Dan Sprod and Thomas Nevin’s photography in the 1970s

During the 1970s publishers John Ferguson of Sydney commissioned established authors to research and collect old photographs to be published as a series of books called “Victorian and Edwardian [insert name here of an Australian city, e.g. Sydney, Adelaide etc]  from old photographs”. Patsy Adam-Smith, for example, compiled the Melbourne edition, Victorian and Edwardian Melbourne from old photographs in 1979. Dan Sprod was commissioned by Ferguson publishers to compile the Hobart edition in 1976. The draft papers of his research for this book, published in 1977 as Victorian and Edwardian Hobart from old photographs , are held at the National Library Australia, Canberra, where he was Chief Librarian during the 1960s. The impetus behind this emergent interest in Australian 19th century and early 20th century photography was money. Old photographs and early cameras were commanding large prices at auctions. The Tasmanian Saturday Evening Mercury published this article – “Your old photos could be valuable” – on November 15th, 1975, listing the handsomely high prices fetched for old prints and photo equipment at Christies of London in the previous two years. Prints by Tasmanian photographers of the 1880s – Spurling, Anson and Beattie – were touted here as worthy collectables: … More Dan Sprod and Thomas Nevin’s photography in the 1970s

Thomas Nevin’s stereo view of St Mary’s Cathedral, Hobart, ca. 1874

The view of this church,St Mary’s Cathedral (R.C.), Hobart, Tasmania, was taken by Thomas J. Nevin on commission for Police Superintendent Frederick Pedder (1841-1923), Nevin’s colleague at the Municipal Police Office, Hobart Town Hall. It was passed into the hands of his son, solicitor Alfred Pedder (1881-1977) whose name appears on the verso and whose daughter Sylvia in turn may have donated it to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in the 1970s. Other stereographs in this series inscribed verso with “A. Pedder” is a view of Harrington Street and the cathedral from Lime Kiln Hill and a view from across the Huon River to the town known as Victoria. Thomas Nevin’s photograph of this church, St Mary’s Cathedral, 164 Harrington Street, Hobart, was taken a few years before 1876, the date when the lantern tower was removed and a substantial part of the cathedral rebuilt. It was closed for five years, re-opening in 1881. … More Thomas Nevin’s stereo view of St Mary’s Cathedral, Hobart, ca. 1874

Thomas Nevin and the Terpsichoreans, New Norfolk 1867

If the newspaper report is at all accurate, these excursionists danced up a storm. They never stopped. They danced on the bridge, accompanied by a brass band, whatever bridge that may have been, and they danced non-stop on board the Monarch steaming its way up the River Derwent until they reached their destination. Once at Shoobridge’s, they continued dancing non-stop for hours in the hop room, and then moved out to the paddock where they not only danced, they played a game called “kiss the ring” [?]. On the homeward journey, aboard the Monarch, their dancing reached fever-pitch – or, as the reporter phrased it, “all went merry as a marriage peal”.  The merriment of the New Norfolk excursionists was captured by Thomas Nevin with three photographs, according to the newspaper report, so where are the photographs now? The only extant photograph of dancers identified as Thomas Nevin’s  is this one, printed as a stereograph on a buff mount, and labelled verso with the firm’s name – … More Thomas Nevin and the Terpsichoreans, New Norfolk 1867

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

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

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

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

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 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

Captain Edward Goldsmith and the patent slip 1855

Failure of trust had marked Captain Goldsmith’s experiences with Hobartonians since the year of departure of his good friend, Lieutenant-Governor Sir John Franklin and his wife Jane Franklin in 1843. Sir William Denison, the Colony’s governor in 1849 was most enthusiastic about Captain Goldsmith’s plans for a patent slip, but the government’s refusal to recompense him fully for expenses in building the twin steamer the Kangaroo, had already led to major disappointment. The final insult came with the government not meeting their own terms of agreement in promising assistance to build the patent slip. … More Captain Edward Goldsmith and the patent slip 1855

Queen’s Brian May & Elena Vidal on T.R. Williams’ stereography 1850s

T.R. Williams’ stereographs taken of scenes in an English village in the 1850s (“Scenes in Our Village”) have been reproduced by Brian May and Elena Vidal in a superb publication, “A Village Lost and Found” . The book comes in a slip case that includes a stereoscopic viewer invented by Brian May “which makes the magic happen”. … More Queen’s Brian May & Elena Vidal on T.R. Williams’ stereography 1850s

Samuel Clifford, Thomas Nevin and two cameras

DOUGLAS STEWART FINE BOOKS LTD HOBART BOOK FAIR was held on February 12 – 13, 2011 with three items on sale pertaining to Thomas J. Nevin’s commercial photography.
STEREOGRAPH of CLIFFORD’S CAMERA
The first was this stereograph attributed to Samuel Clifford but ostensibly showing Clifford’s camera. Who took the photograph? Did Clifford carry two cumbersome cameras with him into this dense bush setting at Brown’s River, or was he accompanied – as so often he was around Tasmania – by Nevin? If so, the stereograph deserves the double attribution of Clifford & Nevin, an inscription which appears on several items also held in private collections. … More Samuel Clifford, Thomas Nevin and two cameras

Rocking Stone Parties on Mount Wellington

The Captain of the party pushed forward to the hut at a place called the Springs to have breakfast prepared for us. The water flows down the mountain to the city. It is conveyed by a channel cut in the earth (about three feet wide). The old man & woman who reside at the hut supply visitors with implements and cook what provender they may take with them for which 1/- per head is generally presented to them. We arrived there at 1/2 past eight & were glad to sit down to an excellent breakfast of cold lamb and coffee. We also enjoyed a draught of the cold crystal water from the murmuring spring. … More Rocking Stone Parties on Mount Wellington

Mary Anne Nevin, sister of Thomas Nevin

Mary Ann Nevin, born near Belfast Ireland in 1844, arrived in Hobart in 1852 with her mother Mary Nevin nee Dickson, her brother Thomas Nevin (b.1842), her sister Rebecca Nevin (b. 1847), and younger brother William John (Jack) Nevin (b.1852). All four children were under twelve years old. Mary Ann was placed on the sick list of the Fairlie, on the voyage out, on 23 April 1852, together with her mother, and in the company of some of the 290 convicts and Parkhurst prison boys on board. She was listed as “child of guard”. … More Mary Anne Nevin, sister of Thomas Nevin

The New Town studio stereographs

The New Town stereographs include views of farms, schools, churches, houses, and mines at nearby Kangaroo Valley where the Nevin family resided, and portraits of groups, including visitors to the Lady Franklin Museum, Nevin family members and friends. The collection of Nevin’s stereographs held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery mostly date from 1868 to the early 1870s. … More The New Town studio stereographs