Thursday, October 11, 2007

The table with the griffin-shaped legs

Charles A. Woolley placed an advertisement in the Tasmanian Mercury, February 11th, 1871 for his wonderful "magalethoscope" [sic].



Charles Woolley's ad in the Mercury February 11, 1871

This is a misprint, perhaps by the newspaper. The megalethoscope was an apparatus for viewing photographs with stereoptical effect. It was invented in Venice by Swiss-born Carlo Ponti, and made popular during the decade 1860-1870.



Carlo Ponti's megalethoscope 1860s

Charles A. Woolley (1834-1922) also ran a furniture business from his photographic premises. He must have supplied furniture, carpets and wall-hangings to 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' work. William Hanson's furniture warehouse, closer to Alfred Bock and Thomas Nevin's studio, was also a likely supplier and receiver.

The small side table with griffin-shaped legs which appears in the photograph by Woolley of Ann Cotton (below left) also appears in several cartes by Thomas Nevin taken at his studio, The City Photographic Establishment, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town, including full length portraits of himself and his brother Jack, and seated portraits of his parents Mary and John Nevin.

The carpet in the photograph of Ann Cotton (below, left) appears in other photographs by Woolley featuring the family of Louisa Ann Meredith in one, and the Aboriginal trio in another, both of which can be accurately dated to 1866. The carpet in the Nevin photographs also appears in Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin's wedding photograph, July 1871. A wall-hanging which appears in a Woolley uncut photograph of Bishop Willson also appears in the Nevin photograph (below) of the woman with umbrella:





Top Left: Anne Cotton on Charles Woolley's carpet (University of Tasmania Special Collections)

Top Right: Thomas Nevin's man with a stereoscope (McCullagh Collection)

Centre : Thomas Nevin's woman with umbrella (Safier Collection)

Below: Portraits by Thomas Nevin of his parents John and Mary Nevin ca. 1871, taken at The City Photographic Establishment, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town, posed beside the table with distinctive griffin-shaped legs (Shelverton Collection)



As early as 1864 or even earlier, Thomas Nevin was apprenticed to Alfred Bock. In 1864 Bock advertised his skills with sennotypes in Walch's Tasmanian Almanac. By 1867 Nevin had assumed ownership of Bock's studio and glasshouse at 140 Elizabeth Street when Bock departed Tasmania for Victoria. Across the street from Nevin's studio, on the corner of Melville and Elizabeth Streets where the Black Prince Hotel now stands, was William Hanson's furniture warehouse. The premises were licensed soon after, and by 1871 William Hanson was the licensee of the Black Prince. He was also a witness at Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin's wedding. William Hanson's name appears on their marriage certificate, along with Elizabeth's sister's name, Mary Sophia Day.



Walch's Tasmanian Almanac 1864 with advertisements by
Alfred Bock, George Cherry and William Hanson

Has anyone come across this table? Please send a photo!