Sunday, May 6, 2012

Samuel Clifford, Thomas Nevin and two cameras

UPDATED 3 July 2012 and 9 March 2013

The DOUGLAS STEWART FINE BOOKS catalogue listing for the stereograph, On Brown's River mentions this article in the following comment:

TASMANIA] On Brown’s River: Samuel Clifford’s camera

CLIFFORD, Samuel (1827-1890)

# 564
Stereoscopic albumen print photograph, early 1860s. Each image 80 x 80 mm. Printed label verso: Views in Tasmania. Bush Scenery. S. Clifford, Photographer, Hobart Town. Inscribed in ink in period hand verso: On Brown’s River. Samuel Clifford’s camera can clearly be seen to the right of the waterfall.
As [this bloghas pointed out (  ) this image should possibly have a double attribution, as Thomas Nevin is known to have accompanied Clifford on photographic excursions and perhaps it was Nevin who photographed Clifford's camera. However, this begs the question: if Nevin (or another photographer) photographed Clifford's camera, why did he not also photograph Clifford standing next to it?

In response, [this blog]'s thoughts on the DSFB's question:
The title "On Brown's River" verso foregrounds the locale, not people, so the bush itself was the intended subject of the image for the prospective viewer (if Clifford had written the title, that is, which he may not have done), and the camera - there were TWO - being the meta information for the viewer about the means of making the image.I note that you have decided the camera was Clifford's but where is the evidence? e.g. you say "Samuel Clifford’s camera can clearly be seen to the right of the waterfall." Where is that information written? I've gone along with this assumption (in the Nevin article) , but I'm clearly not convinced. I maintain that the representation of the photographer(s) in person or their representation by means of their possessions and skills (synecdoche) was not the primary motivation in capturing the scene, hence the absence of Clifford himself from the image, and the absence of any mention of the camera in the title on verso.

This photographer with a camera on Mt Wellington is thought to be Samuel Clifford. This image was scanned from Dan Sprod's book of Victorian and Edwardian Photographs of Hobart; Sprod suggests the photographer pictured was Clifford, so who took the photograph? Again, it was probably Nevin.

The ARTICLE below refers to the stereograph referenced in the comment above.

DOUGLAS STEWART FINE BOOKS LTD HOBART BOOK FAIR was held on February 12 - 13, 2011 with three items on sale pertaining to Thomas J. Nevin's commercial photography.

The first was this stereograph attributed to Samuel Clifford but ostensibly showing Clifford's camera. Who took the photograph? Did Clifford carry two cumbersome cameras with him into this dense bush setting at Brown's River, or was he accompanied - as so often he was around Tasmania - by Nevin? If so, the stereograph deserves the double attribution of Clifford & Nevin, an inscription which appears on several items also held in private collections.

Samuel Clifford stereo of camera

Below: Catalogue detail of image

Samuel Clifford stereo of camera

25. CLIFFORD, Samuel (1827-1890). On Brown’s River: Mr.
Clifford’s camera. Stereoscopic albumen print photograph,
early 1860s. Each image 80 x 80 mm. Printed label verso: Views
in Tasmania. Bush Scenery. S. Clifford, Photographer, Hobart
Town. Inscribed in ink in period hand verso: On Brown’s River.
Samuel Clifford’s camera can clearly be seen to the right of the

Douglas Stewart FB Book Fair Hobart 2011

From the catalogue 
February 12 - 13, 2011

Samuel Clifford's name appears only twice in the weekly police gazettes, called Tasmania Reports of Crimes Information for Police between the years 1866-1880, and in both instances because he was a victim of theft: some silver cutlery and a table cloth were stolen from his house and reported on 17th October 1873, and most heart breaking of all, his camera was stolen while staying at the Wilmot Arms at Green Ponds, in the district where these stereographs of the Salmon Ponds were taken. No doubt Samuel Clifford and Thomas Nevin made many trips to the Green Ponds area, and since Clifford reprinted so many of Nevin's commercial negatives from 1876, placing an accurate date and even a sole attribution to Clifford on the extant albums of views etc is far from straightforward.

Sam Clifford's stolen camera 1878

Notice in the police gazette of 15th November, 1878:
Samuel Clifford's camera stolen from the Wilmot Arms at Green Ponds.

For example, this album bears Samuel Clifford's name, and it was no doubt compiled by Walch's printers and booksellers who sold it to the May family (name inscribed on inside cover) but several photographs in the album are prints from Nevin's original stereographs, eg. this one held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery with his stamp.

T. Nevin stereo TMAG

TMAG Catalogue notes (online until 2006)
Ref: Q1994.56.21
ITEM NAME: Photograph:
MEDIUM: sepia stereoscope salt paper print ,
MAKER: T Nevin [Artist];
DATE: 1870s
DESCRIPTION : Scene near New Norfolk ?
INSCRIPTIONS & MARKS: Impressed on front: T Nevin/ photo

Tasmanian Scenes Clifford and Nevin

Tasmanian Scenes Clifford and Nevin photo KLW NFC 201

Album: Tasmanian Scenes, S. Clifford Photographer
Held at the Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office (TAHO)
Photos © KLW NFC 2012 ARR

Only months prior to the theft of his camera, Samuel Clifford had offered his stock etc for auction, per this notice in The Mercury, 4 March1878:

Samuel Clifford auction March 1878

The second item at the DSFB Book Fair, a stereograph attributed to Clifford of Bothwell school children may also have been taken by Nevin with Clifford in the final week of September 1874, when they were passing through Bothwell, 45 miles north of Hobart. They were enjoined to photograph the procession of Templars attending a large meeting. The newspaper, The Mercury, reported their arrival in the town in a long account of the meeting, published on 26 September, 1874:

Samuel Clifford and Thomas Nevin in Bothwell 1874

Samuel Clifford and Thomas Nevin in Bothwell
The Mercury 26 Sept 1874

The members of the Order, according to their respective lodges then formed in procession outside the building, where a capital photograph was taken by Messrs Clifford and Nevin, photographers of Hobart Town, who were located in the township on a travelling tour. The township was then paraded, the band striking up some lively airs, but a smart shower coming down, the procession was speedily dispersed in every directions in quest of shelter.

Bothwell school children attrib. S. Clifford

The third item for sale at the Douglas Stewart Hobart Book Fair was a pair of albums containing photographs by Thomas J. Nevin, apparently bearing his most common studio stamp verso which included the wording "Late A. Bock" to indicate his succession to Alfred Bock's business and studio at The City Photographic Establishment from 1867 until early 1876. According to notes and information supplied by DSFB, the albums contained -

"140 + family portrait photographs in carte de visite
and cabinet card formats. Identified sitters include William
Barnett of Clifton House, New Norfolk, Tasmania, 1864 /
Anna Barnett, Clifton House, New Norfolk, 2nd daughter of
Thomas & Elizabeth Judd, Franklin, River Huon, 1864; Mr
W.H. Thomas, Agnes Rivulet, Port Cygnet (early 1860s), and
John Hay of Southport."

- and both albums were sold to Huon Valley descendants. Did you buy these albums,or do you know who the lucky buyers were? Scans of the Nevin photographs would be appreciated enormously. Please contact here.

DSFB catalogue Tas family albums 2011


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