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!
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
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
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 Goulburn, NSW, where he opened a small photographic studio before taking 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 Photographers Thomas Nevin and Robert Smith, Hobart Tasmania, 1867-1868
This studio stamp from Nevin & Smith with the inclusion of the Prince of Wales’ blazon, is the second type of stamp from Thomas Nevin’s studio that bears an official insignia. Whether his use of this blazon was to signify a commission to contribute to the photograph albums gifted to Prince Alfred is quite possible though as yet undocumented. The blazon was used on decorations for official functions during Prince Alfred’s visit to Hobart in 1868. The banneret (below) adorned the ball given in his honour. Quite different is T. J. Nevin’s official government contractor stamp which appears on prisoner identification photographs taken at the Port Arthur prison and Hobart Gaol (below). It features the Royal insignia of a lion and unicorn rampant encircled by a belt carrying Nevin’s name and studio address. It was devised by government printer James Barnard to endorse all official colonial government documents, including the weekly police gazettes. … More Another rare Nevin & Smith studio stamp
Thomas J. Nevin exhibited the photograph at the Wellington Park Exhibition, Hobart, in July 1868. It appeared in the publication Tasmanian Photographers 1840-1940: A Directory (Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, 1995:82) … More Wellington Park Exhibition July 1868
Less than a dozen portraits and stereographs have survived in public and private collections of the work conducted by Robert Smith (n.d.) and Thomas J. Nevin while operating the firm with the name business name “NEVIN & SMITH” at the former studio of Alfred Bock, 140 Elizabeth Street, Hobart (Tasmania) from ca. 1867 to February 1868 when the partnership was dissolved. This rare hand-tinted portrait was taken by Thomas J. Nevin of his fiancée Elizabeth Rachel Day (1847-1914) while in partnership with Robert Smith ca. 1868. … More Nevin & Smith tinted vignette of Elizabeth Rachel Day 1868
Examples of Thomas Nevin’s handwriting can assist in identifying inscriptions on the versos of so many unattributed photographs of the period in public holdings. The handwritten inscription – “Clifford & Nevin, Hobart Town” – which appears on several studio portraits in private and public collections, may be one source of either Nevin’s or Clifford’s calligraphy. … More Signatures and handwriting 1870s