Friday, June 15, 2007

Alfred Bock's stock-in-trade

Alfred Bock (b.1835 -d. 1920) inherited his father Thomas Bock's daguerreotype establishment at 22 Campbell Street Hobart Town in April 1855 and announced his own photographic business.



Advertisements: Alfred Bock at Campbell Street
Colonial Times, 5th April 1855

By July 1855 he had moved to Elliston's premises at 78 Liverpool Street, formerly occupied by the photographers Duryea and McDonald where he built a "Crystal Palace" studio and purchased photographic equipment from Ross of London. Financial difficulties ensued, and Bock moved several times.



Alfred Bock's studio stamp 1860s
© The Private Collection of John & Robyn McCullagh 2005-2007 ARR.


In 1857 Alfred Bock was at 18 Macquarie Street. But on 6th February, 1858, he was insolvent. Later that year, Bock re-established himself at 140 Elizabeth Street, Hobart Town - a business he called The City Photographic Establishment - and stayed there until 1865 when he was again declared insolvent. By this time Thomas Nevin had been working with Bock as his apprentice since July 1863.

On August 2, 1865 the -

"Stock-in-Trade of a Photographer, comprising - Instruments, Chemicals, Background, accessories, chairs, tables, pedestals, vases, and many other necessary articles for taking photographic portraits etc "

- was auctioned from Bock's premises on behalf of John Milward, his assigneee , along with -

"A large and exceedingly well furnished glass house, 22 feet by 8 feet with dark room attached"

- and -

"A few choice oil paintings in gilt frames, show cases, and photographs and a small collection of books."

Source: Joan Kerr (ed) Dictionary of Australian Artists ... to 1870 (MUP, 1992, p.68)

How many of these items did Thomas Nevin acquire - apart from the dwelling at 138 Elizabeth St and the studio at 140 Elizabeth St, leased from Abraham Biggs (Victoria), and the business name - when he took over The City Photographic Establishment from Bock in 1865?

One item at least is easy to trace. Alfred Bock's design for his own studio stamp was used by Thomas Nevin for commercial studio portraits with some minor alterations and additions into the mid-1870s:



Left: verso of W.R. Giblin portrait, Archives Office of Tasmania Ref: NS1013/1971

Thomas Nevin probably acquired Bock's photographic equipment, "instruments" and chemicals along with the transfer of the lease. Some of the portraits listed at the auction may be those now held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery of Sarah and Thomas Crouch. Some of the larger items, such as the carpet, the table with griffin-shaped legs, the low chair covered with a shiny material, the curtain, and the painted backdrop of river valley and mountain, can be seen in Nevin's carte-de-visite of an unidentified woman in hat, with handbag and umbrella, which bears the studio name on verso (Marcel Safier Collection). These items too might have been included in the sale of Bock's stock-in-trade.



T. Nevin studio portrait of woman with umbrella
© The Safier Collection 2005-2007 ARR.


The same backdrop can be seen on the (viewer's) right in a full length studio portrait of Bishop Willson, dated at ca. 1865 and attributed to Charles A. Woolley by the TMAG. It is visible also in an unattributed photograph of Hugh Munro Hull, coroner and Clerk of the House, Tasmanian Parliament.



Charles A. Woolley attributed, Bishop Willson TMAG Collection

Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin resided on the premises at 138 Elizabeth St next door to the studio from their marriage in July 1871. Their first two children were born there: May Florence in 1872, and Thomas James in 1874.

In January 1876 the Nevins took up residence at the Hobart Town Hall, the location of the Municipal Police Office and Public Library where Nevin had been appointed Office and Hall Keeper. His photographic activities now centred on the provision of criminal identification photographs for the Municipal Police Office. He maintained his other studio at New Town, and the studio at 140 Elizabeth St was retained by a Mr Edward Slide (Hobart Town Gazette). The lease notice appeared in The Mercury on January 8th, 1876:

Title [Thomas Nevin's premises to let]
In Mercury 08/01/1876 Page(s): 1, column 7.

Notes Transcribed from Stilwell Index (Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts)
Thomas Nevin's former premises in Upper Elizabeth Street , Hobart town to let.

This photo, taken in June 2005, shows the laneway and adjoining building which were once The City Photographic Establishment.



Empty laneway at 140 Elizabeth St. in June 2005.
Photo © KLW NFC 2007 ARR

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