Monday, March 30, 2015

Thomas Nevin's VIP commission 1872

To Adventure Bay, 31st January 1872
Between 31st January and 2nd February 1872, Hobart photographer Thomas J. Nevin accompanied two parties of VIPs on boat trips down the Derwent River: to Adventure Bay at Bruny Island, and to Port Arthur on the Tasman Peninsula. On the 31st January he took a series of photographs of a party of "colonists" which included Sir John O'Shanassy, former Premier of Victoria, on their day trip to Adventure Bay on the eastern side of Bruny Island. They travelled on board The City of Hobart, commanded by Captain John Clinch.

Title: The Tasmanian Steam Navigation Company's Screw Steam Ship 'City of Hobart' 618 tons (Captain John Thom)
Passing Gravesend on her trial trip Feb. 23rd 1854 / J.W. Deering Del et Lith. ; Day & Son Lithrs to the Queen
Creator: Deering, John W., 1838-1923
Publisher: [S.l. : s.n.], 1854
Description: 1 print : lithograph ; sheet 44 x 61 cm. within frame
Format: Print
ADRI: AUTAS001124068164
Source: Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts

It was a busy week for Thomas J. Nevin and his camera. The colonists' trip to Adventure Bay took place on Wednesday 31st January 1872. It was initiated by townsman John Woodcock Graves (the younger) who chartered the steamer the City of Hobart with costs defrayed by subscription, and who requested Thomas Nevin's services as photographer of the official party among the 400 subscribers to the event. The VIP's on the trip 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), Robert Byron Miller (barrister Tasmania), the band of the Workingmen's Club, not to mention the many women and children, notably teenager Jean Porthouse Graves, daughter of John Woodcock Graves jnr, who collected Nevin's photographs of the excursion in a family album.

On board the "City of Hobart"
Thomas Nevin photographed this group of dignitaries on board the City of Hobart early in the trip and took another on board when they returned (TMAG Collection). He printed this earlier stereograph on an arched buff mount which now bears the inscription recto in ink "My Father" referring to John Woodcock Graves jnr, added by his teenage daughter, Jean Porthouse Graves who joined him on the trip.

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

From left to right:
Sir John O'Shanassy (seated), John Woodcock Graves jnr, Captain John Clinch, the Hon. Alfred Kennerley and the Hon. James Erskine Calder (seated). Standing behind Captain Clinch and Alfred Kennerley is R. Byron Miller.

The square royal blue label with T. Nevin's modified design of Alfred Bock's stamp from the mid-1860s and the wording in gold lettering, framed on a cartouche within gold curlicues, is unique to this item, not (yet) seen on the verso of any of his other photographs. Similar wording appeared on Nevin's most common commercial stamp from 1867 with and without Bock's name but always with the addition of a kangaroo sitting atop the Latin motto "Ad Altiora". Here, Bock's name is still included within the design although Nevin acquired Bock's studio five years earlier, in 1867: "T. Nevin late A.Bock" encircled by a buckled belt stating the firm's name within the strap, "City Photographic Establishment". The address "140 Elizabeth Street Hobarton" appears below the belt buckle and inside the badge motif.

The name "Graves" with a half-scroll underneath in black ink was most likely written by Thomas Nevin himself as a reminder of the client's name for the order. The handwriting is similar to his signatures on the birth registrations of his children in the 1870s.

The pencilled inscription "On board City of Hobart, Cap Clinch, Visitors Trip Jay 1872" and the deduction of the years "1947-1872=75 ago" was written by a descendant of the Graves and Miller families, probably by daughter Jean Porthouse Graves who wrote "My Father" above the right hand frame on the front of the stereograph and a partial arrow pointing to John Woodcock Graves (jnr), She had pasted this photograph, and others taken by Thomas J. Nevin of the same group, into a family album (KLW NFC Private Collections 2015).

Another stereograph of the VIPS by Nevin on board the City of Hobart 31st January 1872
Stereograph with T. Nevin Photo blindstamp impress recto on right hand side
Verso with T. J. Nevin's government contractor's stamp with Royal Arms insignia.
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery Collection Ref: Q1994.56.2

State Library of Victoria
The Hon[oura]ble J. O'Shanassy Chief Secretary [ca. 1858]
Attributed to Antoine Fauchery.
Photoprints at LTA 355.

At Adventure Bay
Men of premier social status dressed in full Victorian attire from head to toe rarely allowed themselves to be photographed in reclining and recumbent poses, so these captures by Nevin of Sir John O'Shanassy and Sir James Erskine Calder lolling about in bush surroundings are quite remarkable. Their ease and familiarity with Thomas Nevin was in no small part due to his work already performed for surveyors James Calder and James and John Hurst on commission with the Lands and Survey Dept., for which he was issued with the Colonial Government's Royal Arms warrant by authority. The men in the foreground of this series taken on the Adventure Bay 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.

Group photograph of the colonists at Adventure Bay 31st January 1872
Figures on lower left, recumbent: John Woodcock Graves jnr and Sir John O'Shanassy
Between them: John Graves' teenage daughter, Jean Porthouse Graves
Above her in topper: Robert Byron Miller
On right: sitting with stick, Hon. Alfred Kennerley, Mayor of Hobart
Head in topper only on extreme right: Sir James Erskine Calder.

Stereograph in double oval buff mount with T. Nevin blindstamp impress in centre
Verso is blank. Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2014 ARR
Taken at the TMAG November 2014 (TMAG Collection Ref:Q1994.56.5

This is the same image, printed by Nevin from his negative as a carte-de-viste, stamped verso with his most common commercial studio stamp. More of the figure of the Hon. James Erskine Calder leaning into the frame on lower right is visible. Jean Porthouse Graves is indicated by an ink mark, and so is the man in the white summer hat who is leaning on top of a man-made stone structure, perhaps Lukin Boyes, son of artist and administrator G.T.W. Boyes. Surname and initial appearing to be "L Boyes" is written on verso.

Verso inscriptions include these identifiable figures at the "Picnic":
Father = John Woodcock Graves jnr,
Sir John O'Shanassy = former Premier of Victoria,
Self = Jean Porthouse Graves, daughter of John W. Graves,
L. Boyes = Lukin Boyes (?), son of G.T. W. Boyes

From an album compiled by the families of John Woodcock Graves jnr and R. Byron Miller
Private Collection © KLW NFC Imprint 2015

Another configuration with more members of the VIP group at Adventure Bay, 31st January 1872. The man laughing, sitting between the Hon. Alfred Kennerley (lower left) and Sir John O'Shanassy, is Hugh Munro Hull, Parliamentary librarian. He seems to have appreciated comments coming from Nevin at the point of capture, while Sir John O'Shanassy (with stick), reads on, oblivious. The figure running into the scene at centre is John Woodcock Graves (the younger), organiser of the excursion.

Nevin's blindstamp impress is on the mount at centre. This stereo is badly water-damaged.
It is held at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Ref: Q1994.56.24.
Photo taken at TMAG 10th November 2014
Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2014 ARR

Thomas Nevin took this photograph of the group as they emerged from the bush onto the sand at Adventure Bay, 31st January 1872. He printed the image as a stereograph on yellow card, with his blindstamp impress "T. NEVIN PHOTO" on the right, which was applied somewhat hurriedly. The inscription and arrows in ink on the left - "Father" and "Me" and "?" point to John Woodcock Graves jnr and his daughter Jean Porthouse Graves.

Verso inscription: "Pleasure Trip to Adventure Bay when I was a girl."
From an album compiled by the families of John Woodcock Graves jnr and R. Byron Miller
Copyright © KLW NFC Imprint Private Collection 2015

A letter to the Mercury by "One of the Party" praised the trip as "the happiest marine pleasure excursion that has ever happened in Tasmania":
All went to bed, I guess, in good time, and slept and dreamt about nothing worse than
"Silvery fish for the foam-hunting falcon,
Sea-weed and pearls for my darling and me."
And thus ended the happiest marine pleasure excursion that has ever happened in Tasmania, and one that will leave a pleasant mark in the history of the colony....
Source: WHAT STRANGERS THINK OF OUR RESOURCES. (1872, February 2). The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved March 28, 2015, from

Very well taken
Thomas Nevin advised readers of the Mercury, 2nd February 1872, that those group photographs taken on the trip to Adventure Bay were ready and for sale. The Mercury also reported that Nevin's photographs of the event were "very well taken" in the same edition. The day previously, Nevin's close friend Henry Hall Baily advised that prints of his "instantaneous photographs" taken of the Champion Gig Race at the Regatta on 30th January were ready.

Visitors' photographs on hand ready for sale
The Colonists' Trip to Adventure Bay
Thomas Nevin's advertisement, Mercury 2nd February 1872
Henry Hall Baily's "Instantaneous Photographs", 1st Feb 1872

Mercury, 2nd February 1872
THE TRIP DOWN THE RIVER.- A photograph of the "Colonists' Trip" has been very well taken by Mr. Nevin, which will be of special interest to those who took part, and will probably like to secure this remembrance of so memorable event.

Both Baily and Nevin had forwarded copies of their photographs to the Mercury to merit these notices. Those copies would have been displayed in the newspaper window because printing them - as real photographs and not just as lithographs - was still beyond the technological means of newsprint reproduction.

To Port Arthur, 1st February 1872

VISIT TO PORT ARTHUR.- Mr. Trollope and the Hon. Howard Spensly, Esq., Solicitor-General of Victoria, accompanied the Hon. the Premier, J.M. Wilson, Esq., and the Hon. the Attorney-General, W.R. Giblin, Esq., embarked in the Government schooner late last night, some time after Mr. Trollope had concluded his lecture on “Modern Fiction, as a recreation for young people,” and left for Port Arthur. Their visit to the Peninsula will be a very hurried one, and will afford them only scant opportunity of inspecting the penal establishment, it being the intention of Messrs. Trollope and Spensly to leave Hobart Town for the North, en route for Victoria in a few days …
Source: Mercury 2 February 1872

Thomas Nevin printed the Adventure Bay trip photographs in different formats, some as plain single-image cartes-de-visite, others as stereographs in oval, arched or square mounts on buff or yellow card. He must have worked in situ and later all evening of the 31st January (1872) on returning to Hobart to have prepared prints from the Adventure Bay trip for sale by 2nd February, because one day later, on 1st February (1872), he attended British author Anthony Trollope's lecture on modern fiction at the Odd Fellows Hall before joining Trollope's party heading to Port Arthur with the Tasmanian Premier, the Hon. J. M. Wilson, Esq. Thomas Nevin was the official photographer of the Loyal United Brothers Lodge. A. & I.O.O.F. at the inauguration and grande soiree of the new Odd Fellows' Hall on July 6, 1871, attended by the Premier. His VIP commission was extended once again to join the Premier, members of the legal profession, and Anthony Trollope at Port Arthur.

Anthony Trollope, Melbourne 1871
Hibling & Fields Photographers
State Library of Victoria Ref: H96.160/1669

Anthony Trollope's party left late in the evening of 1st February (1872) on board the government schooner for the Port Arthur prison on the Tasman Peninsula. Accompanying Anthony Trollope and Premier J. M. Wilson were 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 (see newspaper report below). They 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.

Attorney-General W. R. Giblin ca. 1874
Photo by T. Nevin, stamp verso
TAHO Ref: NS1013-1-1971

Trollope's Port Arthur interviewee prisoner Denis Dogherty
Photo by T. Nevin, stamp and verso inscription "Calder".
Private collection KLW NFC Imprint.

Thomas J. Nevin’s mugshot of prisoner Denis Dogherty, 1870s, reprint held at the NLA
Surname is spelled Dougherty by Edwin Barnard in Exiled: The Port Arthur Convict Photographs NLA (2010).
Photos copyright © KLW NFC 2011 ARR. Watermarked.

More Newspaper Reports
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 in the company of Anthony Trollope, was to establish a similar system for the relocation and processing prisoners through the central Municipal Police Office, Hobart Town Hall from the Port Arthur prison to the Hobart Gaol in Campbell St.

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

Anthony Trollope at Port Arthur
Mercury, 2 February 1872

VISIT TO PORT ARTHUR.- Mr. Trollope and the Hon. Howard Spensley, Esq., Solicitor-General of Victoria, accompaniedby the Hon. the Premier , J. M. Wilson Esq., and the Hon. the Attoney-General, W. R. Giblin Esq., embarked in the Government schooner late last night, some time after Mr. Trollope had concluded his lecture on "Modern Fiction as a recreation for young people," and left for Port Arthur. Their visit to the Peninsula will be a very hurried one, and will afford them only scant opportunity of inspecting the penal establishment, it being the intention of Messrs. Trollope and Spensley to leave Hobart Town for the North, en route for Victoria, in a few days.
THE MERCURY. (1872, February 2). The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954), p. 2. Retrieved April 3, 2015, from

JAMES ERSKINE CALDER wrote a lengthy piece on the history of Adventure Bay in the days preceding the actual trip to acquaint those with subscriptions to the trip of its significance.
Sir,-It was s good idea, whoever originated it, to have pitched on Adventure Bay for the scene of the pleasure trip and picnic, which the inhabitants of Hobart Town have got up as a fitting and kindly compliment to the many visitors now amongst them from Continental Australia, who have chosen this place for their summer residence.
I know quite enough of Adventure Bay to be able to assure you that the selection is a happy one ; and though a long list of pleasant places offer themselves to choose from, none could be better for a day's enjoyment in the land of the beautiful, than this retired inlet of Storm Bay .....
It was in this very Adventure Bay to which our citizens are about to escort their friends, that the quarrel between the rudely imperious Bligh and his lieutenant, grew into irreconcilable hatred of each other. According to a most unwilling participator in the meeting that followed, and who became its historian, " the seeds of eternal discord were sown between Lieutenant Bligh and some of his officers, while in Adventure Bay, Van Diemen's Land." etc etc
OUR VISITORS' TRIP. (1872, January 26). The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954), p. 3. Retrieved March 28, 2015, from

HOBART TOWN. (1872, February 8). Launceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 - 1899), p. 3. Retrieved March 28, 2015, from

Mr Anthony Trollope's lecture at 'the Odd-Fellows' Hall, last week, was attractive, and the object in aid of which it was given, the Cathedral Building Fund, did not render it less so. If the question were asked whether Mr Trollope be a better lecturer than novelist, it would not be difficult to answer in the negative, and probably some of the delighted readers of "Dr. Thorne," "The 'MacDermotts," "Barchester Towers," etc experienced a shade of disappointment at the lecture. However, Mr Trollope was greeted with a hearty welcome, and his lecture was "vociferously" (that's the word, I think) applauded from beginning to end. The subject " Works of Fiction as a means of recreation for young people," was appropriately chosen, and ably treated ; and I presume the northerners will have an opportunity of testing for themselves the respectable lecturing powers of the "great novelist."
Mr Graves's design of a pleasure excursion to Adventure Bay, last Wednesday, succeeded admirably. About 400 visitors from the other colonies and citizens well freighted the good steam-ship City of Hobart, and a most agreeable trip was enjoyed. There was abundant fishing in the bay and adjacent waters, and black perch, white perch, and bream were caught by the lady and gentlemen anglers. Bags and baskets were filled with the finny treasures, and it was quite curious to see the excursionists landing and trudging homewards with their burdens. It is, of course, understood that it was a subscription affair, the charge for chartering the vessel having been more than met by the contributions of the citizens, who cheerfully supported the project. I should not be surprised if the visitors proposed to return the compliment by giving a trip to the citizens. People are beginning, though late, to devise means for the amusement of visitors, for we have a great many visitors left in Hobart Town, notwithstanding the numbers who have gone to take part in the Launceston Carnival. There is to be an afternoon steam excursion tomorrow, got up by the Foresters; a quiet excursion on Thursday, to and from New Norfolk; an organ recital at the Town Hall to-morrow evening, when professionals from the different colonies are expected to perform on the grand organ. This evening, the sixteenth concert of the Orchestral Union is to come off, when Bellini's Sonambula is to be a performed, Mr Tapfield conductor. Then there is the Japanese troupe at the Theatre Royal, which is being well patronised; and several other entertainments are on the tapis; so that by hook or by crook, a tidy programme of amusements has been arranged for a week to come, at least.

State Library of Tasmania
Stereographs of Port Arthur, T. Nevin 1872

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