Working with police and prisoners

The last document (to date) of Thomas Nevin’s direct involvement with government legislation pertaining to police administration was signed as a resolution on the occasion of a bill to be introduced in the House of Assembly to effectively centralise the various municipal and territorial forces. The meeting he attended and its resolutions, which was chaired by His Worship the Mayor Alderman Crouch, was reported in The Mercury, 19 July 1888. Thomas Nevin’s recorded comment was:

“Mr. Thos Nevin was under the impression that the police should be under stricter supervision.” … More Working with police and prisoners

Thomas Nevin self portraits 1850s-1880

There are not many extant “self portraits” of Tasmanian colonial photographers of the 1850s-1880. The watercolour attributed to Alfred Bock of a young gentleman is held at the State Library of Tasmania; the stereograph of a supine Thomas Nevin and friend is held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery; and the rest are held in descendants’ private collections. These portraits all exhibit interesting variations in male facial hair fashions. … More Thomas Nevin self portraits 1850s-1880

The first Rogues’ Galleries

“The public may not be aware that there is a photographic album at Scotland Yard, in which may be seen the carte of every ticket-of-leave man in the country … One carte de visite is kept in the police album at Scotland Yard, another at the station-house of the division of the metropolis in which he may select to reside, and a third is forwarded to any country district he may wish to remove to …” … More The first Rogues’ Galleries

Trademarks copyrighted for 14 years

Tasmanian photographers’ copyright of their work was regulated by the Registration of Trade Marks Act 28, No. 6, Victoria, from 1864. As this notice indicates, only two copies of their trade mark, applied to the “goods” they were intended to protect were required to be deposited with the Registrar. The applicant was issued with a one year Provisional Certificate, and if no objection was raised, the copyright endured absolute for a period of 14 years. Tasmanian artists wishing to register proprietorship of paintings, drawings, works of art, engravings and photographs were required to place their applications with Office of Copyright Registry of Victoria. … More Trademarks copyrighted for 14 years

Nevin’s Royal Arms studio stamp

Commercial photographers in Tasmania in the 1870s and 1880s were extended two basic but very different types of government support, and these differences are evident in the designs of their studio stamps. Henry Hall Baily, for example, used a stamp signifying patronage by the Governor of Tasmania. He photographed notable citizens, visiting VIPs and official functions, often with the express intention of submitting his photographs to national and international exhibitions. In other words, Baily was never contracted under tender to work for the Colonial government, merely rewarded for special commissions by the Governor. His stamp from the mid 1880s was printed with the words “Under the Patronage of His Excellency Sir G. C. Strahan”, and the initials “K.C.M.G” beneath. Thomas J. Nevin, by contrast, was issued with a stamp which contained the design of the Supreme Court seal and the Prisons Department publications banner because he served the Colonial government as a photographer on a regular basis in Supreme Court sittings. … More Nevin’s Royal Arms studio stamp

Well-groomed prisoners MORRIS and EVANS

Neither Morris nor Evans looks cowered, intimidated, or fearful, and why should they on the occasion of their discharge from prison? They look at ease in the presence of the photographer. Both appear healthy, self-possessed, and clean. Both men had shaved, buttoned their jackets, and folded their neckerchiefs neatly into the top of the jacket like a gentleman’s cravat. Although these men appear to be wearing their own standard issue prison uniforms, they may have been supplied with passably clean clothing for the occasion. They needed to be identifiable as prisoners from their clothing. Morris was photographed in spring and posed wearing the light jacket and neckerchief; Evans was photographed in summer but wore the standard issue woollen jacket and neckerchief. Released as “Free”, he was a ‘native” or local prisoner with a short-term sentence whose eyes were firmly fixed on the future and freedom. … More Well-groomed prisoners MORRIS and EVANS

How misattribution can persist

Isobel Crombie’s book, Body Culture: Max Dupain, Photography and Australian Culture, 1919-1939, published by the National Gallery of Victoria (2004) includes this original photograph of a Tasmanian prisoner taken by government contractor and professional photographer Thomas J. Nevin, dated 1874, with misattribution to the Port Arthur Commandant A. H .Boyd on page 39. In a discussion which lies outside the dates of the book’s title, Isobel Crombie attributes this carte-de-visite of convict Henry Smith per Rodney 2 to A. H. Boyd, an accountant promoted through nepotism to the position of Commandant of the Port Arthur prison site, a position he held until forced to resign in December 1873. A. H. Boyd had no reputation in his lifetime as a photographer, and no works in any genre by him are extant. … More How misattribution can persist