Saturday, June 9, 2012

Posing with a stereoscopic viewer

Clients of early photographers were not the only ones to pose with the photographer's own stereoscopic viewers. Two extant cartes-de-visite self-portraits by Thomas J. Nevin from The Nevin Family Collections captured his treasured stereoscopes, one with him holding a small viewer, possibly a Brewster, ca. 1868, and another with him standing next his large table-top stereoscopic viewer, possibly a Beckers (ca 1875).


Above: Tasmanian Photographer T.J. Nevin ca, 1868 in white gloves with stereoscopic viewer.
Photo © KLW NFC and The Nevin Family Collections ARR

Thomas J. Nevin 1870s with tabletop stereo viewer

Above: Tasmanian Photographer T.J. Nevin ca, 1875 standing next to a tabletop stereoscopic viewer. Photo © KLW NFC and The Nevin Family Collections ARR

Of all the extant photographs taken by Thomas J. Nevin of clients posing in his studio with his tabletop stereoscopic viewer, this one of an unidentified pregnant woman, taken ca 1873 from the Liam Peters Collection is undoubtedly the most arresting:

Pregnant woman with stereo viewer by T.Nevin 1870s

Pregnant woman with stereo viewer by T.Nevin 1870s

Above: hand coloured full length cdv of a pregnant woman standing next to the same big box stereoscopic viewer and table with the griffin-shaped legs which feature in five extant studio portraits by Nevin of clients, of himself and family members. The verso bears Nevin's most common commercial studio stamp "T. Nevin late A. Bock, City Photographic Establishment 140 Elizabeth Street Hobart Town" etc etc and dates to ca. 1871-1874. Courtesy of © The Liam Peters Collection 2010. All rights reserved.

From the QVMAG Collection
Ref: 1985_P_0008

Above: this photograph of a young woman with her hand lightly resting on the table holding a similar tabletop stereo viewer to those in Nevin's full-length cdvs, was hand-tinted a light blue on her hair ribbon, and transcribed verso "Harriet Cross, aged 21." It bears the mount and studio stamp of Nevin's close friend, Henry Hall Baily, 94 Liverpool St., Hobart. and probably dates to 1880.

The photographic apparatus included within and completing the subject's pose was intended to signify a middle-class relationship with up-to-date technology and the stereographic entertainments the apparatus provided. The pose became a convention of 1870s studio portraiture, viz. these examples from British photographers:

Above: Edward Reeves (1824-1905), a former watchmaker, established his photographic studio at 159 High Street, Lewes in 1858.
Source: Antique Photographica

Above: Unattributed. Woman with stereoscopic viewer Antique Photographica


Dr David Drewster stereo with stereo viewer

Above: Dr David Brewster with his invention
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

Above: Carte-de-visite placed inside an album leaf frame of a senior Freemason
wearing an apron and large lapel medal.
Photographed ca. 1874 in Thomas Nevin' studio,
posed next to Nevin's tabletop stereograph viewer. Verso is blank.
From © The Lucy Batchelor Collection 2009 Arr
Courtesy Peter and Robyn Bishop

Above: Portrait of young man with stereoscopic viewer by Thomas Nevin ca. 1874.
Verso has T.J. Nevin stamp incorporating the Royal Arms government insignia of lion and unicorn rampant.
Scans courtesy of © The Private Collection of John and Robyn McCullagh 2006 -2009. ARR.


French tabletop viewer 1870s

French tabletop viewer 1870s

These examples were on the market recently. The notes below are from the seller's website:

French TABLE TOP VIEWER for glass or paper views in the standard size (approx. 7” x 3.25”) circa 1870’s. The viewer comes with three cassettes that can be exchanged internally. Each cassette will hold 96 views back to back in 48 holders, The viewer measures 11” x 10” at the base and 20” high. The original key is included in the lot. Excellent original condition throughout.Winning Bid: $ 800

Beckers tabletop viewer 1870s
Very elegant floor standing STEREOSCOPIC VIEWER by Alexander BECKERS, circa 1870’s. It measures approximately 50” high. An interior paper label indicates Patent dates of May 29, 1866 and January 25, 1870. The viewer has focusing lenses either side and is usually mistakenly called a “Sweetheart” viewer. It holds approximately 800 views back to back in 400 wire holders. The belt is in good shape and everything works as it should. The optics too are first rate. The top viewer and the base are of two different woods as illustrated. It is possible it was a marriage at some point in it’s history. The most significant thing about this particular viewer is that it belonged to Alexander Beckers and came to this auction via his 85 year old granddaughter. A cabinet card of Alexander Beckers and his family is included in the lot. Refer Wing, page 67 for an illustration of a similar viewer. On page 62 there is a stereo view of the Beckers family for comparison.
Winning Bid: $ 5,750


Friday, June 8, 2012

Thomas Nevin's stereos of sister Mary Ann at New Town rivulet

MARY ANN NEVIN (1844-1878)
Brothers Thomas James and Jack (William John) Nevin arrived in Tasmania in 1852 as children with parents Mary and John Nevin, and two sisters, Mary Ann and Rebecca Jane. The family settled at Kangaroo Valley (now Lenah Valley) near the Lady Franklin Museum. Neither sister lived to see the 20th century. For a fuller biography, see this article.


Mary Ann Nevin (1844-1878), sister of Thomas J. Nevin,
dipping a glass at New Town rivulet, Kangaroo Valley Hobart Tasmania, ca. 1870.
Salt paper stereograph taken by Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1870
Photo © KLW NFC Imprint 2012

Stereograph of Mary Ann Nevin by her brother Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1870 taken at Kangaroo Valley near the school in the company of an adult male and children. TMAG Collection Ref: Q16826-1-2


Walch's Tasmanian Guide 1871

From Walch's Tasmanian Guide 1871
Copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2012

Stereograph ca, 1870 by Thomas Nevin of a group visiting Lady Franklin’s Museum, Ancanthe, Kangaroo Valley, Tasmania. TMAG Ref: Q1994-56-34.


Lady Franklin Museum Kangaroo (Lenah) Valley

The bridge in the foreground crosses the rivulet. The Lady Franklin Museum sits below the site where John Nevin built his cottage (now demolished), next to the house (pictured) above on the rise at 270A Lenah Valley Rd.

New Town rivulet Lenah Valley

New Town rivulet Lenah Valley

New Town rivulet Lenah Valley

New Town rivulet Lenah Valley

Photos © KLW NFC Imprint 2012 ARR

Thomas J. Nevin's carte-de-visite of of his sister Mary Ann, bears slight tinting of the cheeks.

Thomas Nevin's portrait of his sister ca. 1873, Mary Ann Nevin (1844-1878)
Carte-de-visite format pasted on cardboard. Verso bears Thomas Nevin's studio stamp, "T. Nevin, City Photographic Establishment, 140, Elizabeth Street, Hobart Town".
Copyright © KLW NFC Imprint ARR 2005 -2012 ARR. Watermarked.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Childhood photos of son George and daughter Minnie Nevin

CHILDREN of Thomas & Elizabeth NEVIN, 1872-1888
Photographer Thomas James Nevin married Elizabeth Rachel Day in July 1871 at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley, Hobart. Seven children were born between 1872 and 1888, six of whom survived to adulthood.

children of Thomas Nevin 1872 to 1888

The Tasmanian Archives and Heritage Office (TAHO) received copies of photographs from the estate of Mary Ann Drew, known to the Nevin family as Minnie, donated by V. Hooper of the funeral directors firm Hooper & Burgess, on the 30th August 1974. The photographs were enlarged black and white copies from a family album, and were most likely prepared by Mr V. Hooper for Minnie Drew's funeral service which was conducted on 14 September 1974 at her residence in Mt Stuart, Hobart.

Minnie Drew nee Nevin burial srct

Southern Cemeteries burial record; Mary Ann Drew nee Nevin, known as Minnie, 14 September 1974, aged 89 yrs.
Minnie Nevin was born on 11 November 1884.

MINNIE NEVIN (1884-1974)
The photographer of the original photos was not recorded by the TAHO in 1974, and no studio stamp is evident of the recto of each copy. As the original family album from which they were copied has yet to come to light, the photographer attribution can be adduced from the date of the sittings - 1884 - when Thomas J. Nevin registered Minnie's birth signed with his profession "photographer, New Town 18th December 1884". The copies deposited at TAHO by the Drew family included two childhood photographs of Thomas and Elizabeth Nevin's daughter Minnie Nevin, and one of son George Nevin.

The earlier one is of Minnie as a 2 year old toddler, wearing a large white bib, probably taken in 1886.

Minnie Nevin ca. 1886

Minnie Nevin, aged 2yrs, ca. 1886
Photograph by her father Thomas Nevin, New Town studio
b&w copy deposited 30/8/1974
Ref: NS434/1/236 Tasmanian Archives Collection (TAHO)

1884:  dismissed from the Town Hall position three years earlier, Thomas Nevin was working from his studio in New Town when he wrote his profession, address and signature as "photographer, New Town, 18 December 1884" on the birth registration of Mary Ann Nevin (1884-1974), known as Minnie to the family and named after Thomas' sister Mary Ann Nevin who died in 1878. Thomas' mother's name was also Mary Nevin.

The later photograph of Minnie Nevin from her estate was taken ca. 1900 as a fifteen year old teenager, seated on a pillar, with a sprig of leaves, and wearing a spotted dress, stockings and boots.

Minnie Nevin ca. 1900

Minnie Nevin, aged 15yrs, ca. 1900
Unattributed, b&w copy deposited 30/8/1974
Tasmanian Archives Collection (TAHO) Ref: NS434/1/230

GEORGE NEVIN (1880-1957)
Thomas J. Nevin was employed principally as the Office Keeper of the Hobart Town Hall for the City Corporation, Mayor's Office and Municipal Police Office when his fourth son George Ernest Nevin was born there in April 1880. First son and namesake Thomas James "Sonny" Nevin was born at Nevin's photographic studio, 140 Elizabeth St Hobart, in 1874. The second son Sydney John Nevin was born at the Hobart Town Hall in October 1876 but died a few months later in January 1877. The third son William John Nevin was also born at the Hobart Town Hall in March 1878 but died in a vehicle accident in 1927.

Southern Cemeteries burial record; George Ernest Nevin , 30 July 1957, aged 77 yrs.
Born at the Hobart Town Hall on 2 April, 1880.

The childhood photograph of George Ernest Nevin, copied from the Drew Family Album and deposited at the Tasmanian Archives Office in 1974 from his sister Minnie Drew's estate, was taken ca. 1885- 6, or in the same sitting as the photograph of Minnie (above) as a 2yr old. George was photographed with short hair, wearing bloomers and jacket, and seated on a wooden horse.

George Nevin ca 1886

George Nevin, aged 6 yrs, ca. 1886
Photograph by his father Thomas Nevin, New Town studio
B&w copy deposited 30/8/1974
Tasmanian Archives Collection (TAHO) Ref: NS434/1/245


Friday, June 1, 2012

A highly coloured portrait

Unidentified woman, seated with sewing
A highly colored carte-de-visite ca. 1872
Taken by T.Nevin late A.Bock, 140 Elizabeth St., Hobart Town
Held at the Archives Office of Tasmania TAHO Ref: PH31/439
Photo © KLW NFC Imprint 2012 ARR

This carte-de-visite is typical of Thomas J. Nevin's ever day photographic activity in his city studio as a commercial portraitist. Although undated, he may have taken it in late 1871 soon after his marriage to Elizabeth Rachel Day and up until the birth of his first child in 1872, since it may have been his wife who worked with him, printing and colouring studio portraits in the small residence, shop, and glass house at 138-140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town (Tasmania).

Elizabeth Rachel Nevin photo by T. Nevin 1871

Cdv of Elizabeth Rachel Nevin nee Day ca. 1871 taken by her husband Thomas J. Nevin.
Her hair ribbons, earrings and brooch exhibit delicate tinting.
Photo © KLW NFC 2012 and The Nevin Family Collections.

In contrast to this portrait of Nevin's wife, the extensively coloured portrait featured of the woman with sewing, which is similar in colouring and execution to several others held in both public and private collections (NLA; TMAG; QVMAG; John McCullagh Collection; Lucy Batchelor Album; G.T. Harrisson Collection; Nevin Family Collections), may have as provenance the same northern Tasmanian family who coloured their family portraits after purchase (see below).

DECOR: the shiny low chair, the table with griffin-shaped legs, tinted flowers and hair ribbons, the draped curtain, the diamond-patterned carpet, and the backdrop of a patterned patio looking out from an Italianate terrace to a vista of a meandering river, characterise this phase or aspect of Nevin's commercial practice. However, his photographic techniques varied widely between 1868 and 1880, from salt paper stereographs of ferns and landscapes, cabinet portraiture, and of course, the police mugshots - aka the "Port Arthur convicts portraits 1874" (QVMAG; NLA; SLNSW etc) for which he is mostly renowned today.

MORE COLOURED CARTES by NEVIN from this period


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