Monday, June 24, 2013

Two couples, two dogs by A. Bock and T. Nevin

Middle-aged couple with dog
Hand-tinted carte-de-visite by Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1870
Copyright © KLW NFC Imprint Private Collection 2013 ARR

Alfred BOCK [photographer]
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

This sennotype (above) by Alfred Bock, titled "Married Couple with Dog" features the carpet which Thomas J. 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) in the solo portrait of Nevin's fiancee Elizabeth Rachel Day, taken ca. 1867 while operating as the firm Nevin & Smith, with partner Robert Smith until 1868. Nevin began an apprenticeship with Alfred Bock in early 1863 and succeeded to the business on Alfred Bock's sudden departure (due to insolvency) to Victoria in 1867.

Elizabeth Rachel Day, Thomas Nevin's fiancee (married 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 2009 ARR Private collection. Watermarked.

The "T. Nevin Late A. Bock" portrait of a middle-aged couple with a dog was hand-tinted by the family who purchased it or by subsequent owners. Such inept colouring was not the work of Nevin himself. His own family portraits show delicate and precise tinting. Other heavily tinted portraits bearing the same studio stamp used by Nevin for commercial portraiture into the early 1870s show the owners' preference for red and violet colours. This portrait  of a couple with dog is unusual in that green and brown colours were used. In all these extant cartes-de-visite portraits bearing Nevin's stamp which were coloured subsequent to purchase, it is the carpet which has received the most savage treatment. The strange blobs defy conventional perspective, although the intention may have been the opposite. This carte - as with many of the others bearing amateurish daubs - probably originated from the same family in northern Tasmania.

Middle-aged couple with dog
Hand-tinted carte-de-visite by Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1870
Copyright © KLW NFC Imprint Private Collection 2013 ARR

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.

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


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Prisoner Robert aka James OGDEN, photographed by Nevin 1875

Prisoner Robert Ogden (1861?-1883), known as James Odgen,
executed on 4th June 1883 at the Hobart Goal for murder.
Photographed by Thomas J. Nevin at the Hobart Gaol, 23 September 1875.

Source of image:
State Library of NSW
Digital Order No. a421036
Miscellaneous Photographic Portraits ca. 1877-1918
36. James Ogden
Call Number DL PX 158:
Photographs : 54 silver gelatin photoprints, 2 albumen photoprints ; 7.8-21.3 x 5.8-17.5 cm.

Tasmania Reports of Crime (police gazette), 13 April 1883

"Referring to murder of William Wilson, James Ogden, proper name Robert Ogden, and James Mahoney, alias Sutherland, have been arrested by P. C. Phillips. of the Campbell Town Municipal Police, and party. Ogden and Mahoney are also charged with the murder of Alfred Holman."
This photograph - a standard 1870s carte-de-visite prisoner mugshot in an oval mount produced by Thomas J. Nevin - has escaped the attention of photo-historians of the 1870s Tasmanian prisoners' identification photographs, the so-called "Port Arthur convict portraits 1874" labelled and catalogued as such in Australian national collections, viz. the National Library of Australia, Canberra, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, and the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston. It belongs to the same series of fine albumen prints in mounts of prisoners taken by commercial and police photographer Thomas J. Nevin for the Hobart Gaol and Hobart Municipal Police authorities from 1872 to mid 1880s.

Only 300 or so are known to have survived from the several thousand taken over the two decades by Thomas Nevin and his younger brother Constable John Nevin at the Hobart Gaol and Hobart Municipal Police Office, Hobart Town Hall.  Up to 25 duplicates were being taken on arrest and discharge of prisoners in NSW by 1872. A comparable number was produced in Victoria and Tasmania, and in each colony, the police used commercial photographers.

The photograph of Ogden is located at the State Library of NSW, catalogued as "No. 36 James Ogden," Miscellaneous Photographic Portraits ca. 1877-1918 (DL PX 158). It bears no attribution, no studio mark or inscription, except the name of the prisoner on verso (though this is not explicitly stated), written no doubt by its donor to the SLNSW, John Watt Beattie. Most in this miscellany are portraits of notable men and women. No. 25 is catalogued as "Le Grande [sic] Bookseller Hobart, d. Nov. 1902 / J. W. Beattie, Hobart". There is little doubt that it was John Watt Beattie, collector and dealer in convictaria in Hobart from the 1890s, and Tasmanian government photographer from 1895, who sent this 1870s prisoner mugshot by Nevin, along with dozens more that he had salvaged from the Hobart Gaol, initially as part of a travelling exhibition in conjunction with the fake convict ship Success. 
The cdv of prisoner Ogden found its way to the State Library of NSW, along with Beattie's own photograph of the conchologist William Legrand. The Ogden mugshot belongs with the other Thomas J. Nevin photographs of Tasmanian prisoners catalogued in the David Scott Mitchell Collection, Mitchell Library State Library NSW. at PXB 274. An additional hand-coloured prisoner mugshot by Nevin, pasted next to the death warrant of Ogden’s accomplice, James Sutherland,  is also held in the David Scott Mitchell collection (at C 202 – C 203 – see below). Other Nevin materials held in the same collection include a published copy of Thomas Nevin’s father’s poetry: “My Cottage in the Wilderness” (1868) by John Nevin. These and other selections of Tasmaniana were collected and donated to David Scott Mitchell’s collection by Beattie in the early 1900s.

Prisoner photographs by T. J. Nevin 1870s
Mitchell Library State Library NSW. at PXB 274.

Beattie's somewhat cavalier use of Tasmanian government property from 1895 is the seminal reason why so many hundreds of vignetted prisoner portraits taken by Nevin on contract in the 1870s were removed from the original Tasmanian Police prisoner records, files and registers, to surface decades later as artistic artefacts in libraries and museums, sourced as often as not from Beattie's own shop in Hobart where he sold any item he could associate with the "Port Arthur" brand. Beattie's name has become associated with early to mid-19th century photographic Tasmaniana to the point where he is often attributed as the original photographer, although this is chronologically impossible. Beattie was still a teenager living in Scotland when Nevin took this particular vignette of Robert aka James Ogden in 1875.

Police Records for Robert aka James OGDEN
These police records are sourced from the Tasmanian police gazettes 1870-85, published as Tasmania Reports of Crime, Information for Police; James Barnard, Government Printer.

The early police reports note that Robert Ogden was undergoing a sentence of 4 years passed on him 29 October 1870 at Green Ponds for being idle and disorderly and vagrancy. His age was indeterminate to police, sometimes described as 12, or 15, or 16, or "short for his age" . By the time he was executed in 1883, he was thought to be about 20yrs old.

19 January 1872
Absconded and arrested: Robert Ogden, aged 14.

27 January 1872.
A more detailed description of the two brothers, Robert and William Ogden, who were sometimes confused with each other by unsuspecting police. In this instance, Robert Ogden's age has increased 2 years in one week..

6 December 1872
Robert Ogden arrested with his brother William, but Robert absconded again within weeks.

27 December 1872
Almost a year later, Robert Ogden's age has decreased by one year.


3 October 1873
Absconded again, Robert Ogden is thought to be 14 yrs old, one year younger not older.

18 October 1873
Convicted of larceny, age put at 12 yrs old.

12 December 1873
Absconded, and then arrested in the same week. Robert Ogden is now described as 11 yrs old, perhaps because he was "short for his age".


6 August 1875
Absconded, now described as a 12 yr old.

20 August 1875
On the run still, and wanted for larceny.

24 September 1875
Robert Ogden arrested, sent to the Hobart Goal, and photographed by Thomas J. Nevin


14 December 1878
Described as 18 yrs old, Robert Ogden was convicted for larceny for 3 months at the Hobart Gaol.


12 March 1879
Discharged 6 months later, aged 19 yrs.


8 May 1880
Arrested for stealing bread etc.


28 January 1881
Arrested again.

William Wilson, of Epping Forest (Tasmania). the murder victim, awoke to the sound of stones thrown onto his roof and went out to investigate. He was shot and died of his wounds. His hut - where his wife and children slept - was then set on fire. Ogden and Sutherland claimed they only intended it all as a joke.

3 April 1883
Inquests of the murder victims of Robert aka James Ogden and James Sutherland.

Police gazette, 13 April 1883
"Referring to murder of William Wilson, James Ogden, proper name Robert Ogden, and James Mahoney, alias Sutherland, have been arrested by P. C. Phillips. of the Campbell Town Municipal Police, and party. Ogden and Mahoney are also charged with the murder of Alfred Holman."

The Mercury, 2 June 1883. Execution of Ogden and Sutherland determined, visited by Executive Council members who did not detect "the presence of insanity in either of them".

Photographers at the Murder Scene

The Mercury, 8 May 1883:

The Anson Brothers – not unfamiliar to police as convicted felons themselves (in 1877 Joshua Anson was convicted for theft from his master photographer H.H. Baily, and sentenced to two years, Henry Anson was frequently arrested for drunkenness) – turned up at the burnt-out house of Ogden and Sutherland’s victim Mr Wilson just weeks into the aftermath of the murder, took photographs of the ruins – described as “a subject of mournful yet engrossing interest” by the Mercury report – and coolly advised the public that “handsome, interesting and valuable” copies were available from the photographers! The Ansons went further in pursuit of gain: they probably accessed the two doomed youths Sutherland (on left) and Ogden (on right) inside the Hobart Gaol only weeks before their execution to grab this image for sale and display in the window of their shop at Wellington Bridge, Elizabeth Street.

Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
Ref: Q16478. Unattributed.

Thomas Nevin photographed Ogden’s accomplice, James Mahoney aka Sutherland in prisoner clothing, for two standard mugshots required as police records: one photograph is held at the National Library of Australia, the other – a hand-coloured cdv pasted next to Sutherland’s death warrant – is held at the Mitchell Library, SLNSW.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Paris Expo 1855: Captain Goldsmith's blue gum plank

Elizabeth Nevin's uncle, master mariner Captain Edward Goldsmith , departed Hobart Tasmania permanently in February 1856, but his entry of a blue gum plank (eucalyptus globulus) was shipped to France months prior, intended for the opening of the Paris Exposition on 15 May 1855, closing on 15 November 1855. Over five million people visited the exhibition which displayed products from 34 countries across 6 hectares (39 acres).

Exposition universelle de 1855 à Paris - Palais de l'Industrie
Restitution en 3D du Palais de l'Industrie - Film présenté lors de l'exposition au Musée des Avelines à Saint-Cloud, du 25 mars au 31 mai 2009 : "Sur les traces des Expositions universelles à Saint-Cloud".
"La France Couronnant l'Art et l'Industrie" - Groupe sculpté par Elias Robert - vestige de l'Exposition universelle de 1855 dans le Parc de Saint-Cloud.

Exposition universelle de 1855 à Paris
Opened: 15 May 1855
Closed:15 November 1855
Site: 16 hectares(39 acres)
Participating ;Countries: 34

Exposition universelle de Paris en 1855
Artist/Architect: Viel, Jean-Marie-Victor, 1796-1863
Description: Lithographs: monochrome, 1 image
Format: Lithographs
Caption: This lithograph depicts the distribution of recompenses to the exhibitors at the close of the Exposition Universelle at the Palais de l'Industrie on November 15, 1855.


The plank was 70 feet long, 11 feet wide and 3 inches thick, according to the report in the Hobart Courier, 6 September 1855.

Although the Exposition catalogue listed his plank, the report of the Hobart Courier of September 6, 1855, suggested it never left Hobart, that is, if the plank was originally cut by the Commandant of Port Arthur, James Boyd, and Captain Goldsmith was his proxy as both shipping agent and exhibitor.

Hobart Courier September 6, 1855

Blue Gum of Tasmania,- Eucalyptus globulus,
plank 70 + 11 +3 inches. Captain Goldsmith.
This is perhaps the most valuable and important of the timber trees of Tasmania. Its principal habitat is in the south side of the island ; but it is also met with in the valley of the Apsley and at the Douglas River, on the East Coast, and it re-appears upon Flinder's Island, in Bass's Straits: its stronghold, however, is D'Entrecasteaux's Channel and along the south side of the island, whence it has been exported in various shapes within the last three years to the value of about £800.000.
The Blue Gum attains, when-at maturity, an average elevation and size greater probably than any other tree in the world ; a plank forwarded to the London Exhibition of 1851, which from the difficulty experienced in procuring a ship to carry it, arrived in England too late for  exposition, measured 145 feet in length, and was 20 inches broad by 6 inches in thickness. A plank of the same width and thickness was cut 60 feet in length by Mr. James Boyd, Civil Commandant at Port Arthur, Van Diemen's Land, in order to be forwarded to the Paris Exhibition of 1855, but it has been found impracticable to get it shipped by any vessel at this port, (Hobart Town), and it does not therefore appear in this catalogue.
This tree attains at its full growth a height of 250 to 350 feet, and a circumference varying from 30 to upwards of 100 feet, at four feet from the ground. In regular forest ground it rarely gives off its principal limb under 100 feet, and there is not unfrequently a stem clear of any branch for 200 foot and upwards. The most important purpose for which this timber is adapted, and to which it is extensively applied, is that of ship-building. The Messrs. Degraves and Messrs. Watson of this place have built and fitted out vessels with it of which several are now trading regularly to and from England. Its specific gravity is greater than that of  Teak, British Oak, or even Saull; and experiments instituted to ascertain its breaking weight &;c., have  established the fact, that in strength and elasticity it is superior to all other timbers. For planking and stringers, and for keels of ships, the blue gum possesses a suitability beyond all other timbers, since it affords length and dimensions which it would be impossible to obtain from any other tree.
The purposes to which the wood of the blue gum is applied are as numerous as the varieties of work which devolve on the shipwright, millwright, house carpenter, implement-maker, and engineer, for in all these departments of mechanical labour and skill it is found to be a material all but indispensable, notwithstanding the great diversity of woods available in the Colony. For instance, it is in constant use for tree-nails in ship-building, - as gunwales for boats,- for house-building. for fitting up steam engines and the heaviest machinery,- in the construction of wheels, wheelbarrows, carts. &c, and for piles on which to raise wharves ; bridges of great span are built of it, -that at Bridgewater, about II miles from Hobart Town, of which a model was sent to the London Exhibition. and which is raised upon piles measuring 65 to 90 feet each in length, stands 9 feet above the highest high watermark, and measures 96 feet from end to end, by a breadth affording a roadway of 24 feet, is constructed entirely of this timber. This tree, like most of the Eucalypti, yields a red, highly astringent gum, which has been extensively used,and found to answer, as a "kino," and the leaves by distillation yield an essential oil, having the properties of "Cajeput oil.

Stereo of the blue gum bridge at Bridgewater
Attributed to Morton Allport 1860s
TAHO Ref: 17AUTAS001126184597

... bridges of great span are built of it, -that at Bridgewater, about II miles from Hobart Town, of which a model was sent to the London Exhibition. and which is raised upon piles measuring 65 to 90 feet each in length, stands 9 feet above the highest high watermark, and measures 96 feet from end to end, by a breadth affording a roadway of 24 feet, is constructed entirely of this timber....
The Tasmanian Executive won two awards at the Paris Expo 1855:

1,2 Paris Exhibition 1855
RS.157  I
Certificate of award of 2nd class medal to Tasmanian Executive
for (1) wood turned objects and furniture and (2) wood carvings,
signed by Napoleon Bonaparte
(80 cm. x eQ cm.) (Royal Society of Tasmania, UTas ePrints)

State Library of Tasmania
Blue gum camp and coupe ca. 1870
ADRI: AUTAS001126185776; AUTAS001126185636
Source: Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts

The Harriet McGregor, 332 tons, was built at the Domain shipyard by Alexander McGregor in 1871, and named after his wife, the former Harriet Bayley. It was the most renowned of the blue-gum clippers that made 24 voyages from Hobart to London and back as well as trading on intercolonial and Mauritian routes until sold in 1895 to Danish owners, renamed Water Queen, and destroyed soon after by fire at Rio.

Title: HARRIET MCGREGOR [picture]
Author/Creator: Allan C. Green 1878-1954
Date(s): [ca. 1900-ca. 1954]
Description: 2 negatives : glass ; each 12.1 x 16.6 cm. (half plate)
Identifier(s): Accession no(s) H91.250/130; H91.250/131
Subjects: Harriet McGregor (Ship) ; Barks (Sailing ships)
Notes: Copy of earlier negative.
Link to digitised item:

Another use for the Tasmanian blue gum was the manufacture of soap from the fresh green leaves. This advertisement ca. 1900 by New York soap company HYOMEI stressed the benefits to both mother and child.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Convict portraits by Thomas J. Nevin at the National Library of Australia

In June 2005, the National Library of Australia had digitised just 25 photographs of their collection of 84 prisoner identification cartes-de-visite of Tasmanian prisoners, titled "Convict portraits, Port Arhur,1874", with the long-standing and correct attribution to commercial and police photographer Thomas J. Nevin. The total of 84 in the NLA collection is available here:

Nevin, Thomas J., 1842 – ca.1922 : Convict portraits, Port Arthur, 1874

Webshot 2007
Photographer Thomas J. Nevin
NLA Pictorial list: Tasmanian convicts

These are all now digitised. The NLA's current equivocation regarding Nevin's attribution is irrelevant and meaningless. See this article and links.

Webshots 2005
Photographer Thomas J. Nevin
NLA Pictorial list: Tasmanian convicts

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