Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ferns, convicts, and Charles Darwin


Darwin Bicentenary 2009
In this bicentenary of Charles Darwin's birth, a constant stream of media articles, documentaries, publications, exhibitions and interviews with experts and descendants throw further light on Darwin's legacy.

When Darwin visited Hobart, Van Diemen's Land on board the Beagle in February 1836, he stayed at Secheron House, Battery Point and walked to the summit of kunanyi/Mt. Wellington. In this extract from his journal, he expressed amazement at the Tasmanian ferns he encountered on his walk around kunanyi/Mount Wellington:
In some of the dampest ravines, tree-ferns flourished in an extraordinary manner; I saw one which must have been at least twenty feet high to the base of the fronds, and was in girth exactly six feet. The fronds forming the most elegant parasols, produced a gloomy shade, like that of the first hour of the night.

Darwin in 1840. Watercolour by George Richmond.
Reproduced courtesy of the Darwin Heirlooms Trust.

Below is an extract from Chapter XIX of Charles Darwin's Journal of researches into the geology and natural history of the various countries visited by H.M.S. Beagle (London : H. Colburn, 1839) in which he gives an account of his visit to Hobart, Van Diemen's Land, February 1836:

Extract from Chapter XIX:
"The Beagle stayed here ten days, and in this time I made several pleasant little excursions, chiefly with the object of examining the geological structure of the immediate neighbourhood.

The main points of interest consist, first in some highly fossiliferous strata, belonging to the Devonian or Carboniferous period; secondly, in proofs of a late small rise of the land; and lastly, in a solitary and superficial patch of yellowish limestone or travertin, which contains numerous impressions of leaves of trees, together with land-shells, not now existing. It is not improbable that this one small quarry includes the only remaining record of the vegetation of Van Diemen's Land during one former epoch.

The climate here is damper than in New South Wales, and hence the land is more fertile. Agriculture flourishes; the cultivated fields look well, and the gardens abound with thriving vegetables and fruit-trees. Some of the farmhouses, situated in retired spots, had a very attractive appearance. The general aspect of the vegetation is similar to that of Australia; perhaps it is a little more green and cheerful; and the pasture between the trees rather more abundant.

One day I took a long walk on the side of the bay opposite to the town: I crossed in a steamboat, two of which are constantly plying backwards and forwards. The machinery of one of these vessels was entirely manufactured in this colony, which, from its very foundation, then numbered only three and thirty years! Another day I ascended Mount Wellington; I took with me a guide, for I failed in a first attempt, from the thickness of the wood. Our guide, however, was a stupid fellow, and conducted us to the southern and damp side of the mountain, where the vegetation was very luxuriant; and where the labour of the ascent, from the number of rotten trunks, was almost as great as on a mountain in Tierra del Fuego or in Chiloe. It cost us five and a half hours of hard climbing before we reached the summit. In many parts the Eucalypti grew to a great size, and composed a noble forest.

In some of the dampest ravines, tree- ferns flourished in an extraordinary manner; I saw one which must have been at least twenty feet high to the base of the fronds, and was in girth exactly six feet. The fronds forming the most elegant parasols, produced a gloomy shade, like that of the first hour of the night.

The summit of the mountain is broad and flat, and is composed of huge angular masses of naked greenstone. Its elevation is 3100 feet above the level of the sea. The day was splendidly clear, and we enjoyed a most extensive view; to the north, the country appeared a mass of wooded mountains, of about the same height with that on which we were standing, and with an equally tame outline: to the south the broken land and water, forming many intricate bays, was mapped with clearness before us. After staying some hours on the summit, we found a better way to descend, but did not reach the Beagle till eight o'clock, after a severe day's work. (Feb. 6, 1836: pp 486-7) "
[end of extract]

Thomas Nevin's Ferns
Charles Darwin's astonishment at the magnificence of these ferns was repeated by professional photographers working in Tasmania between 1860 to 1880 in endless variations. Ferns laden with snow was a particularly popular image. The large collection of stereographs by Thomas J. Nevin held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery includes these examples  taken around Kangaroo Valley and the foothills of kunanyi/Mt. Wellington from the late 1860s to early 1870s:

Stereograph in buff mount by Thomas J. Nevin late 1860s
TMAG Ref: q16826.30.1

Ferns laden with snow
Stereograph in buff mount by Thomas J. Nevin late 1860s
TMAG Ref: q16826.31.1

Young ferns
Stereograph in buff mount by Thomas J. Nevin late1860s
TMAG Ref: q16826.31.2

Darwin on convicts
ABC radio interview with Darwin descendants:
Source: ABC Radio National Science Show


Chris Darwin: I have read Voyage of The Beagle cover to cover. It actually is a good read as well. But as for all the other ones, no.

Robyn Williams
: Do you know anything about his politics? Was he a Whig or was he a Tory?
Chris Darwin: That's a good question. I'm going to go for Whig but I'm only guessing.

Robyn Williams
: He is a bit Whiggish, but of course there's a slightly dark side where they talk about social Darwinism as if only the elite should pass muster and the rest can really go to the wall, and eugenics, which was a bit of a mistake in the middle of the 20th century, which seemed in some people's, Julian Huxley, of all people, a very liberal person, who was head of the British eugenics movement. So there were some things that applied Darwin's ideas which were, as I say, on the dark side. But as for his actual politics...

Chris Darwin
: I think you're probably onto something. I think we can't be too unfair on him, Charlie, because he was a man of his day. But suddenly...when you read about what he said in Australia, for example. Have you got some quotes? There are some pretty frightening quotes which I'd prefer not to be read out loud, but I think it does show that he was not of the view that...there was a view in those days that if you were from the criminal class, that was pretty much where you were going to stay. And then suddenly he came to Australia and found all these people who had been criminals ten years ago were land owners, large tracts of land, and he found it a bit shocking I think.

More: Listen to interview and read the full transcript ...

Darwin Exhibition at the NMA
A large Darwin exhibition was held at the National Museum of Australia from 10 December 2008 to 29 March 2009. This is an extract from their web page:
Charles Darwin must surely stand as one of the most influential figures of the past 200 years. His theory of evolution is popularly accepted as explaining the origin and forms of modern life on Earth. In 2009 the world celebrated the 200th birthday of this great thinker. It also celebrated the 150th anniversary of the publication of his landmark work On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life
The National Museum of Australia was proud to mark this international celebratory year by hosting a major exhibition, Darwin, developed by the American Museum of Natural History, and its own accompanying exhibition, Darwin and Australia.
Read more here: Exhibition at the National Museum of Australia, Canberra

Darwin Exhibition Catalogue NMA 2009
Photo copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2009 ARR

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Red and violet: the impact of Brewster stereoscopy

More and more examples of Thomas Nevin's studio portraits have surfaced in recent years, and a few share ONE very odd feature. They have been inexpertly daubed with two colours: RED or raspberry, and VIOLET or blueberry, and some show a total lack of perspective in the process.

Click on images

A modern viewer would assume that these portraits all have their provenance in a family album, and that a small childish hand had been at work with a paintbox. And perhaps that was the case, but there may yet be another explanation for why the portraits below, all bearing Thomas Nevin's studio stamp, should exhibit such crude hand colouring when the hand-tinting of his other portraits - of family members, of himself, and even of a few convict cartes - is remarkably fine and delicate. The four examples here were all sold commercially, and were painted over after their purchase by their owners who had enough knowledge of stereoscopy to experiment, and may have possessed a stereo viewer. Single cartes were also viewed using a stereoscope, and the addition of colour and lines enhanced the depth of field. They were not painted by Nevin during printing, and they are not stereographs. None of Nevin's stereographs were coloured in this manner.

Sir David Brewster's theories and models of stereoscopy had a huge impact on young photographers around the world in the years 1856-1860 when he published The Stereoscope: Its History, Theory, and Construction, with Its Application to the Fine and Useful Arts and to Education (Murray publishers), and developed a simple light weight companion viewer. Thomas Nevin was 14 years old in 1856, and his younger brother Jack Nevin was just 4 yrs old. Their father John Nevin was the schoolmaster at the Kangaroo Valley Schoolhouse, situated within the Ancanthe estate where the small (Lady) Franklin Museum housed natural specimens and a library. Both Nevin brothers would grow up to become "keepers" of public buildings - Thomas at the Hobart Town Hall and Public Library when he was 33 years old (1876-1880), and Jack Nevin at H.M. Gaol Hobart in training from the age of 21 as keeper under the auspices of Ringrose Atkins (1874) until his untimely death at age 39 in 1891. And both would become photographers. The term "keeper" is an archaic word used still in Britain to denote a manager of an archive and its house.

Below: This is the stereoscope of David Brewster (usually called now a "stereograph") which demonstrated in 1860 his theory of the refrangibility of the colours RED and VIOLET for improved perspective. On the table sits a more sophisticated prototype of his earlier stereoscopic viewer, the binocular model.

David Brewster 1860 with stereoscope and colouring

Source: The Macleay Museum University of Sydney
Notes: This hand-coloured card-mounted stereo photograph, showing Sir David Brewster and a Brewster stereo viewer, was published by the London Stereoscopic Company and retailed from their New York shop about 1860. Reproduced courtesy of T.K. Treadwell, Institute for Photographic Research, Texas, USA

The Stereoscope: Its History, Theory, and Construction, with Its Application to the Fine and Useful Arts and to Education
By David Brewster
Published by J. Murray, 1856
Original from the Bavarian State Library
Digitized Dec 15, 2008
235 pages

On pages 128-129, Brewster expounds on the refrangible effects of RED and VIOLET in helping the eyes of the viewing person to converge more closely the two images (his diagram is not included here):

If we place a small red and violet disc, like the smallest wafer, beside one another, so that the line joining their centres is perpendicular to the line joining the eyes, and suppose that rays from both enter the eyes with their optical axes parallel, it is obvious that the distance between the violet images on each retina will be less than the distance between the red images, and consequently the eyes will require to converge their axes to a nearer point in order to unite the red images, than in order to unite the violet images. The red images will therefore appear at this nearer point of convergence, just as, in the lenticular stereoscope, the more distant pair of points in the dissimilar images appear when united nearer to the eye. By the two eyes alone, therefore, we obtain a certain, though a small degree of relief from colours. With the lens Ll, however, the effect is greatly increased, and we have the mm of the two effects.

From these observations, it is manifest that the reverse effect must be produced by a concave lens,' or by the common stereoscope, when two coloured objects are employed or united. The blue part of the object will be seen nearer the observer, and the red part of it more remote. It is, however, a curious fact, and one which appeared difficult to explain, that in the stereoscope the colour-relief was not brought out as might have been expected. Sometimes the red was nearest the eye, and sometimes the blue, and sometimes the object appeared without any relief. The cause of this is, that the colour-relief given by the common stereoscope was the opposite of that given by the eye, and it was only the difference of these effects that ought to have been observed; and though the influence of the eyes was an inferior one, it often acted alone, and sometimes ceased to act at all, in virtue of that property of vision by which we see only with one eye when we are looking with two.

In the chromatic stereoscope, Fig. 42, the intermediate part mn of the lens is of no use, so that out of the margin of a lens upwards of 2 £ inches in diameter, we may cut a dozen of portions capable of making as many instruments. These portions, however, a little larger only than the pupil of the eye, must be placed in the same position as in Fig. 42.

All the effects which we have described are greatly increased by using lenses of highly-dispersing flint glass, oil of cassia, and other fluids of a great dispersive power, and avoiding the use of compound colours in the objects placed in the stereoscope.

It is an obvious result of these observations, that in painting, and in coloured decorations of all kinds, the red or less refrangible colours should be given to the prominent parts of the object to be represented, and the blue or more refrangible colours to the background and the parts of the objects that are to retire from the eye.

Source: Google Books pdf available and full view


In this portrait of two children from the firm Nevin & Smith, which can be dated accurately at 1868 since it was part of an album gifted to the Duke of Edinburgh by Tasmanian photographers, the drape at the extreme right of frame has received the RED treatment. The colour has deepened with age and dissolved into the paper. The carpet may have been spared. There may be more versions of this image, two in fact for stereoscopic viewing. This example came from the private collection of John Etkins and was donated to the State Library of Victoria in 2005.

In this portrait of a handsome young man leaning on a large stereoscopic viewer, the red and violet colours have been added to his bowtie as well as the drape. The studio stamp on verso bears Nevin's full initials "T. J. Nevin" and the government insignia, which also appears on the verso of his cartes of Tasmanian convicts (conventionally called the Port Arthur convict portraits, 1874). This carte may depict Nevin's partner Smith and date from ca. 1867. It remains with its owner in the Private Collection of John & Robyn McCullagh.

These two images may seem to differ in provenance but not in the strange red blobs arranged in vertical lines leading straight from the bottom of the frame and up the carpet, defying conventional perspective. Both probably originated from the same family in northern Tasmania, booth done by the same person. The top one of the two men was purchased by The QVMAG in 1978. The one below of the young man with his hand on a kitchen chair belongs to a northern Tasmanian private collector.

The image on the top is held at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, and was reproduced in the TMAG publication Tasmanian Photographers 1840-1940: A Directory (1995) on page 34 above the entry for Samuel Clifford. The writer/editor assumed that the subjects in the image were the photographers Samuel Clifford and Thomas Nevin because of the handwritten inscription of their names on the verso, but several cartes with the same inscription are extant, including the one from the McCullagh Collection of the young man with left hand on a kitchen chair. The red and violet colouring is abundant. Click on images and links to view large versions.

None of the men pictured is Thomas Nevin or Jack Nevin or John Nevin. None of these cartes was ever held in Nevin Family Collections, and none was coloured in this way by Nevin or any of his family. The cdv of the two men was recently exhibited at the QVMAG and published in the catalogue The Painted Portrait Photograph in Tasmania (John McPhee 2007).

Page 63, cdv of two men with Clifford & Nevin Hobart Town handwritten on verso,
exhibited at the QVMAG, The Painted Portrait Photograph in Tasmania,
November 2007-March 2008.

Page 62 - the text accompanying the photograph in the exhibition catalogue
The Painted Portrait Photograph in Tasmania
(McPhee, QVMAG 2007) Photos KLW NFC Imprint.

The first paragraph in the accompanying text gives no factual information. The identities of the men may be unknown, but the tall man standing in the carte on the left closely resembles an officer at Port Arthur and member of the officers' cricket team, photographed by Alfred Bock ca 1860 when Thomas Nevin was serving his apprenticeship with Bock. If so, Nevin's association with Samuel Clifford would also date to the early sixties, and place him with Clifford at Port Arthur ca. 1865 or earlier. Several stereographs of the buildings there are dated to ca 1865 with Clifford's attribution (SLTas). Nevin's skills in stereographic production were certainly learnt from Clifford rather than from Bock.

The third paragraph too assumes the relationship with Samuel Clifford was brief and transitory and dated at 1870, which was not the case. When Thomas Nevin advertised his retirement from commercial photography (to take up his appointment as a civil servant whose duties included rendering photographic services at the Town Hall and Police Office) in The Mercury 17th January, 1876, Samuel Clifford announced in the same advertisement that he had acquired Nevin's negatives and would reprint them on request. Clifford had not ceased practice in 1873, therefore, as most commentators have assumed, and many extant prints with Samuel Clifford's stamp or attribution are likely to be reprints from Nevin's negatives. When Clifford sold his stock to the Anson brothers in 1878, they reprinted the negatives of both Nevin and Clifford, and those same negatives were reprinted again when John Watt Beattie acquired the Anson brothers studio in 1892.

From Nevin Public Records

Above: Samuel Clifford's advertisement in
The Mercury, January 17th 1876, advising he has acquired Nevin's negatives

The second paragraph assumes the colouring to be the work of the studio colourist, which was not the case. The colouring was done after the purchase of the carte by a family, probably by a child, and not by either photographer's studio. What has happened here is the inclusion of this carte into a category devised by the exhibition curator called The Photographer's Studio (p.54 of the catalogue), where all other items in the category are deemed to have been coloured before sale. By such means and comparisons the commentary on this one photograph attributed to Clifford & Nevin (p.63) would like to suggest - and not without derision- the childish daubs to be the amateurish work of the junior partner Nevin. The museum's accession records would have shown McPhee that the colouring in this photograph, as in the others listed here which have the same strange daubs, all share provenance from a northern Tasmania family, not related to the photographers, who purchased and then coloured them. This scenario, it seems, never occurred to the exhibitors.

Above (detail) carte of Thomas Nevin in white gloves
holding a Brewster stereoscopic viewer ca mid-1860s.
From © The Eva Nevin Collection 2009 ARR ...

... and a diagram of the Brewster Stereoscope Viewer, basic model.


Brewster's influences during Nevin's career extended beyond stereography and stereoscopy to experiments in spirit photography. The Brisbane Courier on the 2nd October 1869 published an excerpt from a New York source which revealed how the ghostly figure or spirit could be introduced to the photograph to produce an effect called "Sir David Brewster's Ghost". One such experiment went terribly wrong for Nevin on the night of 3rd December 1880 when he was detained but not arrested by Detective Connor on suspicion of acting in concert with a person in a phosphorescent-coated white sheet who had been terrorising the townspeople. For a full newspaper account of the incident, see this article here.

Brewster's ghost

Spirit Photographs: The Brisbane Courier 2 October 1869

Friday, February 20, 2009

From glass negative to print: prisoner Bewley TUCK


Black and white print from Thomas Nevin's glass negative taken of prisoner Bewley Tuck, No. 68
From the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection (online until 2006)

Of the three hundred and fifty (350) or so extant photographs taken by government contractor Thomas J. Nevin of Tasmanian prisoners in the 1870s which were printed unmounted and/or in an oval mount for prison records, this unmounted print of Bewley Tuck (above) is held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG), Hobart.

At least forty more unmounted photographs of prisoners taken by T. J. Nevin in the 1870s which were collated by John Watt Beattie in three panels ca. 1915 are held in the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, together with seventy or so cdvs in oval mounts, the remainder of part of more than three hundred in oval mounts which were originally bequeathed  from the estate of convictaria collector and government photographer John Watt Beattie to the QVMAG in the 1930s. When several dozen mounted and unmounted cdvs were removed from Beattie’s original collection at the QVMAG 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 .

Given the scratches, crossed out inscriptions and general damage, the glass negative from which this print was made would have been used extensively to reprint the prisoner's photograph for prison records as each offense and charge was recorded. The print, unmounted such as this one, would have been pasted to his rap sheet, and more would have been reprinted from the original glass plate several times over the prisoner's long criminal career. Examples of both types of prisoner mugshots - mounted and unmounted - attached to prisoners' rap sheets are held at the Archives Office of Tasmania in prison photo books.

The QVMAG holds the mounted carte-de-visite of this prisoner Bewley Tuck, printed from the one and only sitting with police photographer Thomas J. Nevin, in 1875 at the Hobart Gaol. The QVMAG list (acquired here in 2005) showed a total of 199 mugshots, but only 72 were physically held  there when the list was devised. A total of 127 mugshots were missing by 2005. Two mugshots in this sequence – numbers 198 and 200 of prisoners James Mullens and William Smith, each bearing verso Nevin’s government contractor Royal insignia studio stamp – were deposited at the State Library of NSW, Mitchell collection (SLNSW PBX 6274) ca. 1907, among a dozen more which do not bear the numbering on recto.

The Port Arthur Conservation Project 1983, Elspeth Wishart
Notes from the QVMAG catalogue Q1985: P: 0068
Cdv and uncut print of prisoner Bewley Tuck.

Elspeth Wishart (an employee perpetuating the Boyd misattribution formerly at the QVMAG and now at the TMAG)  contrived the absurd and groundless photographer attribution to the commandant A. H. Boyd during this 1983 exhibition at Port Arthur as a result of a socially aspirational comment by a descendant of Boyd. It was hearsay, and remains nothing more than vexatious misinformation.
See these articles:

One man, two names, one image

In addition to a paper copy of Nevin's photograph of Bewley Tuck (seen in this webshot, 2005), the Archives Office of Tasmania holds two relevant convict records.

Tuck John
04 Aug 1831
Argyle 18 Mar 1831

Tuck Bewley
16 May 1833
Lotus 13 Dec 1832

Two versions exist of the one photograph taken of a convict who was labelled JOHN TUCK on the print from Nevin's original glass plate, and BEWLEY TUCK on the carte-de-visite mounted in an oval frame. Were they one and the same person, or two different men? The Archives Office of Tasmania holds a record for each name, with different transportation dates and physical descriptions, so they must have been two different men, so why is there just one image of the same man, identified as John Tuck on a glass negative, and Bewley Tuck on the carte printed from the negative?

The image of the man himself on the glass negative print with the name John Tuck scratched on it is the original photograph taken by Thomas Nevin at the Hobart Gaol of Bewley Tuck, photographed in the week ending 5th May, 1875, the date of Bewley Tuck's discharge. He had served 15 years for the "attempt to commit unnatural offence" and was 65 years old when he was discharged.

Bewley Tuck's discharge, page 72 of the police gazette, May 1-5, 1875

Although the item held now in a public collection is catalogued as the 1870s original, it may in fact be a later reproduction of Nevin's 1875 glass negative, developed again as a lantern slide by John Watt Beattie in the 1900s for use in his lectures on Tasmanian history.  Images of Tasmanian convicts were also used in lectures on physiognomy delivered by a phrenologist, Mr Sheridan. The Mercury reported his lecture on 30 March 1892 had focused on the criminal type, classifications within the type, and the use of composite photography in phrenology.
There were two great types of criminals-the normal criminal, as already mentioned, and the epileptic.

Mr Sheridan on the criminal type portrayed by phrenology
The Mercury 30 March 1892

If Beattie had made a new lantern slide from the negative of Nevin's original, this may account for the name "John Tuck" appearing on one side of the frame, and another name scratched out appearing on the other side. It is likely therefore to be an error by later copyists such as Beattie and Searle ca. 1915, who reproduced these convict images as "Types of Convicts - Official Prison Photographs from Port Arthur", to be sold as tourist tokens in Beattie's convictaria shop and museum. A few more of these later reproductions from the original glass negative of prisoners Rosetta, Meaghers, and Lee, attributed to Beattie & Searle ca. 1916, are held at the NLA,  and the QVMAG holds three panels totalling 40 unmounted prints devised by Beattie and Searle, together with individual cdvs in oval mounts, mostly of the same prisoner.

Thomas Nevin photographed men who were absconders, men who were arrested on suspicion and charged, men arraigned in the Supreme Court and discharged from the Mayor's Court on a regular basis at the Hobart Gaol. When he photographed this man in May 1875, Tuck was known to his gaolers only as Bewley Tuck. His name appeared only once in the weekly police gazettes, called Tasmania -Reports of Crime for Police Information, between 1871 and 1875, and that one occasion was his discharge.

Thomas Nevin photographed Bewley Tuck once, and once only, providing the prison and police authorities with at least four duplicates from his negative for future police reference, including the print pasted onto the convict's record sheet. The image mounted or unmounted, was a standard police record mugshot, small enough to fit onto the paper record with room for written details.

It's up to the reader to decide which physical description of the two men fits the image, keeping in mind that these convict records are transportation records of arrival and muster were written no later than 1853, and the photograph by T. J. Nevin was taken in 1875. That is a difference of over 40 years, and both of the written records indicate that John Tuck and Bewley Tuck were 18 years old when transported. The discharge details for Bewley Tuck in 1875 give his age at 65 yrs, and an anchor tattoo on back of left hand.

The "punctum" - the detail that grabs the eye - and informs a viewer's interpretation, may be in the image itself, or in the written description, for example, the "long scar below left cheek bone" in John Tuck's record. In the negative image, it's below the right cheek bone, or is it?

The glass negative with "John Tuck" written down the right side.

What has been scratched out on the left?

The carte on the left bears the number "3". Its mirror version on the right shows the image as it appeared on the original negative. The mirror version, straightened, shows that there was just one image of this man, captured first on glass, then printed as both an unmounted paper print, and then mounted in an oval frame as a cdv.

Mirror image straightened:

Below: verso and recto of same image in cdv format in the QVMAG database. Notice that it is number 3 in the series copied at the QVMAG ca. 1985 for distribution to other public institutions (AOT, NLA, TMAG): the first,  number 1 being of prisoner Nutt aka White, and number 2 being Wm Yeomans (also at NLA as a mounted cdv). None of these first three cartes copied from the QVMAG Beattie collections, from which Nevin's 1870s original negatives and vignetted duplicates were drawn, has the inscriptions on verso "Taken at Port Arthur 1874". See this article here: Aliases, Copies and Misattribution.

Records for Bewley Tuck

Tuck, Bewley
Convict No: 71572
Voyage Ship: Lotus
Voyage No: 104
Arrival Date: 16 May 1833
Departure Date: 13 Dec 1832
Departure Port: Portsmouth
Conduct Record: CON94/1/ p202, CON31/1/43, CON37/1/9 p5285
Muster Roll:
Appropriation List: CON27/1/6, CSO1/1/652 14642, MM33/6
Other Records:
Indent: MM33/2
Description List: CON18/1/13 p107

Archives Office of Tasmania – digitised record
Item: CON18-1-13 Image 57,233,57,C,40

Archives Office of Tasmania – digitised record
Item: CON31-1-43 image 98,176,98,F,80

Records for John Tuck

AOT: Archives Office of Tasmania – digitised record
Item: CON18-1-3
Digital image no. 50,242,50,C,40

Convict Details
Tuck, John
Convict No: 71580
Voyage Ship: Argyle
Voyage No: 87
Arrival Date: 04 Aug 1831
Departure Date: 18 Mar 1831
Departure Port: Plymouth
Conduct Record: CON31/1/43
Muster Roll:
Appropriation List: CON27/1/5, MM33/6
Other Records:
Indent: CON14/1/2
Description List: CON18/1/3 p90

Bewley Tuck in the news 2001

27th January 2001
Source: The INDEPENDENT UK Travel

The journey south from Hobart to the peninsula is beautiful. Winding through lush agricultural land, with the gum trees pushed back to the wilderness of the mountains, the road passes through a replica of Constable's English countryside, all hay bales and picture-perfect dairy cows. Our first stop, the tiny town of Richmond, continues the English theme - tea shops serve up yet more Devonshire Teas, there's a pub called The Stables, and a dinky model village of Hobart Town as it was in the 1820s. There's even a Richmond Bridge. But this Richmond Bridge was built by convict labour, and nearby is Richmond's biggest claim to fame - Richmond Jail.

Built between 1825 and 1840, the prison is tiny, yet housed up to 85 prisoners. Walking round the minuscule exercise yard, the punishment rooms, the flogging yard and the suffocating isolation cells, we get a real feeling for the privations these men and women suffered. One convict's record seems particularly pathetic - young Bewley Tuck was imprisoned in 1837 for seven years for stealing a loaf of bread. After further misdeeds his stay was extended, and his final entry shows an extra 15 years to be served for committing "abnormal acts".

RELATED POSTS main weblog

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):

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 Imprint ARR. Watermarked.

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:

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:

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

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
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!

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

ORIGINAL ARTICLE  posted 14th February 2009
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 Imprint 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 Imprint 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

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 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!


Nevin & Smith verso 1868Nevin & Smith children album 1868

[Studio portrait of two children] Nevin & Smith.
Digital image(s):
Nevin & Smith, photographer.
Title: [Studio portrait of two children] [picture] / Nevin & Smith.
Access/Copyright: Reproduction rights: State Library of Victoria
Accession number(s):
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.
John Etkins collection.
Both standing on either side of a chair, whole-length, full face, boy on left, girl on right.
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.
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

RELATED POSTS main weblog

"Tea and sugar Tommy" Chapman