Saturday, February 14, 2009

The firm of Nevin & Smith

UPDATED 11th January 2015

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.

Studio portraits
Two studio stamps and one label have survived from their brief partnership. The first stamp featuring the royal insignia of three feathers and a coronet, banded with the German "ICH DIEN" (I Serve) dates from the visit of Prince Albert in late 1867 on his first command, H.M.S. Galatea.

These two children were probably photographed for an album of photographic prints depicting the children of Tasmania which was gifted to Alfred Ernest Albert, the Duke of Edinburgh, second son of Queen Victoria, during his visit to Hobart before he returned to Sydney in January 1868 where he was to survive an assassination attempt weeks later (Clontarf, March 1868).



Title: [Studio portrait of two children] [picture] / Nevin & Smith.
Access/Copyright: Reproduction rights: State Library of Victoria
Accession number(s):
H2005.34/2004
H2005.34/2004A



This photograph, a delicately coloured carte-de-visite portrait of an unidentified bearded man in semi-profile, wearing a summer check-pattern jacket, which is printed verso with the rare Nevin & Smith stamp bearing the Duke of Edinburgh's feathered insignia, was also taken in late 1867 during the Duke's visit.These copies are courtesy of © The Liam Peters Collection 2010.

Thomas Nevin photographed his future wife Elizabeth Rachel Day (1847-1914) during the 1860s; they married in July 1871 at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley (Tasmania). He took this photograph of his fiancee when she was barely out of her teens, circa 1866-8, while operating under the name of Nevin & Smith. Although a personal memento in many respects, and as such, surprisingly stamped verso, it may have been intended for sale to a large circle of friends, such as the group featured in the stereograph below celebrating a special occasion, probably a party in celebration of Queen Victoria's birthday, May 27th, 1868.



Elizabeth Rachel Day, married Thomas Nevin in 1871
Taken by Thomas Nevin at Nevin & Smith (late Bock's) ca. 1865
140, Elizabeth Street Hobart Town
Full-length portrait, carte-de-visite
Copyright © KLW NFC & The Nevin Family Collections ARR. Watermarked.

Terpsichoreans
Just possibly, the stereograph below of a large group of men and women in formal wear, some seated on the grass, many more dancing in a circle close to the River Derwent, was taken about the same time as the full-length portrait of Elizabeth Rachel Day. She wore a white dress and dark topcoat, her white hat placed on top of a photo album for the studio portrait, and many women in this outdoor stereograph wore the same outfit on this day of festivities. Dozens of men wore a striking white hat with a wide brim, floppy crown and black band visible in other photographs by Nevin.  In all likelihood, this stereograph bearing Nevin & Smith's pink label verso was taken on a public holiday at one of many events celebrating the 49th birthday of Queen Victoria, reported next day in detail in the Mercury, of 28th May 1868:



TRANSCRIPT
CELEBRATION OF HER MAJESTY'S BIRTHDAY.
Yesterday being declared a general holiday by proclamation, to celebrate the 49th anniversary of the birth of Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria, was very closely observed as such throughout the city. The stores, merchants' offices, and shops were all closed, with the exception of a few of those devoted to the sale of creature comforts, and the people very generally betook themselves to scenes of enjoyment. There were many private pic-nic and excursion parties, and a long list of public amusements was provided. Soon after sunrise the flagstaff on Mulgrave Battery was dressed with appropriate colors, the " flag that braved a thousand years" waving proudly over all. At the Battery Staff, and also at the Telegraph Office, the Royal Standard was hoisted, and at the offices of the several consuls the flags of various nations were displayed. The shipping in harbor likewise made a good display of bunting, and at many of the shops and residences in the city staffs, which had been erected to do honor to " the Duke," bore national ensigns in honor of his Queen mother....
The Mercury report continued with a paragraph about a dancing party at Rosny, and a spot of bother:



TRANSCRIPT
ROSNY.
A number of people yesterday took advantage of the holiday to pass a few hours at Rosny, where arrangements had been made for their amusement. A race between two skiffs, for £4 a side, took place, and appeared to be watched with considerable interest by the spectators. A brass band which had been engaged discoursed sweet music,  to which the Terpsichoreans danced incessantly until about 5 o'clock, when the steamer made her last trip to Hobart Town. A very pleasant afternoon was spent, the only interruption to the general harmony being caused by the conduct of several young "roughs," who terminated their disgraceful proceedings by a general fight on board the boat.
Source: CELEBRATION OF HEB MAJESTY'S BIRTHDAY. (1868, May 28). The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved January 24, 2015, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article8852443





Stereograph by Nevin & Smith of  the Terpsichoreans at Rosny , 27th May 1868
Verso label: "Tasmanian Views from Nevin & Smith Photographers"
Photos recto and verso copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2014-2015
Taken at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, 10 November 2014
TMAG Ref: Q1994.56.20.1

Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection (online catalogue 2006)
"Tasmanian Views from Nevin & Smith .... plus Tombstones copied, Terms - Cheap!"
REF: Q1994.56.20.1
ITEM NAME: Label:
MEDIUM: Paper and printing ink,
MAKER: Nevin & Smith [Artist];
DATE: 1860s
DESCRIPTION : Label from the back of Q1994.56.20 for photographers Nevin & Smith, 140 Elizabeth Street, Hobarton
INSCRIPTIONS & MARKS: On back a pink label: Tasmanian views/ from/ Nevin & Smith,/ Photographers,/ 140, Elizabeth St., Hobarton./ Stereoscopic and Album Portraits/ Views Photographed./ Viiews of Residences, Tombstones copied, Terms —Cheap!

Residences
This stereograph of a house bears a yellow rather than pink Nevin & Smith label, with Smith's name struck through, the word "Late" superimposed, and the plural "s" on the word "Photographers" crossed out. It was taken before Smith's departure from the partnership in February 1868 but reprinted soon after. From 1869, Nevin replaced this label with a blind stamp impress on the recto of outdoor stereographs with the simple wording "T. Nevin Photo". Different extant stamps, labels and verso inscriptions used by Nevin to date number at least eight.

Unlike the single image carte-de-visite photograph (below) of a large single-storey house on a hill taken by Nevin of his parents' family home at Kangaroo Valley in 1868, this stereograph of a house bears his commercial label (Smith's name struck through)  pasted verso, and was therefore intended for sale to clientele. The subject of the photograph represents one of several houses built to a similar architectural template in the Kangaroo Valley area. Some tinting of the grass in this image was attempted but otherwise abandoned, suggesting a rejected copy.





Stereograph by Nevin & Smith of four people outside a house with side extensions
Verso: Nevin & Smith yellow label ca.  1868
Photos recto and verso copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2014-2015
Taken at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, 10 November 2014
TMAG Ref: Q16826.9

Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection (online catalogue 2006)
REF: Q16826.9
ITEM NAME: photograph:
MEDIUM: albumen silver print sepia toned stereoscope,
MAKER: T Nevin [Photographer];
TITLE: 'Tasmanian Views.'
DATE: 1870c
DESCRIPTION : No information relative to title of his images. This one, of a house or maybe a school.
INSCRIPTIONS & MARKS: (On bacK) Tas. Views from Nevin & Smith (Late) Photographers (s crossed out) 140 Elizabeth Street. Steroscopic and Album Portraits Views Photographed. Views of Residences, Tombstones copied, Terms:-Cheap!





The cottage that John Nevin built at Kangaroo Valley Tasmania
"T.J. Nevin Photo" inscribed on verso, ca. 1868. Exhibited at Wellington Park 1868.
From © KLW NFC & The Liam Peters Collection 2010.

Nevin and Smith dissolution 26 Feb 1868

Above: Dissolution notice published in The Mercury on 26 February 1868 of the partnership between Robert Smith and Thomas Nevin. William Robert Giblin, later Attorney-General and Premier, was Thomas Nevin's solicitor and witness.

The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery holds fifty or more of stereographs by Nevin etc, some stamped verso, some blank. Many have survived in barely fair condition, not simply because these early stereos were printed on absorbent salt paper which rendered the image fuzzy over time, they were salvaged from private and public archive locations where conditions were less than optimal. Wherever two very similar photographs have survived, one with Nevin's stamp or inscription, one without, the following circumstances of their production have to be considered:

1. duplicates of a stamped original chosen for commercial profit were not routinely stamped but simply supplied to the client as a copy.
2. duplicates of an original or another very similar original showing the same subject and location but differing in minor details of pose etc were not stamped, especially photographs taken for immediate use by friends, family or even government officials well -known to the photographer.
3. one original photograph bearing a specimen studio stamp was submitted to the Customs and Patent  Office to register copyright of that particular stamp for one year, or for a limited quantity to be produced for a specified fee. Nevin covered the registration of  seven different stamps from 1865 to 1888,
4. some originals were flawed at the moment of capture, or rendered useless during printing and colouring, and so not stamped or circulated but nonetheless retained by the studio, which then ensured a life beyond the photographer's control in the hands of collectors.
5. many stock commercial negatives by Nevin were acquired and reproduced by Samuel Clifford until Clifford's retirement in 1878. The Anson Brothers acquired Nevin's, Clifford's and even Baily's negatives (the latter through Joshua Anson's theft) and reproduced them with their own studio stamps.

However, in spite of these caveats which segue into disputes about attribution, it must be remembered that Thomas Nevin began professional photography around 1863 at New Town, then ca 1865 with Alfred Bock, continued as a partner in commercial production with Robert Smith, Samuel Clifford and Henry Hall Baily, as well as taking commissions for the Colonial Government's Lands Department, the Hobart City Corporation, the Municipal Police Office, and the New Town Territorial Police, retiring from professional photography after twenty-five years only at the birth of his last child, Albert, in 1888. Only 450 or so photographs to date have been correctly identified and attributed; many more sit in archives and private collections yet to be aired and taken for a stroll down the virtual highway.

ANSON'S Books of Tasmanian Scenes



Title: Anson's books of Tasmanian scenes, both north, south and the interior
Creator(s):Anson Bros
Date: 1890?
Description: 1 endpaper : Black/red lettering, 40 X 58 cm.
Related to:In: Picturesque and interesting Tasmania. No. 1
Subjects:Anson Bros Craw and Ratcliff, Booksellers, Stationers and Fancy
Other titles:Best photographs of Tasmania's world-fames scenery, mountains, lakes, ferns and rocks Endpaper of album
Format: album
Location: Tasmaniana Library
ADRI: AUTAS001125641373

John Anson acquired the stock in 1878 of both Thomas Nevin and Samuel Clifford; he reprinted - on glass - an Aboriginal portrait originally taken by Charles A. Woolley in 1866 which is privately held in The McCullagh Collection. With his brother Joshua, recently released from prison, they reproduced Clifford and Nevin's photographs taken in 1873 and 1874 at Port Arthur, printed as an album in 1889 titled Port Arthur Past and Present.



Ansons Bros. photographic album, Port Arthur Past and Present (1889)
State Library of NSW
Photos copyright KLW NFC 2009

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ORIGINAL ARTICLE  posted 14th February 2009
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THE TWO NEVIN & SMITH STUDIO STAMPS
Two different studio stamps were used by the firm Nevin & Smith until 1868:



Elizabeth Rachel Day, married Thomas Nevin in 1871
Taken by Thomas Nevin at Nevin & Smith (late Bock's) ca. 1865
140, Elizabeth Street Hobart Town
Full-length portrait, carte-de-visite
Copyright © KLW NFC & The Nevin Family Collections (Eva Morris Estate 2009) ARR. Watermarked.
Click on images for large view


Elizabeth Rachel Day (1847-1914) was barely out of her teens when the photographers Nevin & Smith composed two portraits in different formats of her in the mid 1860s.

In this full-length portrait and the one below, she wears the same top coat. The studio decor of the full-length portrait above, however, is very different from the later portraits taken by Thomas Nevin at the City Photographic Establishment. The carpet and table and drape are not the same, suggesting either another studio in another venue or furnishings belonging to Alfred Bock who was the previous proprietor of the City Photographic, and whose stock was sold at auction when he became insolvent and departed for Victoria in 1865.



Elizabeth Rachel Day, fiancee of Thomas Nevin late 186os
Upper-body portrait, hand-tinted carte-de-visite.
Verso bears the same Nevin & Smith studio stamp as the full-length portrait




Copyright © KLW NFC & The Nevin Family Collections ARR. Watermarked.

Both portraits remain in the private collections of the Nevin Family, and both are rare for the studio stamp which appears on verso. Thomas Nevin set up the firm Nevin & Smith ca. 1865 at the City Photographic Establishment, 140 Elizabeth Street, Hobart Town, in partnership with Robert Smith. However, by February 1868, the partnership was dissolved.



Above: Dissolution notice published in The Mercury on 26 February 1868 of the partnership between Robert Smith and Thomas Nevin. William Robert Giblin, later Attorney-General and Premier, was Thomas Nevin's solicitor and witness.

T.Nevin stereo TMAG

Nevin & Smith studio Elizabeth St. late 1860s
The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection
Ref: Q1994.56.12 sepia stereoscope salt paper print
T. Nevin impress


The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery online catalogue entry in 2005 gave these details:

Ref: Q1994.56.12
ITEM NAME: Photograph:
MEDIUM: sepia stereoscope salt paper print
MAKER: T Nevin [Artist]; DATE: 1860s late
DESCRIPTION : Hobart from near 140 Elizabeth Street on corner Patrick ? Street.
Nevin & Smith photographic Studio in buildings on extreme right [ refer also to Q1994.56.33]
INSCRIPTIONS & MARKS: Impress on front: T Nevin/ photo

'THE COLOURED ONES FROM SMITHS'
Smith may have been an independent photographer prior to his partnership with Nevin. By about 1863, according to Esther Mather (d.1872, aged 77 years), Smith was providing the citizens of Hobart Town with coloured photographs.

In this letter written by Esther Mather to her [step] grandson, dated 1st October, 1865, she refers to a coloured portrait taken at Smiths, possibly a few years earlier, which compared less favourably with the one taken that day of her brother at Charles A. Woolley's studio:

[Page 1]
My dear Francis,
Thou wilt think me long in not not [sic] sending the likeness I promised but it has not been for want of thought about thee but I have been so very much engaged with one thing or another that I have hardly had time to write a few lines but thou wilt be better off in the end for I only met up with my Brother to day [sic] which I also enclose Its from Wooleys [sic] and I consider it a very good # one [superscript inserted] probably more like him now than the coloured ones from Smiths I dont remember having given George one but if I have not I will get one for [Page 2] Him and send It...



Photos © KLW NFC 2009 ARR

Source: Morris Miller Library, University of Tasmania,
Special Collections
Ref: M.19/70:
Notes:"The letter is from the Mather family papers and is from Esther Mather to her [step] grandson, Joseph Francis Mather, in which she makes reference of her likeness from Woolleys being better than the coloured ones from Smiths. It is dated 1.8. 1865"

THE LATE MR SMITH
The oddity about Smith's identity is the use of the word "late" by Thomas Nevin next to Smith's name on the verso of a stereograph held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, one of several with the Nevin & Smith studio stamp.

The use of "Late" appears on the verso of this one:-
Tas. Views from Nevin & Smith (Late) Photographers (s crossed out) 140 Elizabeth Street
- indicating Smith's departure from the partnership and perhaps his demise.

TMAG Catalogue details: Ref: Q16826.9
ITEM NAME: photograph:
MEDIUM: albumen silver print sepia toned stereoscope,
MAKER: T Nevin [Photographer];
TITLE: 'Tasmanian Views.'
DATE: 1870c
DESCRIPTION : No information relative to title of his images. This one, of a house or maybe a school.
INSCRIPTIONS & MARKS: (On back) Tas. Views from Nevin & Smith (Late) Photographers (s crossed out) 140 Elizabeth Street. Stereoscopic and Album Portraits Views Photographed. Views of Residences, Tombstones copied, Terms:-Cheap!


THE "ICH DIEN" STUDIO STAMP

Nevin & Smith verso 1868Nevin & Smith children album 1868

STATE LIBRARY OF VICTORIA
[Studio portrait of two children] Nevin & Smith.
Digital image(s):
Creator:
Nevin & Smith, photographer.
Title: [Studio portrait of two children] [picture] / Nevin & Smith.
Access/Copyright: Reproduction rights: State Library of Victoria
Accession number(s):
H2005.34/2004
H2005.34/2004A
Date(s) of creation: [ca. 1867-ca. 1875]
Medium: 1 photographic print on carte de visite mount : albumen silver, hand col. ;
Dimensions: 11 x 7 cm.
Collection:
John Etkins collection.
Contents/Summary:
Both standing on either side of a chair, whole-length, full face, boy on left, girl on right.
Notes:
Title assigned by cataloguer.
Not dated but Nevin worked at 140 Elizabeth Street, Hobart Town, between 1867-1875.

Ref.: Australians behind the camera, directory of early Australian photographers, 1841-1945 / Sandy Barrie, 2002.
Photographer printed on verso: From / Nevin & Smith / late Bock’s / 140 Elizabeth Street / Hobart Town.
Source/Donor:
Gift of Mr John Etkins; 2005. 


The third photograph bears a rare studio stamp by Nevin & Smith on the verso which features the royal insignia of three feathers and a coronet, banded with the German "ICH DIEN" (I serve). This variation of the Nevin & Smith stamp has never before surfaced in either private or public collections.

These two children were probably photographed for an album of photographic prints depicting the children of Tasmania which was gifted to Alfred Ernest Albert, the Duke of Edinburgh, during his visit to Hobart in 1868.

According to Jack Cato in The Story of the Camera in Australia (1977 ed. p.58), a group of Tasmanian photographers was invited to contribute. Cato says:

"All the cities presented the Duke with official albums of photographs, and many photographers presented private ones. Henry Johnstone gave him a book of pictures of the beautiful women of Victoria. Charles Nettleton gave a book of prints of Melbourne and the countryside. But best of all was the one given by the photographers of Tasmania - a collection of prints showing the beautiful children of the island. The Duke was so charmed with it that he requested a duplicate album be made and sent to his mother."

Where is this album? Four photographers were commissioned by the colonial government of Tasmania to cover the Duke's visit, notably Samuel Clifford and George Cherry, and possibly Cato is referring to this group, but an album of children's portraits taking by this group to commemorate the event as a Royal gift has yet to come to light.

This young man with a stereoscope viewer could have been one of Thomas Nevin's assistants, perhaps even the partner Smith in the firm Nevin & Smith. See this post here.

young man with stereoscope by TJ Nevin

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