Contractors Thomas J. Nevin and “dog on the chain” James Spence 1872

Thomas Nevin had operated as a commercial photographer and government contractor since 1868, when W. R. Giblin acted on behalf of his interests in the dissolution of his partnership with Robert Smith advertised as the firm “Nevin & Smith” at 140 Elizabeth St.Hobart. In June 1872, for example, Nevin provided the Lands and Survey Department with a series of stereographs recording the damage caused by the Glenorchy landslip. As likely as not, he also provided lengthy witness reports to the officials at the Municipal Council, to reporters at the Mercury, and to Public Works Department contractors who regularly gathered at James Spence’s hotel The Royal Standard, next door to Nevin’s studio, 142 -140 upper Elizabeth St. Hobart Town (looking south from the corner of Patrick St.). As a contractor himself, he would have taken a keen interest in the meetings at which James Spence’s cohort of contractors’ aired their “grievances received at the hands of the Public Works Department”. … More Contractors Thomas J. Nevin and “dog on the chain” James Spence 1872

Thomas Nevin and Alfred Barrett Biggs 1872-1876

A rare pose, this photograph of Alfred Barrett Biggs, his head down contemplating his next move in a game of chess with his wife Harriet née Burville who observes the photographer almost obliquely under her lashes, was taken about the same time as the full-length portrait of Alfred’s mother Eliza Coleman Biggs. Harriet chose to wear a voluminous dress of  the sheerest ribbed silk, pin-tucked at the bodice and overlain with a transparent gauze shawl across her shoulders. The tall chess pieces were commonly made from ivory. … More Thomas Nevin and Alfred Barrett Biggs 1872-1876

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

Key dates in Thomas Nevin’s life

From the early 1860s Thomas Nevin operated a photographic studio at New Town with the business name of “Thomas Nevins”, i.e. the “s” signifying the possessive, as in “the studio of Thomas Nevin”. By 1865 he was assistant to photographer Alfred Bock whose residence and studio he leased from A. Biggs at 138-140 Elizabeth Street, Hobart Town on Alfred Bock’s departure for Victoria in 1867 (Hobart Town Gazettes 1870s). Nevin maintained the business name of the studio, The City Photographic Establishment, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town. With partner Robert Smith, they formed the firm Nevin & Smith, producing stereographic views and hand-tinted studio portraits (TMAG and Private Collections). The firm Nevin & Smith was commissioned to take an album of portraits of Tasmanian children in 1868 to be presented to the Duke of Edinburgh (State Library of Victoria Collection). However, the partnership was short-lived. Robert Smith moved to Goulburn, NSW and the firm known as Nevin & Smith was dissolved on 22nd February 1868, undersigned by Thomas Nevin’s solicitor, later Attorney-General, W.R. Giblin. Thomas Nevin continued with the business name, the City Photographic Establishment at the same address, and exhibited photographs of Melville St under snow (1868) and A Party at the Rocking Stone Mt Wellington (1870) at the Wellington Park Exhibitions (TMAG Collection). He also exhibited stereoscopic views, prize cards and cartes-de-visite at the Tasmanian Poultry Society’s annual exhibition at the Town Hall in August 1869 and the Town Hall Bazaar on 1st April, 1870 (Mercury Friday 1 Apr 1870 Page 2 ). For his work as the firm of Nevin & Smith, he was granted a colonial Royal Warrant, and for his work with the Lands and Survey Department of the colonial government, he was granted another colonial Royal warrant by authority. By 1870 Nevin was providing photographs of mining and reservoir works at the Huon and Cascades on government commission, as well as providing group portraits and landscapes for tourists to the Lady Franklin Museum and and John Franklin’s Tree at Kangaroo Valley, Hobart. … More Key dates in Thomas Nevin’s life