Saturday, December 21, 2013

Photographers A. Bock, S. Clifford and T. Nevin at Port Arthur

The Port Arthur officers' cricket team, April 1866.

Title: Officers at Port Arthur Cricket Team
Creator(s):Bock, Alfred, 1835-1920
Date: Between 1858 and 1867
Description: 1 photograph mounted on board : sepia toned ; 7 x 10 cm.
Notes: Exact measurements of image: 58 x 95 mm., Title derived from note inscribed in pencil on verso by unknown hand., Alfred Bock's trademark for his studio at 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart on verso.
Location: Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts
ADRI: AUTAS001126187517

In late April, 1866, photographer Alfred Bock was at the Port Arthur prison site on the Tasman Peninsula, 60 kms south of Hobart at the request of its Commandant, James Boyd. Alfred Bock's studio - The City Photographic Establishment - at 140 Elizabeth Street, Hobart, was manned by his junior partner Thomas Nevin and his apprentice, younger brother William Bock, in his absence. Bock's mission at Port Arthur was to provide a series of landscapes and portraits of officials. However, it was photographer Samuel Clifford, Nevin's friend and mentor, of Liverpool Street, Hobart, who was the source and supplier of photographic materials to the Port Arthur prison administration, in this instance for Alfred Bock in April 1866, and again in August 1873, when Clifford himself visited the prison site.

Alfred Bock sent Samuel Clifford an urgent telegram from Port Arthur on 27th April 1866 requesting 24 dry plates - panoramic. The details of the telegram were recorded as -

March -May 1866 Account of Private Telegrams
Date 27th April, No. 269, Alfred Bock to Mr Clifford Liverpool St. H. Town,
"Send down 24 dry Plates Panoramic. by the Shannon, at once. - Reply."

Tasmanian Papers 316 (microfilm)
Records of Telegrams sent and received between Hobart and Port Arthur 1863-1871
Mitchell Library, State Library NSW
Photos © KLW NFC Imprint 2013

Signal stations Port Arthur and Mt Nelson (courtesy of TAHO). The electric telegraph was introduced to Tasmania in 1857. The Electric Telegraph Office was situated in Macquarie Street Hobart opposite Franklin Square, also known as the old guard house (since demolished). This photograph taken ca. 1869 shows its arches:

The Electric Telegraph Office ca. 1869 (small building on corner).
Image courtesy Mitchell Library SLNSW

Alfred Bock's portraits of Commandant James Boyd were reported in the Mercury on 10th October 1866:

From Bock's telegram, it is very clear that dry plate photography was practiced by both Alfred Bock and his assistants, and by Samuel Clifford, as early as 1866. At left is an example of Alfred Bock's solar-enlarged photography which he may have devised from technical instructions published in The Photographic News, 1863. Both photographs are held at the State Library of Tasmania:

Notes for painted photograph of James Boyd on left:
Title: Mr. James Boyd
Creator(s): Bock, Alfred, 1835-1920
Date: 1866
Description: 1 photograph : sepia ; 15 x 10 cm.
Notes: Exact measurements : 144 x 100 mm, Title inscribed in ink on card mount centred below image., "Mercury 10/8/66, Portrait by Mr. Alfred Bock, presented to Jas. Boyd, 2/8/66" inscribed in pencil on verso., Original created by Alfred Bock., Photograph of an oil painting, painted over solar-enlarged photograph, head and shoulders inclined to left.
Subjects: Boyd, James - fl. 1866
Location: Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts
ADRI: AUTAS001125882142

Notes for photograph of James Boyd and his horse:
Title: James Boyd, Commandant P. Arthur
Creator(s): Bock, Alfred, 1835-1920
Date: 186-?
Description: 1 photograph : sepia ; 10 x 6 cm.
Notes: Exact measurements : 93 x 58 mm, Title inscribed in pencil on verso in unknown hand., Full length photograph of James Boyd standing beside his horse.
Location: Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts
ADRI: AUTAS001125882134

Title: Port Arthur, Guards c.1866
Publisher: Hobart : Alfred Bock, ca. 1866
Description: 1 photographic print on card : sepia toning ; 62 X 100 mm
Source: Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts
Notes: Title inscribed in pencil on verso

See also these articles (main weblog):

James Boyd, Port Arthur Commandant ca. 1860s.
Source: Australia: Image of a Nation 1850-1950 by David Moore and Rodney Hall (Collins 1983).

The way bill for the government schooner Harriet of July 24th, 1873, recorded that a cargo of 2 gross (288) photographic glass plates were intended for Port Arthur. Photographer Samuel Clifford had supplied the plates in anticipation of photographing the Colonial Governor Du Cane and his party of vice-regal visitors from South Australia. Because of a major dispute between the incumbent Port Arthur commandant A. H. Boyd with the Lands and Survey Department's photographer and painter William Piguenit, who subsequently resigned in protest at Boyd's bullying, the commission to photograph the ruinous state of the Port Arthur prison site at the request of opponents within the Colonial government was assigned to Samuel Clifford and Thomas Nevin. Opponents to the continuation of extravagant expenditure urged Parliament in July 1873 to close down the prison, transfer the prisoners to the gaol in Hobart, and dismiss the much despised Port Arthur commandant, Adolarious Humphrey Boyd, on grounds of corruption. As a result, from July 1873, those sixty or so prisoners still at Port Arthur were relocated to the gaol in Hobart (Campbell St) where they were photographed by Thomas Nevin on arrival, and A. H. Boyd was effectively removed from Port Arthur to a position in charge of paupers at the Cascades Prison for Males in Hobart by February 1874, per this notice in the Mercury, 19 January 1874:

PORT ARTHUR.-The breaking up of Port Arthur is proceeding more rapidly than the public have any idea of. The transference of prisoners to Hobart Town has been completed so far as is considered advisable till further accommodation can be pro-vided in Hobart Town, and sufficiently far to allow of Mr. Boyd's early transference from Port Arthur. Dr. Coverdale proceeds to Port Arthur at once, and takes medical charge, vice Dr. McCarthy resigned. He will be initiated into the duties of Superintendent by Mr. Boyd till 31st March, when he will assume duties as the head of the establishment, and when Mr. Boyd will be transferred to the Cascades, which, we learn, can be fitted up at a very moderate ex-pense to be a place of safe-keeping for criminals. (Mercury, 19 January 1874).
Boyd was neither a photographer, nor an engineer, and the row ensuing over Piguenit resonated throughout the dying days of his tenure at Port Arthur, both within Government and in the press.

Way bill for the Harriet, 20 July 1873:
288 photographic glasses as cargo to Port Arthur
Source: Tasmanian Papers 320 (microfilm)
Mitchell Library, State Library NSW
Photos © KLW NFC Imprint 2013

Samuel Clifford arrived at Port Arthur on board the Harriet on August 12th, 1873, together with a case of photographic materials. He fulfilled the commission, and departed Port Arthur on board the Harriet on 28 August 1873.

Way bill
Samuel Clifford (passenger list, top of second page) arrives at Port Arthur with photographic materials on August 12, 1873.

Way bill
Samuel Clifford (passenger list) departs Port Arthur on 22 August 1873.
Tasmanian Papers 320 (microfilm)
Mitchell Library, State Library NSW
Photos © KLW NFC Imprint 2013

Several photos taken by Samuel Clifford at Port Arthur were forwarded to the monthly magazine The Australasian Sketcher, which were published as engravings in August 1873, and mentioned again in the October 1873 issue:

"The photographs from which our views are engraved, as also those of Port Arthur, given in our last issue, were taken by Mr Clifford of Hobart Town."The Australasian Sketcher 4 October 1873.

The Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil was a monthly magazine published by the proprietors of The Argus between 1873 and 1889 and contained many illustrations, engravings, and articles which captured "the picturesque phases of our public and social life of notable objects and events in Australia and New Zealand". It provides an important pictorial account of life in the colonies before the wide spread use of photography.(Notes from NLA Trove).

State Library of Tasmania
Stereo by Samuel Clifford and T. Nevin

State Library of Tasmania
Stereo print of Port Arthur by Thomas Nevin
Ref: 17AUTAS001124851759 (color corrected for display here)

Samuel Clifford's series 1873
The Government Cottage, Port Arthur,
Photo dated 1873
State Library of Tasmania

Samuel Clifford, Port Arthur panoramic No, 2
State Library Tasmania

See also these articles (main weblog):

Between January 31st and 2nd February 1872, Thomas Nevin was commissioned to photograph parties of VIPS visiting Hobart on trips to Adventure Bay and Port Arthur. The trip to Adventure Bay resulted in a series of group portraits which included the Hon. Mr. James Wilson (Premier of Tasmania), Alfred Kennerley, (Mayor of Hobart and Police Magistrate), the manager of the Van Diemen’s Land Bank (?), the Hon. John O’Shanassy (former Premier of Victoria), Mr John Miller (Cape of Good Hope), Father Sheehy, Mr. Tobin (Victoria), John Woodcock Graves jnr (barrister Tasmania), Captain Clinch (commander of the City of Hobart), the Hon. James Erskine Calder (Surveyor-General), and Robert Byron Miller (barrister Tasmania). The trip to Port Arthur included British author Anthony Trollope, Premier J. M. Wilson, lawyers Howard Spensley, Solicitor-General of Victoria, and the Tasmanian Attorney-General W.R. Giblin, Nevin’s family solicitor since 1868, who had requested Nevin join them to organise facilities on site and procedures for photographing prisoners in accordance with recent legislative provisions in Victoria and NSW. The colony of New South Wales had already introduced the practice of photographing prisoners twice, firstly on entry to prison and secondly near the end of their term of incarceration by January 1872 when this report was published in the Sydney Morning Herald. The purpose of the visit to the Port Arthur prison by the former Premier and Solicitor-general from the colony of Victoria with photographer, Thomas Nevin and the Tasmanian Attorney-General the Hon. W. R. Giblin on 1st February 1872 in the company of visiting British author Anthony Trollope, was to establish a similar system for processing prisoners through the central Municipal Police Office, Hobart Town Hall on their relocation from the dilapidated and dysfunctional Port Arthur prison to the Hobart Gaol in Campbell St. The few remaining prisoners at Port Arthur were returned to Hobart from mid-1873 to early 1874. Some were photographed by Nevin at Port Arthur, but the majority were photographed by Nevin on arrival in Hobart.

Photography and Prisons
The Sydney Morning Herald 10 January 1872

PHOTOGRAPHY AND PRISONS.-We understand that, at the instance of Inspector-General McLerie, Mr. Harold McLean, the Sheriff, has recently introduced into Darlinghurst gaol the English practice of photographing all criminals in that establishment whose antecedents or whose prospective power of doing mischief make them, in the judgment of the police authorities, eligible for that distinction. It is an honour, however, which has to be " thrust " upon some men, for they shrink before the lens of the photographer more than they would quail before the eye of a living detective. The reluctance of such worthies in many cases can only be conquered by the deprivation of the ordinary gaol indulgencies; and even then they submit with so bad a grace that their acquiescence is feigned rather than real. The facial contortions to which the more knowing ones resort are said to be truly ingenious. One scoundrel will assume a smug and sanctimonious aspect, while another will chastise his features into an expression of injured innocence or blank stupidity which would almost defy recognition. They are pursued, however, through all disguises, and when a satisfactory portrait is obtained copies are transferred to the black books of the Inspector-General. The prisoners are first " taken" in their own clothes on entering the gaol, and the second portrait is produced near the expiration of their sentence. When mounted in the police album, the cartes-de-visite, if we may so style them, are placed between two columns, one containing a personal description of the offender, and the other a record of his criminal history. Briefer or more comprehensive biographies have probably never been framed. Copies of these photographs are sent to the superintendents of police in the country districts, and also to the adjoining colonies. To a certain extent photography has proved in England an effective check upon crime, and it is obviously calculated to render most valuable aid in the detection of notorious criminals. New South Wales is, we understand, the only Australian colony which has yet adopted this system ; but the practice is likely soon to become general.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald. (1872, January 10). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 4. Retrieved from

[Left]: Tasmanian Attorney-General W. R. Giblin
Photographer: Thomas J. Nevin 1873 studio stamp verso
TAHO Ref: NS1013-1-1971[Right]: Trollope’s Port Arthur interviewee prisoner Denis Dogherty
Photo by T. Nevin, stamp and verso inscription “Calder”.
Private collection KLW NFC Imprint.

The visitors to Port Arthur stayed a few days while Trollope gathered information from interviewing prisoners, including Denis Dogherty, whom Nevin photographed among other recent absconders. He took photographs as well of the derelict state of the buildings, of costly but unfinished engineering works, and general vistas across the site. The men in the foreground of this series taken on the trip in January 1872 were the lawyers and the legislators who were Nevin’s patrons and employers throughout his engagement as photographer in Hobart’s prisons and courts from 1872 into the 1880s.

The Colonists' Trip to Adventure Bay
VIPs on board The City of Hobart, 31st January 1872
Stereograph in buff arched mount by Thomas J. Nevin
Private Collection KLW NFC Group copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2015

Thomas Nevin had worked closely with Alfred Bock and Samuel Clifford from the mid 1860s to the late 1870s. From Bock he learnt portraiture until Bock's departure from Tasmania in 1867, and from Clifford he learnt stereography. Although some of Nevin's townscapes survive in public collections (TMAG, TAHO, QVMAG), it is his portraiture of both private clients and prisoners which is his enduring legacy. Of the hundreds of extant prisoner mugshots in public collections taken by Nevin, two photographs of prisoners, taken in 1875 rate a mention here because the prisoners are wearing prison hats made at Port Arthur. The way bill for the government schooner Harriet for the 4th July 1873 listed a cargo of 2000 leather caps sent to Hobart.

Way bill for the Harriet 4th July 1873 from Port Arthur to Hobart
2000 leather caps, 1800 woollen ditto.

Tasmanian Papers 320 (microfilm)
Mitchell Library, State Library NSW
Photos © KLW NFC Imprint 2013

These photographs are the only two in public collections of Tasmanian convicts wearing the leather caps in the mid 1870s. Nevin's photographs give an accurate idea of the styling of the leather caps, what were made of, when they were worn, who wore them, and how they were worn. A falsified and misleading description by Julia Clark of these two photographs by Nevin, which we originally photographed at the Mitchell Library for this weblog in 2009, has appeared in an article titled More than Magpies: Tasmanian Convict Clothing in Public Collections, Linda Clark, Julia Clark, Elspeth Wishart, Kim Simpson and Ian Terry, Historic Environment Volume 24 Number 3 2012, without acknowledgement to either Nevin or the source of their information, namely these weblogs. They falsify the dates - 1880s instead of 1875 - and in the footnote give a date of 1800 (!) for the photographs, minus the attribution to Nevin. These museum workers are reprehensible propogandists for Kim Simpson's ancestor, A. H. Boyd, who wishes Boyd might have taken the NLA's collection of photos of Tasmanian prisoners or "Port Arthur convicts 1874", though Julia Clark et al have known all along only too well that it never happened, and never could have possibly happened. In addition to the plagiarisation of our material about these caps, the same authors have used information only found on these Nevin weblogs about the painted scarf on Bramall's mugshot by Nevin, revealed only through our photographs taken at the NLA (see below).

The two photographs of prisoners, James Mullins on left and William Smith on right, were taken in 1875 at the Hobart Gaol. Both wearing leather caps. Verso bears Nevin's stamp with Hobart Supreme Court Royal Arms insignia.

Photos © KLW NFC Imprint 2013
Mitchell Library SLNSW (PXB 274)

Neither carte bears a date, but the photographs can be dated from the same week of 9th July 1875 when both men were booked and sentenced at the Hobart Supreme Court . Mullins' carte (on left) is numbered recto "198" and Smith's (on right) is numbered recto "200". Nevin took an earlier and different photograph of an unshaven Smith, which is numbered "199" and stamped verso as well. It is held at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery. See this article here on this site. A journalist visiting the Hobart Gaol in 1882 noted this uniform with the cap in his report to the The Mercury on 8th July 1882:
In their dark-grey uniform and black leathern caps, with their criminal visages, shaven of the covering Nature had given to aid them in the concealment of their vicious propensities and villainous characters, they were, in truth, a forbidding, repulsive lot. Yet very far from unintelligent, at least, in some marked instances. A villainous shrewdness and a perverse cleverness writ in many a cunning, gleamy eye and heavy brow ; and a dogged determination to be read in the set of the jaw, and the style of the gait, were as the translated speech of artfully calculated, daring crime.

William Smith per Gilmore 3.
Photo by Thomas Nevin, July 1875; copyright KLW NFC 2009 ARR
Stamped verso with Nevin's government stamp
Mitchell Library NSW PXB 274 No.1

On May 8th, 1874, Thomas Nevin journeyed to Port Arthur on board the Harriet, in the company of a prisoner whom he had earlier photographed as William Campbell, but who was subsequently hanged as Job Smith. The new Surgeon-Commandant of the prison site, Dr Coverdale, by that date was implementing a speedy evacuation of all prisoners to the Hobart Gaol. Nevin photographed some of these serious offenders in situ at Port Arthur, but the majority he photographed when they were received in Hobart.

Mr Nevin arrives at Port Arthur aboard the Harriet, May 8th, 1874
accompanying the prisoner whom he had photographed as William Campbell
but who was hanged as Job Smith at the Hobart Gaol, May 1875.
Source: Mitchell Library SLNSW, Tasmanian Papers Ref: 320.

William Campbell returned to the Hobart Gaol four days later in the company of Constable Mooney on board the Harriet , 12 May 1874. He carried no luggage. Nevin remained at Port Arthur for another week, returning to Hobart with his father-in-law, master mariner Captain James Day, on board the Star.

Detail of the tinted photograph (below on right) of prisoner Walter Johnstone aka Henry Bramall
NLA Catalogue nla.pic-vn4270027.
Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2015 ARR. Watermarked.

Johnstone aka Bramall or Taylor absconded, reported February 6, 1874
Source: Tasmania Reports on Crime for Police Information

Walter Johnstone aka Henry Bramall aka Taylor
NLA Collection nla.pic-vn4270027
Vignette on left, not tinted but mounted, and hand-tinted mounted cdv
Original prisoner mugshots by T. J. Nevin 1874
Photos recto and verso taken at the National Library of Australia, 7th Feb 2015
Photos copyright © KLW NFC 2015 ARR. Watermarked.

William Campbell, hanged as Job Smith 1875
NLA Collection nla.pic-vn4270353
Hand-tinted vignetted and mounted prisoner portrait by T.J. Nevin 1874
Photos taken at the National Library of Australia, 7th Feb 2015
Photos copyright © KLW NFC 2015 ARR. Watermarked.

The original cdvs of Job Smith and Bramall online at the National Library of Australia barely show the hand-tinting, and in one cdv of Bramall, none at all, yet Clark et al have referenced both cdvs with comments about the colouring without acknowledgement of their source, namely our weblogs or Nevin as the photographer. We took this photograph of Bramall (above) to reveal that the prison scarf was painted at the neck of this prisoner, detailed in this weblog post of December 2009.

In the carte of Walter Johnson aka Bramall aka Taylor (sic, below), however, there IS no neckerchief. He is not wearing one at all underneath his collar, so the blueish colouring we can see is actually just paint patterned in squares to look like the standard issue neckerchief. This is a telling detail, and would have been added by Nevin to the print he made of an earlier photograph he took of Bramall to underscore the fact that the man was in effect a prisoner who had absconded in prison clothing. The eyes of this man have intense blue colouring as well. The reason for the colour was not to render a pretty picture; it was to aid the public's recognition of him. The carte would have been displayed at the Town Hall Police Office, and most likely exhibited in Nevin's studio window at 140 Elizabeth St, Hobart Town. It would have been available to the public, on sale, since Johnstone alias Bramall alias Taylor absconded from the Cascades area of Hobart on June 6th, 1874, and appears to have succeeded in remaining at large, as his recapture was not recorded during 1875.


Tasmanian Papers 316, 317, 320 (microfilm)
Mitchell Library, State Library NSW
ALL photos © KLW NFC Imprint 2013

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