Bay at Bruny Island, and to Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula. On the 31st January he took a series of photographs of a party of “colonists” which included Sir John O’Shanassy, former Premier of Victoria, on their day trip to Adventure Bay on the eastern side of Bruny Island. They travelled on board The City of Hobart, commanded by Captain John Clinch. … More Thomas Nevin’s VIP commission 1872

Portraits of older women by Thomas Nevin 1870s

This collection of studio portraits taken by Thomas J. Nevin in the early 1870s of otherwise unidentified older women includes just one whose name is inscribed verso: Mrs Morrison. Who might she have been? A servant, a farmer, a post-mistress, some relation to Askin Morrison, ship owner, of Morrison Street, opposite Franklin Wharf, Hobart? Or Mrs Morrison, teacher of Kangaroo Point whose health had forced her to retire (Mercury, 6 December 1872). Perhaps she was Mrs Ellen Morrison, licensee of the Launceston Hotel, Brisbane St. on a visit south to Hobart? Whoever this sitter was, she appears to have worked hard all her life, no fuss or frills about it. … More Portraits of older women by Thomas Nevin 1870s

Nevin’s women clients and their dresses 1870s

Clients of early photographers were advised to wear clothing in strong patterns to distinguish the figure from the background in the final sepia print. This is a very small selection featuring unidentified women from dozens of Thomas J. Nevin’s commercial studio portraits dated from the early to mid 1870s. These clients differed in social status, as the cut and style and fabric of their dresses suggest, in addition to their jewellery and hair-dos, but they wore their finest day dress for the occasion. Some stared directly at the photographer, others gazed towards left or right of the frame. Most are young, but extant portraits of older women who seemed to favour his services also number in the dozens. Each of these cdvs shows variations in Nevin’s studio decor, his portraiture techniques, and printed frames. Some are also hand tinted. … More Nevin’s women clients and their dresses 1870s

Views and Portraits for the Lands & Survey Department

Thomas J. Nevin’s photographic commissions to provide documentary records for the Colonial Government’s Lands and Survey Department, date from the late 1860s (1868) while operating from his commercial studio at 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart. Nevin’s next commission from ca. February 1872 onwards was to provide prisoner identification photographs (mugshots) for the Prisons Department, Municipal Police Office, Hobart Town Hall and Hobart Gaol, which was also funded through the Hobart City Corporation’s Lands Department (Treasury). All of Nevin’s extant photographs bearing the Royal Arms insignia stamp were paid through his Lands Department contracts. Several prisoner photographs bearing this particular stamp were used to register joint copyright with the government (one sample per batch per year). Several extant portraits of HCC officials, their wives and children, all bear this Royal Arms insignia, for example, those of Constable William McVilly’s children, Laura and John. Thomas Nevin’s personal relationship with Lands Dept surveyor John Hurst, son of James Hurst who held the lease of the Salt Water Coal Mines on the Tasmanian Pensinsula until his death in 1876, extended to signing the birth registration of William Nevin Tatlow Hurst,John Hurst’s son, as informant at Hobart on 22nd May 1868. On the verso of the river scene below is inscribed the name of Alfred Pedder, son of Nevin’s colleague at the Municipal Police Office, Hobart Town Hall, Police Superintendent Frederick Pedder. Presumably, the cost for these portraits was funded jointly by the HCC and the families. Thomas Nevin was still being paid by the Lands Department in 1880 (Municipal Fund), by then receiving a full-time salary as a civil servant for the four years he served as Hall and Office Keeper of the Hobart Town Hall. … More Views and Portraits for the Lands & Survey Department

Tombstones copied, Terms: – Cheap!

How cheap was “cheap”? Three years previously, when Thomas Nevin was assistant in Alfred Bock’s studio at 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart before Bock’s departure and Nevin &Smith acquiring the business, he would have taken exception to the word “cheap” directed at Alfred Bock’s practice. The dispute about the ownership and copyright of the sennotype process between Henry Frith and Alfred Bock in 1864-1865 embittered both to the point of deciding to quit Tasmania. Frith’s rates for carte-de-visite portraits were expensive, two for 10/-, and his disdain for “cheap trash palmed off on the public as cheap photography” was loudly proclaimed in this advertisement in the Mercury of 6th April 1864. … More Tombstones copied, Terms: – Cheap!

A remarkable New Town studio stamp: Thomas Nevin+s

Untitled, and held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, this example by Thomas Nevin of a popular and much photographed vista of the Queen’s Orphan School and St John’s Church, New Town Tasmania, could be titled “Long shadow with guard at the entrance to St John’s Avenue, New Town“. Its uniqueness as an artefact is the very rare studio stamp on the verso.This is the only extant example (to date) of Thomas Nevin’s earliest photography which bears the design with the wording “Thomas Nevins New Town Tasmania” set against a ribbon in three flat loops, enfolding a flowering plant, and printed in bright blue ink. Nevin was barely out of his teens, still a bachelor, and living with his parents in the house built by his father John Nevin next to the Lady Franklin Museum at Kangaroo Valley (New Town, Hobart, Tasmania.) … More A remarkable New Town studio stamp: Thomas Nevin+s

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.

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

The concertina player 1860s

This untitled stereograph by Thomas J. Nevin, taken ca. 1868 of a group of 19 people sitting by a stream, including a woman holding a concertina, is held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Ref: Q1994.56.31. Photographed together with its blank verso on 10th November, 2014 at the TMAG (by this weblog), the stereo is one of a series, some bearing Nevin’s New Town stamp, some blank, originally attributed and sequenced by Specialist Collections librarian G. T. Stilwell at the State Library and Archives Office of Tasmania in the 1970s while preparing an exhibition of Nevin’s portraits of convicts (at the QVMAG with John McPhee 1977). … More The concertina player 1860s

Marcus Clarke and Thomas Nevin at the Old Bell Hotel 1870

Given that Thomas Nevin was partial to a drink, inebriation being the chief reason he was dismissed by the Police Committee from his position of Town Hall keeper in December 1880, the Old Bell Hotel was the closest public bar to his studio during the 1870s. Thomas Nevin was still alive in 1920 (d. 1923) when the hotel, known as the Old Bell, was delicensed, so he may have contributed to this story that Marcus Clarke drank there while writing his famous novel, published in 1870 after a visit to the derelict prison at Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula. … More Marcus Clarke and Thomas Nevin at the Old Bell Hotel 1870

The Trial of Joshua ANSON 1877

Joshua Anson did not take the two photographs of himself that were pasted to his criminal sheet, the first (on left) in 1877 when he was 23 yrs old, and the second (on right) in 1897 when he was 43 yrs old, nor did he photograph any of the other prisoners for gaol records while serving time at the Hobart Gaol. His abhorrence of the company of convicts was extreme, as his statement testifies. His 1877 prisoner mugshot was taken by Constable John Nevin in situ, and unmounted. Thomas Nevin may have printed another for the Municipal Police Office Registry at the Town Hall, Macquaries St. Hobart where he was the Hall and Office Keeper, but it is yet to be identified among the Tasmanian prisoner cdvs held in public collections. Joshua Anson was certainly the beneficiary of Thomas Nevin’s stock and commercial negatives when Samuel Clifford acquired them in 1876 and then sold them on to Joshua Anson and his brother Henry Anson in 1878. The Anson brothers reprinted Clifford & Nevin’s Port Arthur stereoscopes for their highly commercial album, published in 1890 as Port Arthur Past and Present without due acknowledgement to either Nevin or Clifford. … More The Trial of Joshua ANSON 1877