Monday, May 24, 2010

Watering the Town Hall trees too "infra dig" for the caretaker

Hobart Town Hall (Tasmania), opened in 1864.
Photo Copyright © KLW NFC 2008 ARR

On a dry Spring afternoon, a day or so before 19th September, 1879, a reporter at The Mercury newspaper office looked out his window and across the street to the Hobart Town Hall, sized up the state of the saplings struggling to survive in front of the portico, and sat down to pen a vituperative paragraph about the "caretaker" who, he insinuated, considered himself above a task as trivial as watering the trees.

The reporter used the term "caretaker", not "keeper" or "Hall-keeper" which was the official and initial designation when Nevin won the position over 24 candidates in late 1875. The caretaker's job may have been distinct from the Keeper's, but if that were the case, a caretaker as gardener would not be a worthy target of such scarifying criticism. The Keeper, however, was a different matter, especially when the Keeper was also a photographer of ten years' standing, and a valued police associate. The term "Keeper" is an archaic position title still in use in museums and public records offices which denotes a keeper of records and archives. By 1878, Nevin was also the Office Keeper for the Mayor's Court and Hobart City Corporation.

The Mercury 19 September 1879

A few of the chestnut trees that were some time ago planted on the footpaths around the Town Hall are determined, in spite of adverse circumstances, to keep in existence - but only a few. We sincerely regret that these trees are allowed to wither and perish for the want of an occasional watering, which might be done by the Town Hall caretaker, if indeed, he does not consider pastime of that character positively infra dignitatem. It would, we feel sure, be a source of gratification to that functionary, as a result of any little forethought in that direction, to see all the trees around his residence putting forth such evidence of life and vigour as one solitary tree in front of the Hall is now doing, while an additional recompense would be the knowledge that the rate-payers had proof that they had a suitable man to take care of their property. Perhaps a word from His Worship the Acting-Mayor (Mr. Harcourt) would have the desired effect, and save the trees from perishing, when Nature is not so bountiful with her refreshing showers, as at present.
These photographs (detailed) were taken of the Town Hall about the same time.

Above: Detail
State Library NSW
Views of Tasmania, ca. 1879-1885 / photographs by Anson Bros.
1879-1881 NumberPXA 504

Picket fence tree boxes but no trees, 1878, in front of the Hobart Town Hall.
Below: one fragile sapling in the middle box (?) ca. 1879.

Above: detail of the photographs (see below). Tasmania may well have experienced drought in the year 1879, an event which would have been much less obvious to the population than drought is to us now.

Tensions within the local population were running high in June 1879 when Thomas Nevin was sworn in as Special Constable to maintain the peace during the visit and lecture at the Town Hall by the Canadian lapsed Catholic priest, Charles Chiniquy. Mention of this fact was made in the report which appeared in The Mercury December 4, 1880, of Nevin's dismissal from his position at the Town Hall for inebriation while on duty some eighteen months later:

BY THE MAYOR: Witness had never been sworn in to act as a special constable except on the occasion of the disturbances which arose during the visit of Pastor Chiniquy ...

Read the full article [pdf]
Swearing in Special Constables
The Mercury, 28 June 1879, page 3

The Mercury reporters by September 1879 had published several attacks on the mismanagement of the Town Hall by the City Corporation, some specifically directed at Superintendent Richard Propsting working from The Municipal Police Office housed within the building. The attacks centred on his lack of action in controlling the Chiniquy riots which took place there in June 1879. Thomas Nevin as both the Hall keeper and a special constable sworn in 28 June 1879 was also a primary target for criticism, though both men were not without their supporters.

This pledge of support expressing total confidence in Superintendent Propsting appeared in The Mercury on 8th July 1879. A few months later, Richard Propsting resigned. Nevin was the continued target of attack, resulting in his dismissal from the position of Town Hall caretaker in December 1880, though retained as police photographer by the Municipal Police Office for another decade.

Click on images for readable version
Above: pledge of support, The Mercury 8 July 1879
Below: Supt Richard Propsting, 1879.

Nevin's MPO supervisor,
Superintendent Richard Propsting
Unattributed, MPO 1879
AOT Ref: 30-282c

Click on image for readable version
Above: Nevin's dismissal reported in The Mercury, 8 December 1880.

The Town Hall Keeper position was not well-paid nor in any respect especially important in any case. The salary in 1875 when Nevin was appointed was "30 shillings per week with free quarters, fuel and light". Nevin left the job probably relieved of the opportunity to resume his photographic career with his friend, commercial photographer H.H. Baily, and concentrate on his other interests which were more financially rewarding.

Above: Nevin's appointment as Town Hall keeper,
The Mercury, 29 December 1875

NEVIN's VIEW of The Mercury Offices across the street from the upstairs rooms at the Town Hall. His residency lasted five years (1876-1880).

Courtesy State Library Tasmania
View of Macquarie St Hobart and Mercury Offices
from Town Hall ca. 1878


These photographs reveal that trees in front of the Town Hall did not exist in 1875 when Nevin was appointed Keeper. To expect saplings to be full-grown chestnuts by mid 1879 was an absurd criticism to level at the caretaker, and indicative that the real reason for the reporter's criticism was not the state of the trees but the caretaker himself as a man with an infra dignitatem attitude.

No trees in front of the Town Hall in this view from the Town Hall fence towards The Mercury Offices.

The fence of the site of the Hobart Town Hall ca. 1860.
Stereo attributed to Samuel Clifford,
State Library of Tasmania,
Ref: AUTAS001125643312

Still no trees in front of the Town Hall in this view attributed to H.H. Baily.

Town Hall Hobart Town 1875,
H.H. Baily photo
W.L. Crowther Library
ADRI: AUTAS001124850751

Fenced tree boxes but no trees in front of the Town Hall. This view and the one below are attributed to the Anson Brothers.

Town Hall & Public Library
Anson Bros Date: ca. 1878
Description: 1 photograph : sepia toned ; 105 X 180 mm.
Notes: View taken from the corner of Macquarie and Elizabeth Streets.
Location: W.L. Crowther Library
ADRI: AUTAS001127111730

Courtesy State Library of Tasmania
Macquarie Street looking west / [photographed by Anson Brothers, Hobart]
Source: W.L. Crowther Library

No trees. Hobart Town Hall with figure at front, possibly the keeper Thomas Nevin
No date, possibly 1876-80, unattributed, half of stereo?
Archives Office of Tasmania
Ref: PH612 high resolution image

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Julia Clark: A Question of Stupidity & the NLA

Cardboard Convictism
This photograph (below) of a cardboard convict was taken by us for this blog at Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney, NSW on the 4th March 2009 (EXIF 2009.03.04) at 16.15 pm with a Canon Powershot SX110 IS.

Cardboard convict
Hyde Park Barracks Sydney, NSW
Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2009 ARR

Theft of our photo on Bob Mainwaring's book cover
Photo copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2012 ARR

Our photograph of the Hyde Park Barracks cardboard convict was stolen from this blog and published on the cover of a book titled Exiled to the Colonies 1835 by Bob Mainwaring. We spotted the book with our photograph on the cover at Hobart Airport and took this photograph (above) of it on the bookstand on 4th October 2012 (EXIF 2012-10-04) at 09.27 am using a Canon Powershot SX110 IS. The publishers had NOT acknowledged our copyright, nor sought our permission to use the photograph. They were issued with an Australian Copyright Council notice of violation, and the book was re-issued with a new cover without our photograph, and without due apology to this blog.

NOW READ on about this other copyright abuser of our intellectual property ...

The A. H. Boyd fake attribution
If Adolarious Humphrey Boyd (1827-1891) were alive today, he would be very surprised indeed to read the claim by one of his descendants in 1983 that he was the photographer of the 300+ extant Tasmanian prisoners' photographs taken in the 1870s by contractor T. J. Nevin now held in public collections.

A. H., Boyd's death. FATAL ACCIDENT AT FRANKLIN. (1891, November 24).
The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954), p. 3.

Mr Boyd, Stipendary Magistrate, was thrown from his horse and killed shortly after 5 o'clock this evening. He left the Court-house here at 5 o'clock for his home at Jackson's Point, and when about a quarter of a mile on his way, his horse threw him and he was killed.
Mr. Adolarius Humphrey Boyd was very widely known, having held many public appointments. He was for some time Commandant at Port Arthur when the prisoners were located there, and was also Superintendent of the Orphan Asylum at New Town. Afterwards he held the office of Stipendiary Magistrate, Commissioner of the Court of Requests, etc., at Emu Bay, and since the death of Mr. E. H. Walpole filled the same offices at Franklin. His duties included the holding of Courts at Port Cygnet, Port Esperance, Southport, Huonville, and Geeveston, as well as at Franklin, and only recently he held the preliminary inquiry into the Waterwitch murder, and read the burial service over the unfortunate victim. His name was inserted on the Com-mission of the Peace on May 22, 1871, and a week later he was gazetted a coroner. He leaves a widow and four children, the first named being a sister to the late Mr. Justice Giblin, and daughter of the late Mr. William Giblin, of Lenaker.
This is the obituary for the Tasmanian penal administrator A.H. Boyd, published in the Hobart Mercury 24 November 1891. There is no mention of photography because A.H. Boyd was NOT a photographer: he has never been documented in newspapers or validated in any other publicly available contemporary document as either an amateur or official photographer of the prisoners held at the Port Arthur prison during his service there between 1871 and 1873. He was certainly NOT the photographer of Tasmanian prisoners between 1872-1886, the years when commercial photographer and civil servant Thomas J. Nevin, with his brother Constable John Nevin, were employed by the Municipal Police Office and Hobart Gaol to photograph offenders on arrest, arraignment and discharge.

However, for the duration of his public service, especially from the mid 1860s to the 1880s, the Hobart Mercury published dozens of articles and readers' letters protesting at Adolarious Humphrey Boyd's bullying treatment of employees. His treatment of surveyor W. C. Piguenit was brutal and reported at length in 1873. A. H. Boyd's promotion above others who were far more deserving such as Hobart Gaol Keeper Ringrose Atkins was due entirely to the favours extended to him by his brother-in-law (and Thomas Nevin's family solicitor) Attorney-General W. R. Giblin.

In his own words
When appearing in front of the Tasmanian House of Assembly Commission into Penal Discipline on 18th January 1875, A. H. Boyd, Superintendent of the Cascades Establishment (Women's Prison), gave this outline of duties performed during his career. He made no mention of photographing prisoners because he neither photographed them personally, nor did he oversee their production at any time. He may have handled prisoners' photographs on rap sheets and in Gaol Photo Books when in his possession as superintendent but seeing them is not the same as actually making photographs. Boyd failed to mention when questioned by the Commission that he was dismissed from the position of Superintendent at the Orphan School, New Town in 1864 because of his misogynistic bullying of women employees; the complaint was lodged by "the board of ladies" presided over by Mrs. C. Meredith and upheld with Boyd's subsequent dismissal.

A. H. Boyd's account of his official duties in his own words
Tasmanian House of Assembly Report of Commission into Penal Discipline, August 1875, pp2-3

Clark's beggarly blustering on the NLA catalogue
More tourism propaganda about A.H. Boyd from this solipsistic, barefaced plagiarist and disgraced former "Interpretations manager" called Julia Clark at the Port Arthur Historic Site has now appeared on the NLA catalogues against T. J. Nevin's accessioned and long-standing accreditation as the professional photographer of Tasmanian prisoner mugshots - or "Convicts - Tasmania - Port Arthur - Portraits, 1874" as the NLA calls them (as at May 2010).


Title Charles Hayes, per Moffat, taken at Port Arthur, 1874 [picture].
Description No photographer name or studio stamp appears on these photographs.
Formerly attributed to Thomas J. Nevin, the portraits are now considered more likely to have been taken by A.H. Boyd. See: Julia Clark. A question of attribution: Port Arthur's convict portraits in Journal of Australian Colonial History, Vol 12, 2010, p77-97.; Part of collection: Convict portraits, Port Arthur, 1874.; Title from inscription on verso.; Inscription: "75 ; Charles Hayes, per Moffat [?], taken at Port Arthur, 1874"--In ink on verso.; Condition: Some foxing.; Also available in an electronic version via the Internet at:
Subject Hayes, Charles -- Portraits.
Subject Convicts -- Tasmania -- Port Arthur -- Portraits.
Publisher 1874.
Image number nla.pic-vn4506217
Contributor Boyd, A. H. (Aldolarius Humphrey), 1829-1891..

This dead-end anomaly about Boyd was first raised on our weblogs back in 2005. Clark has had five years to come up with factual evidence: "considered more likely... " is not evidence, it is more evidence that there IS NO EVIDENCE. There never was an historical event where some one called A.H. Boyd photographed prisoners in Tasmania in the 1870s-1880s.

In her own words (and very few in this article ARE her own words apart from the archaeological fictions), Clark states clearly that there is NO official record of A.H. Boyd taking prisoners' photographs, yet she persists in arguing his case:

Clark JACHS 2010 p90

Clark, p. 90, JACHS 2010
Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2010 ARR

With craven dishonesty, Clark has the National Library technicians responsible for this egregious and capricious act of misattribution eating out of her hand. She firstly pushed onto them a pointless and irrelevant essay in 2007, the objective of which was to attack and discredit Nevin through his descendants, and now with this "article" which she hopes will mislead the public sufficiently into backing her bet" on A.H. Boyd. To poor Julia Clark, the issue is all about descendants, so the question has to be asked: is she descendant from a convict, is this green-eyed resentment masking the sting of the "convict stain" which motivates her malice? Or is she just a bully, hence the Boyd fascination?

Clark JACHS 2010 p83

Clark, JACHS 2010, p83
Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2010 ARR

Look carefully at this excerpt from page 83 of the Journal of Australian Colonial History 2010.
Today, descendants of Thomas J. Nevin make public and very strident claims that their ancestor was responsible for this famous work
Clark wishes to imply that T. J. Nevin's descendants are solely responsible for this attribution to Nevin as the photographer of the 300 or so extant Tasmanian convict mugshots in public collections when nothing of the sort in fact took place. Thomas J. Nevin's accreditation originated from relevant 19th century Tasmanian Treasury and Supreme Court archival records, and has been acknowledged and cited throughout the 20th century from public collections' accession records by creditable researchers. Clark makes no mention of course of the extensive print based articles and citations by authorities way above her ability and status who readily assigned accreditation to T. J. Nevin as the ONLY government contracted photographer in their thoroughly researched published articles, books and online references. And she makes no mention of course of the extent to which she has scraped and plagiarised our work which has analysed the misattribution on these Nevin family weblogs at various main URLS since 2005, e.g. - (moved to Google in 2006); ---

Ms Clark has gorged herself on every topic/idea put forward on these weblogs since 2005 and re-presented them as her own, with no acknowledgment other than this pathetic little cock-a-snook. Her theft of our research has put her on notice to her publisher, the JACHS, to repress the article from online distribution, not least because of its laughable errors; to her PhD supervisor Hamish Maxwell-Stewart; and to the Director at the University of Tasmania to suspend her candidacy. The Australian Copyright Council has been aware of Clark since 2009 when we placed more and more information with finer detail onto the weblogs and became aware of exactly what she was copying and downloading. We have no article posted on the date she cites (above) - 6 September 2009 - but most of our research concerning the Mitchell Library prisoner photographs by T. J. Nevin we had placed online by August 2009, together with snippets of relevant police records, which were then extensively plagiarised by Clark for the last half of her article. Read the sidebars here for our copyright remits.

Gossip, gambling and gleaning are the cornerstone of Clark's evidence and argument : she offers "anecdotal" evidence which was "gleaned" from A.H. Boyd descendants who "confidently recognise the images as his", sufficient to lay her "bet" on A.H. Boyd.

Clark, JACHS 2010, p.89
Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2010 ARR

See also this critique by Tim Causer, Bentham Project, University College London.

Thomas J. Nevin and descendants are apparently one of the more recent examples in a long line of Clark's personal targets. See this article on her MO in Hobart museums by M. Anderson. Clark's attack on the "Georgian splendour school of history" is deeply ironic, given that this Commandant A.H. Boyd she so firmly wants to promote as the prisoners' photographer at Port Arthur was just that - a Georgian middle-class gent revelling in the spoils of his own corruption, a renowned bully reviled by the public in his own day. In Kay Daniel's words, Clark's analytical method is hypocritical - it's "the view from the Commandant's verandah school of history" - which she proscribes while pretending solidarity with her target, whether Aborigines or convicts. Of course, "Nevin" is a name to conjure with in Australian culture: Clark has gone for the tall-poppy syndrome tactic of piggy-backing on the name while cutting down the poppy, and that raises questions about her psychological stability.

As Margaret Anderson states, Clark admitted candidly:

We may have overstated the case in our determination to act as an emetic to the genteel antiquarianism of the ‘Georgian splendour’ school of history. We probably did, but the public loved it anyway. Or most of them did. [27]

From M. Anderson,

So there you have it: "to act as as an emetic". Julia Clark, the human suppository, is by her own admission just an irritant. Anderson's comments applaud Clark's use of "strategic political support" and this is Clark 's MO, first and foremost, attacking at the interpersonal level, attacking the establishment (in this case the National Library's long-time accreditation to Thomas J. Nevin) until they incorporate her.

Ignored by Clark is historiography of the problem. The root of the notion that A. H. Boyd had any relationship with photography arose from a children's story forwarded to the Crowther Collection at the State Library of Tasmania in 1942 by its author, Edith Hall, a niece of A.H. Boyd. It was never published, and exists only as a typed story, called "The Young Explorer." Edith Hall claimed in an accompanying letter, dated 1942 and addressed to Dr Crowther that a man she calls the "Chief" in the story was her uncle A. H. Boyd, and that he was "always on the lookout for sitters". Hopeful Chief! The imaginative Edith and her description of a room where the child protagonist was photographed (and rewarded for it) hardly accords with a set-up for police photography.

The so-called "room" set up as a studio is an archaeological fiction now in print as a full-blown fantasy (Clark, JACHS 2010): originally, it was a building constructed in 1865 by an earlier official, Commandant James Boyd (presumed to be no relative of A.H. Boyd) as the Literary Institute for officers and families, of which James Boyd was the founder and president. By the 1890s, this "room" may well have functioned as a place where tourists visiting the prison ruins were photographed, but it was never constructed by A. H. Boyd as a photographic studio designated for the production of prisoner mugshots.

The photographing of prisoners IS NOT mentioned in either the story or the letter by Edith Hall. In the context of the whole story, only three pages in length, this statement is just another in a long list of imaginative and nostalgic fictions intended to give the child reader a "taste" of old Port Arthur, when both the author and her readers by 1942 were at a considerable remove in time. Boyd is not mentioned by name in the story, yet Clark (and before her, Warwick Reeder 1995) actually cite this piece of children's fiction as if it contains statements of factual information. A. H. Boyd has never been documented in newspapers or validated in any government record of the day as either an amateur or official photographer of the prisoners at Port Arthur, or indeed of any subject in any genre.

E.M. Hall. The Young Explorer, typed script courtesy SLTAS
Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2010 ARR

"The Young Explorer" is a tale that has been misinterpreted as the witness account of a five year old when the fact of the matter is that it was orally delivered by a 62 year old woman in 1930 (?) to a literary society meeting, submitted to the Crowther Collection in 1942, and probably transcribed in typescript (again) at an even later date. It is a composite of general details that concord more with the Port Arthur of the 1920s than with the site during its operation in 1873. In short, it is CHILDREN'S FICTION.

The A. H. Boyd misattribution has wasted the time and effort of a generation with an interest in forensic and police photography. The stupidity of Clark and the personality politics of the National Library combined only ensures further waste.


See this article: The PARASITIC ATTRIBUTION to A.H. Boyd

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Excelsior Coal Mine at New Town 1874


Detail: Stereograph of coal mine operation, Kangaroo Valley, 1870s
Photographer: Thos Nevin, New Town (stamped verso).
TMAG Collection Ref: Q16826.11.

1871: Messrs Noble and Smart defrauded
From the notice below, which appeared in the Mercury, February 1871, it would seem that inferior coal or pit refuse from abandoned pits was being sold to the public as the property of the New Town coal mines owned by Messrs Noble and Smart. The fraud included falsified weigh-bridge tickets.

Fraudulent Imposition: Noble and Smart advertisement
Mercury, 4 February 1871

1873-4: Tasmanian coal taken to London
The former Commandant at Port Arthur, James Boyd, incumbent to the position prior to the appointment of A.H. Boyd (who was NOT a photographer), had left Tasmania by the 29th December 1873 on the barque Ethel, bound for England (per The Mercury, 29 Dec 1873). On board were specimens of Tasmanian coal, minerals, blue gum and other specimens of Eucalyptus of interest to the British Royal Colonial Institute. The Ethel was due to arrive in England on April 4th, 1874.

State Library of Victoria
Barque Ethel ca, 1873, New Wharf, Hobart, Tasmania
Identifier(s): Accession no(s) H91.108/2316; H99.220/773
Alan Green Collection Shipping Photographs in Picture Collection.

The Mercury, 8 May 1874
Extract from mail received from the Royal Colonial Institute


"... through the exertions of the corresponding secretary of the Institute in Tasmania - Mr Hugh Munro Hull - a valuable contribution to the museum has been despatched from that colony, consisting of specimens of its coal ...
"It will be remembered that Mr. and Mrs. [James] Boyd, late Commandant of Port Arthur, were passengers by the Ethel."
The year 1874 was a busy one for Thomas Nevin. He was under contract to the Municipal Police Office and Prisons Department to provide mugshots of prisoners received and discharged at the Hobart Gaol for the MPO registers, photo books and police gazettes at the Town Hall, while continuing to operate full-time as a commercial photographer from his studio at 140 Elizabeth-Street in Hobart. His second child, Thomas James "Sonny" Nevin, was born on 16th April 1874. His membership of the Loyal United Brothers' Lodge annual Anniversary Ball committee entailed the provision of photographic services on the night of the ball, and extended to placing advertisements in The Mercury to procure professional services for Lodge members and their family, including medical services. And he worked closely with the printers at the Hobart newspaper offices of The Mercury, producing miniature photographs of the front pages for sale as Christmas visiting cards (measuring 3 inches x 2 inches).

1874: Sims and Stops' Coal Mine

Horse-drawn whim at Mr Sim's Excelsior Coal Mine, Kangaroo Valley, New Town, Tasmania
Stereograph on arched buff mount by Thomas J. Nevin, 1870s
"Thos Nevin New Town" studio stamp on verso
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection
TMAG Ref: Q16826.11

Verso: Horse-drawn whim at Mr Sim's Excelsior Coal Mine, Kangaroo Valley, New Town, Tasmania
Stereograph on arched buff mount by Thomas J. Nevin, 1870s
"Thos Nevin New Town" studio stamp on verso
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection
TMAG Ref: Q16826.11

Thomas Nevin was a city agent for coal deliveries from Messrs Sims and Stops coal mine, located at Kangaroo Valley New Town, close to the family farm where John Nevin snr had built their cottage and orchards on land in trust to the Wesleyan church above the Lady Franklin Museum.  The Nevin family were closely associated (related even) to the Hurst family of surveyors resident of New Town and the Saltwater coal mines (on the Tasman peninsula). As stakeholders in the coal business, and probably shareholders in several other profitable businesses, Thomas Nevin, unlike several other members of his photographers' cohort in Tasmania and Victoria, escaped bankruptcy when they didn't (e.g. Alfred Bock, George Cherry, Stephen Spurling, Harold Riise, and Charles Nettleton in Victoria etc), and managed to keep his wife and children (six survived to adulthood) in comfortable circumstances.

Mr Nevin, photographer, Elizabeth-street, appears in this advertisement as an agent able to take orders for the delivery of coal from the Excelsior Coal Mine which was located on Mr Ebenezer Sims property at Kangaroo Bottom (Kangaroo Valley New Town), in close proximity to the home of Nevin's parents. This coal was for domestic use but may have been included in the coal specimens which were exported to the Royal Colonial Institute, accompanied by James Boyd on board the Ethel in 1874.

The Mercury, 22 December 1874
... N.B. - When from the situation a second horse is necessary, a small extra charge will be made.
ORDERS will be received by the undermentioned persons:-
Mr Nevin, photographer, Elizabeth-street ...
Members of the Stops family were close friends of Thomas Nevin and his father John Nevin snr at Kangaroo Valley. Frederick Stops was clerk to the Attorney-General  W.R. Giblin when Nevin was the contractual photographer for police and prisons records for Giblin. His brother Henry Stops was an orchardist living at New Town until his death in 1908, and leasee of Mr Ebenenzer's coal mine. Ebenezer Sims' coal mines and other property at Kangaroo Bottom had been advertised for sale earlier, in January 1874, and the "late Mr E. Sims" was presumably departed from the partnership with Mr. Stops, or even deceased. However, the Excelsior Coal Mine continued to operate on his property and in his name, together with the stakeholders and agents listed in the advertisement with Nevin's name:

The Mercury, FOR SALE, 23 January 1874
Auction advertisement for the sale of the late Mr E. Sim's coal mines leased to Mr H. Stops at Kangaroo Bottom.

1883: dense basaltic dykes

The Mercury 23 December 1883:

"Mr Ebenezer Sim's coal mine ... is wrought by means of a horse-whim ..."
A lengthy geological report was published in The Mercury, 23 December 1883, on the coal mines and seams around Mt Wellington, including a description of the methods of mining at Mr Ebenezer Sim's Excelsior Coal Mine and an account of the formation of anthracite, shale and sandstone in the Kangaroo Valley area.

RELATED POSTS main weblog

Stereograph of coal mine operation, Kangaroo Valley, 1870s
Photographer: Thos Nevin, New Town (stamped verso).
TMAG Collection Ref: Q16826.11. Taken at the TMAG November 10, 2014.
Photos © KLW NFC Imprint ARR

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Husbands and Wives NPG Exhibition 2010

An exhibition of early colonial portraits titled HUSBANDS and WIVES has recently opened at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra Australia. Apart from the usual collection of cartes-de-visite, there are several daguerreotypes and ambrotypes of individuals, couples and family groups on display, including the coloured ambrotype by Thomas Glaister, ca. 1858 (below, from the NPG online).

Ambrotypes typically have a dark background, and daguerreotypes typically reflect light from the metal on which the image is fixed, rendering these two types of photographs difficult to view in natural light; the former is often too dark and the latter too bright and mirror-like. They are even more difficult to appreciate in a gallery context which might maintain adherence to industry-standard lighting but which ignores the very special requirements of lighting, placement on walls or in cabinets behind glass, and distance at which the spectator is kept from these two types of early photographs. The National Gallery has made no effort to overcome these long-standing problems in this exhibition, resulting in a less than happy visitor experience.

Above: Ambrotype by Thomas Glaister ca 1858
Exhibition, Husbands and Wives, NPG Canberra 2010

Watch the News Item on the exhibition:
VIDEO: ABC news online

The carte-de-visite portraits below by Thomas J. Nevin of himself with stereoscope (1865), his fiancee Elizabeth Rachel Day (1865), and of his wedding day with his bride Elizabeth Rachel (1871) were not in the exhibition, but one photograph on display has a connection with Nevin.

Titled "Married Couple with Dog" it features the carpet which Nevin had acquired from Alfred Bock by 1867, along with their studio and glass house at the City Photographic Establishment, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart. The same carpet can be seen (below, right) in the solo portrait of Nevin's fiancee Elizabeth Rachel Day, taken ca. 1865. Nevin began an apprenticeship with Bock in early 1863 and succeeded to the business on Alfred Bock's sudden departure (due to insolvency) to Victoria in 1867.

The question then arises as to the attribution of the item titled "Married Couple with Dog". Further questions arise around the information provided by the NPG exhibition about this Alfred Bock photograph (borrowed from the NGA Collection). The accompanying commentary on a white card placed next to the photograph asserts that Alfred Bock's father Thomas Bock was a daguerreotypist, but in The Mercury on 22 May 1900 Alfred Bock claimed that his father never took a photograph in his life. The photograph in question is indicated in this TV snapshot (from the ABC news item) below:

Above: TV snapshot (from ABC news item).

The original ...

Alfred BOCK
Hobart Town, Australia 1835 – Wynyard, Tasmania 1920
Movements: 1867 Sale, Victoria 1882 Auckland, New Zealand 1887 Melbourne 1906 Wynyard, Tasmania
(Portrait of a couple with their dog) c.1866
sennotype image 18.4 h x 13.6 w cm 
Purchased 1988
Accession No: NGA 88.1443

The photograph indicated on the wall is the one attributed to Alfred Bock in which the couple are seated on Nevin's carpet. It is the same carpet on which he photographed his bride-to-be, Elizabeth Rachel Day, ca. 1865 (below right):

Left: Thomas J. Nevin, ca. 1865, self-portrait with stereoscope and white gloves
Right: Elizabeth Rachel Day, ca. 1865 taken by Thomas J. Nevin.
Photos and originals © KLW NFC Imprint Private Collection  2010 ARR.

Above (detail) and below:
Husband and Wife, 12 July 1871
T.J. Nevin (1842-1923) and E.R. Day (1847-1914)
Photos and originals © KLW NFC Imprint Private Collection 2010 ARR.

The NEVIN-DAY wedding photograph pictured here placed on the original brown paper in which the family has kept this carte and several others of family members by Thomas Nevin (below).

Photos and originals © KLW NFC Imprint Private Collection 2010 ARR.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Gunner Athol Tennyson Nevin and his WW2 medals

Athol Nevin, known as both Athol Clarence Nevin and Athol Tennyson Nevin, was born to Thomas James "Sonny" Nevin ((1874-1948) and Gertrude Tennyson Bates (1883-1958) at Launceston, Tasmania on 26 October, 1915. He would have known his grandfather, photographer Thomas Nevin who died in 1923 but not his grandmother Elizabeth Nevin who died in 1914.

In 1920 Athol C. Nevin travelled with his parents to California aboard the S.S. Ventura and returned to Sydney in 1922 aboard the S.S. Sonama. He was listed as a passenger aged 9 yrs in 1920, a citizen of England, which would put his date of birth ca. 1911, but his war record states he was born in 1915. In 1922 on the voyage home he was also listed as a British national.

In 1936 Athol was living in Hobart with his mother Gertrude Nevin nee Tennyson Bates and working as a pastry cook. The Electoral Rolls listed him then with the middle name of "CLARENCE", i.e. Athol Clarence Nevin, but by 1940 when he enlisted in the Australian Army, he had married Winifred Aird and adopted his mother's father's middle name TENNYSON as his middle name. He was discharged from the Army in October 1945, having seen extensive warfare with the 2/8 Field Regiment in Egypt and Syria, in the Middle East, and on Borneo, in the Pacific. The 2/8 FR was one of the 9th Division’s three field regiments and it fought as part of the “famous division” at El Alamein and Brunei Bay.

His father, Thomas James "Sonny" Nevin died in 1948. By 1949, Athol and Winifred Nevin were living in Melbourne and he was working as a storeman (see Electoral Roll for Mitcham, Vic. below).

Noble Numismatics offered seven of his medals at auction (no date). Catalogue Notes:Auction of British Single Medals from the Tom Hanley Collection (n.d. 1987?)

Group of Seven: 1939-45 Star;
Africa Star - one bar - 8th Army;
Pacific Star;
Defence Medal 1939-45;
Australia Service Medal 1939-45;
Efficiency Medal (GVIR) - scroll - Australia - one bar.
TX1452 A.T. Nevin on the first six medals,
TX1452 Gnr A.T. Nevin A.M.F. on the seventh medal.
The first six medals impressed, the seventh medal engraved. Very fine.

Gunner Athol Tennyson Nevin,Enl.13 May 1940 Disch.02 Oct 1945.

Australian War Memorial
Australian World War 2 records currently list Athol as ATHOL TENNYSON NEVIN.
WW2 Service Records for Athol Tennyson Nevin


PHOTOS of 2/8 Regiment at the AWM include this one of a gunner

ID number050259

2/8th Field Regiment
Formed in Australia during the first year of the Second World War, the 2/8th Field Regiment served in Egypt and Syria, in the Middle East, and on Borneo, in the Pacific. It was one of the 9th Division’s three field regiments and it fought as part of the “famous division” at El Alamein and Brunei Bay.
Throughout 1940, as the size of the Second Australian Imperial Force (AIF) increased from one to four infantry divisions, new artillery units were also continuously raised –15 field regiments were raised by the end of the year. Among these were the 9th Division’s 2/7th, 2/8th, and 2/12th Field Regiments.
Men for the 2/8th initially came from Australia’s eastern states. The regiment’s 15th Battery was raised at the start of May 1940 and the 16th Battery was raised two weeks later. In October 1941, while the regiment was in the Middle East, artillery units were reorganised and a new battery, the 58th Battery, was formed.
The regiment did its initial training using 18-pounder guns and 4.5-inch howitzers. In the middle of November the regiment left Australia for the Middle East and arrived in Egypt in the middle of December, before moving to Palestine. Southern Palestine was being used as a base for the Australians, where they could complete their training, and the 2/8th went into camp at Kilo 89.
In March 1941 the 9th Division was brought from Palestine to Libya, to garrison the area east of Tobruk, but the division did not have enough vehicles to bring all of its units forward towards. Consequently, the 2/8th did not go forward with the infantry and instead contributed to the force defending Mersa Matruh fortress. The regiment received its first 25-pounders at Matruh, where it remained from May until the end of September. The regiment then moved to Sidi Barrani, where it helped to prepare the defences. The gunners left Sidi Barrani in October and returned to Palestine, where they rejoined the 9th Division. In January 1942 the Australians moved to Syria, where the 2/8th built gun sites along the high positions overlooking the coast at Jdaide.
By July the war in North Africa had become critical for the Allies, with German and Italian forces reaching El Alamein, in Egypt, about 112 kilometres west of Alexandria. The 9th Division was rushed to the Alamein “box” and held the northern sector for almost four months. It was Alamein where the 2/8th “came of age”. The regiment reached the Alamein front on 5 July, taking up position at Ruweisat Ridge, and were in action five days later.
Attacking inland from the coast, the division’s 26th Brigade attacked the German positions at Tel el Eisa on 10 July. The attack was supported by all three of the division’s regiments, with the 2/8th being involved in the heavy fighting between 10 and 12 July, as the Germans counter-attacked. On one occasion the 2/8th fired 1,250 artillery shells in one hour and a half. When the division’s 24th Brigade made its attack towards the Ruin Ridge, on 17 July, the 2/8th was again heavily involved in the action and remained so for the rest of the month. Casualties were heavy, with the 2/8th having the highest figures of the field regiments.The 2/8th remained in action, supporting operation Bulimba, the 20th Brigade’s attack at the start of September, and the main Alamein offensive at the end of October and the start of November.
Alamein was a vital success for the Allies and one of the war’s turning points. The 9th Division, however, was needed elsewhere and in January 1943 began returning to Australia. The 2/8th arrived in Melbourne on 24 February and was given leave before moving to Queensland in April.
The gunners spent the next “two long and frustrating years” in northern Australia, training first at Kiri and then Ravenshoe, on the Atherton Tablelands. Indeed, the war was almost over before the regiment again went into action.
In April 1945 the division was transported to Morotai, which was being used as a staging area for the Oboe operations on Borneo. The 2/8th moved to Morotai in May, where they received several 75 mm howitzers, in addition to their 25-pounders.
With troops having already made an amphibious landing on Tarakan in May, the rest of the division landed on Labuan Island and Brunei Bay on 10 June. Coming ashore in landing craft, the 2/8th supported the 20th Brigade as it pushed inland. There was little Japanese resistance, though, and during the campaign the gunners were mainly confined to defensive and harassing fire tasks. On 20 June the 58th Battery landed on Lutong, Sawarka, in support of the 2/13th Battalion.
Following the end of the war and Japan’s surrender, the ranks of the regiment thinned, as men were discharged or transferred. In mid-November the gunners not due for discharge were transferred to the 2/4th Pioneer Battalion, as part of Kuching Force. Those left in the regiment returned to Australia in December and the following month, on 30 January 1946, the 2/8th Field Regiment was disbanded.

Title: 2/8 Australian Field Regiment Remembers World War II 1930 - 1945
Author: Morton, C and M
Edition: 1st Edition
Publisher: 2/8th Australian Field Regiment Association
Publication Date: 1992

Related Biographica

Above: Athol C. Nevin, student travelling with his parents to California
from Sydney aboard the S.S. Ventura 1920 (aged 9 yrs or aged 5 yrs?)

Above: Passengers Thomas, Gertrude and Athol Nevin
Returning from California aboard the S.S. Sonoma, 24 November 1922

Above: The Electoral Roll for Mitcham, Victoria 1949
Athol Tennyson Nevin, storeman
Winifred Aird Nevin, home duties

Addenda: AWM and NAA Records
Australian War Memorial Service Record
Service Australian Army
Service Number TX1452
Date of Birth 26 Oct 1915
Place of Birth LAUNCESTON, TAS
Date of Enlistment 13 May 1940
Locality on Enlistment SANDY BAY, TAS
Place of Enlistment BRIGHTON CAMP, TAS
Date of Discharge 2 Oct 1945
Rank Gunner
Posting at Discharge 2/8 FIELD REGIMENT
WW2 Honours and Gallantry None for display
Prisoner of War No
Copyright Commonwealth of Australia 2002.

National Archives of Australia
Service Number – TX1452 :
Date of birth – 26 Oct 1915 :
Place of birth – LAUNCESTON TAS :
Place of enlistment – BRIGHTON CAMP TAS :
Series number B883
Control symbol TX1452
Contents date range 1939 – 1948

On board the "City of Hobart" 31st January 1872