Captain Edward Goldsmith puts household goods at auction 1855

Auctioneer Wm. Gore Elliston considered himself “favoured” with the opportunity to sell the contents of Captain Edward Goldsmith’s residence at 19 Davey Street, Hobart, Tasmania at auction, scheduled for the 8th and 9th August, 1855. Captain Goldsmith himself would have attended. He remained in the colony until permanent departure in February 1856 on board the Indian Queen as a passenger, accompanied by his wife Elizabeth and son Edward jnr. In addition to the sale of valuable household furniture and furnishings were food processing equipment from Captain Goldsmith’s licensed wholesale store, and ship gear and timber from his shipyard and patent slip on the Queen’s Domain. If sold, the many hundreds of items of furniture, dinner ware, engravings and antiquities on offer would have been purchased for the families of public officials in the colonial administration as much as by the wealthy merchant class, and those families eventually, as they do, would have donated superior pieces to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Galley (TMAG) and other local public collections … More Captain Edward Goldsmith puts household goods at auction 1855

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 soldier of the 2/14 Regiment, 31 years old, when he arrived in Tasmania on board the Haversham in August 1867. He was branded with the letter “D” as a deserter and sentenced to 8 years for forgery and uttering 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Watt Beattie and the Nevin family legacy

The friendship between these two photographers, Thomas J. Nevin and John Watt Beattie extended back to 1887 on the death of Thomas Nevin’s father, John Nevin at the family house and farm adjacent to the Lady Franklin Museum at Kangaroo Valley (renamed Lenah Valley in 1922). It had long been a wish of John Nevin that the Franklin Museum be restored to its original purpose when first built on Jane Franklin’s land, named Ancanthe, as a library and botanical museum, but by 1887, it was little more than a storage shed for local orchardists and farmers. As a gesture towards reviving John Nevin’s wish, before his own death in 1930, John Watt Beattie approached the Hobart City Corporation with a proposal to house his vast convictaria collection in the Lady Franklin Museum at Kangaroo Valley (Lenah Valley) but the HCC declined. … More John Watt Beattie and the Nevin family legacy

Two histories, one execution: Job SMITH & Emanuel BLORE

Job Smith aka Wm Campbell was photographed by Thomas Nevin either when Smith was one of sixty prisoners who had transferred back to the Hobart Gaol from Port Arthur before July 1873 (see W.R. Giblin’s and the Inspector of Police report of convicts tabled in the Parliament on July 17th, 1873), or just before Smith as William Campbell was returned to Port Arthur on May 8th, 1874 to complete his 8 year sentence, accompanied by Thomas Nevin in his role as police agent and photographer. Both were listed as passengers on the schooner Harriet’s way bill. … More Two histories, one execution: Job SMITH & Emanuel BLORE

Thomas Nevin’s  stereography

The TMAG holds fifty or more prisoner or convict photographs taken by Thomas Nevin for the Municipal Police Office and Hobart Gaol, and another sixty or so of his cartes-de-visite and stereographs, called ‘stereoscopes’ in the former catalogue entries. His photographs of convicts held at the TMAG were wrongly attributed to A.H. Boyd, a result of the confusion generated by researcher Chris Long, which appeared in the TMAG’s publication, Tasmanian Photographers 1840-1940: A Directory (1995:36). … More Thomas Nevin’s  stereography

Prisoner George LEATHLEY

Extant examples of Thomas J. Nevin’s photographs taken in the 1870s of Tasmanian prisoners – or “convicts” which is the archaic term used in Tasmanian tourism discourse up to the present – number more than 300 in Australian public collections. These two different photographs of prisoner George Leathley are typical of his application of commercial studio portraiture. They were taken by Thomas J. Nevin between Leathley’s conviction for murder in 1866 and Leathley’s discharge with a ticket of leave in 1876. During those years, the earlier photograph, No. 14, was the first, taken in 1872 and reprinted in 1874, entered into the Hobart Gaol photo book as No. 226, pasted again onto Leathley’s criminal record sheet. The photograph with the recto No. 89, might evince an older George Leathley, taken in 1876 on his discharge. His original conviction in 1866 was death, commuted to life in prison. … More Prisoner George LEATHLEY

Two histories, two inscriptions: Tasmanian prisoners 1874

Thomas Nevin would have carried at least two copies on his person of the prisoner’s photograph, one loose and one pasted to the prisoner’s record sheet, in the event of attempted escape in transit. Other copies remained at the Office of Inspector of Police, Town Hall, Hobart. Dr Coverdale, the Surgeon-Commandant at Port Arthur who had replaced A.H. Boyd by January 1874 deemed this procedure sufficient for security as a dozen or so prisoners were evacuated every week back to Hobart by schooner as soon as he assumed office. Clearly, Dr Coverdale’s predecessor A. H. Boyd had nothing to do with this photograph of Job Smith, nor indeed with any other of these 1870s prisoner mugshots for the simple and very obvious facts that (a) Boyd was not a photographer and no photographs in any genre supposedly taken by him have been found extant nor ever will be found unless they have been faked, as for example, the image of the Port Arthur prison printed by the Anson Bros in 1889 (Kerr, Stilwell 1992); and (b) the commission awarded to Thomas Nevin to photograph prisoners was given in 1872 by the Attorney-General W. R. Giblin after the visit by senior prison official and politicians from Victoria to the Port Arthur prison. Just one image, reprinted many times, of Job Smith aka William Campbell is extant. Thomas Nevin photographed him once and once only, although at least three duplicates and copies are currently extant in State and National collections. … More Two histories, two inscriptions: Tasmanian prisoners 1874