Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Thomas Nevin at the Canary and Cage Bird Show 1869

THOMAS NEVIN PRIZE CARDS photographs of model birds
WILLIAM HISSEY taxidermist

A collection of British birds
Item Number: NS1013/1/897
Start Date: 01 Jan 1880
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania

Thomas Nevin's photographs of model birds fixed to prize cards which were attached to the cages of winning entries at the Canary and Cage Bird show at the Hobart Alliance Rooms in May 1869, and again at the Tasmanian Poultry show at the Hobart Town Hall in August 1869, were deemed to be of high quality by both the press and the recipients of the prizes. None, it seems, of these photographs on prize cards - or indeed the stuffed birds which were Nevin's models - has yet to surface in Australian public collections. The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) - known as the Museum of the Royal Society in the 1860s - would be the likely repository, yet the management has yet to provide a comprehensive digitized catalogue displaying online any of their substantial holdings of bird and animal taxidermy, let alone photography from the colonial period (their attempts at an online catalogue, available until 2005 when it was taken down without explanation, was better than nothing, the present state of affairs). Thomas J. Nevin's hundreds of photographs including fifty (50) or more stereographs of streetscapes and buildings; gardens, rivers and flooded landscapes; group outings with visiting VIPS; studio portraits of women; and the sixty (60) or more mugshots of "convicts" all dating from the late 1860s to the early 1880s and all held at the TMAG, were only accessible as copies to our T. J. Nevin project as descendants on payment of more than $5000 (five thousand Australian dollars) in 2015. Enjoy them and our generosity on this weblog while you can.

Taxidermy in Hobart 1860s
Taxidermist and hairdresser William Hissey (1805-1896) whose commercial premises were close to Thomas Nevin's studio in Elizabeth Street, Hobart in 1868, was most likely the supplier of the model birds which Thomas Nevin photographed for the prize cards awarded at the Canary and Cage Bird show at the Alliance Rooms in Hobart in May 1869. William Hissey's skills in taxidermy extended to native animals which he exhibited in Europe as well as parrots, parroquets, cockatoos, and wattle birds. The Acclimatization Society of Tasmania in turn received flora and fauna from England, some surviving or not, as in the case of the vixen which Mr Hissey stuffed and donated to the Royal Society's Museum:

Mr Hissey, taxidermist and hairdresser
Source:The Tasmanian Times (Hobart Town, Tas. : 1867 - 1870) Wed 20 May 1868 Page 2

TAXIDERMY.—It is pleasant to notice any description of industry which is handily and well executed. Such is animal stuffing, as it is carried on by Mr. Hissey, of Elizabeth-street. In addition to his ordinary occupation of hair-dressing, Mr. Hissey devotes his leisure hours to the stuffing of birds and other animal, and the natural and life-like appearance he gives to them is very pleasing. He lately stuffed a vixen which was forwarded from England to the Acclimatization Society here, with the prospect of setting it at large with its mate into our scrub, but it appears it died soon after its arrival. This when stuffed had all the appearance of the animal in its natural state at home, and is to be seen among the other curiosities in the Museum of the Royal Society. The native birds of the colony under the manipulation of Mr. Hissey assume the appearance they are accustomed to make while they are abroad among our massive forest trees, or while they rustle through the bush; and perhaps in no part of the world are birds of richer or more beautiful plumage to be found than in Tasmania. The parrots, parroquets, cockatoos, the wattle birds, and the bronzed winged pigeons are not to be surpassed anywhere, and such of them as have been exhibited in the countries of Europe have been admired by all who beheld them. Some of our native animals when stuffed by Mr. Hissey are equally admirable.
Source:The Tasmanian Times (Hobart Town, Tas. : 1867 - 1870) Wed 20 May 1868 Page 2

A matter of weeks later, in July 1868, the press again praised William Hissey for his tasteful presentation of a stuffed parrot belonging to Church of England clergyman Robert Rowland Davies (1805-1880). Davies was a keen horticulturist who introduced many plants into Tasmania, who served as president of the Launceston Horticultural Society and who was a strong opponent of transportation. The oddity about this particular parrot, the reporter noted, was the bird's vivid hues which, as a species, usually exhibited a "a common green sort", hinting that the parrot's plumage had been touched up with paint of various colours. An admirer of Rowland's "brilliant sermons" was Jane Williams (1819-1885), possibly a relative of Florence Williams who may have been the artist responsible for prettying up the parrot, the same parrot which may have stood in as the model for her painting of a native bird in oil (see painting below):

Source: Tasmanian Times (Hobart Town, Tas. : 1867 - 1870), Saturday 25 July 1868, page 2

TAXIDERMY.—There is now on view at the establishment of Mr. Hissey, the taxidermist, of Elizabeth-street, a pretty specimen of the proprietor's art, in the shape of a stuffed parrot. The bird is of the common green sort, but by some freak of nature presents scarcely any of the colour ordinarily belonging to the family of which it is a member. It exhibits instead a variety of hues, including brown, yellow, green, red, and black. It has been very tastefully set up by Mr. Hissey for its owner, Mr. Rowland Davies, and is one of the most pleasing of many pretty objects in the shop.
Source:Tasmanian Times (Hobart Town, Tas. : 1867 - 1870), Saturday 25 July 1868, page 2

Hobart taxidermist William Hissey acquired specimens either alive or shot, which he then eviscerated, preserved, and stuffed. It was up to local artists such as Florence Williams to render a realistic representation. Artists working initially from dead specimens would calibrate their measurements and render their colour with some painterly addition of foliage from the specimen's usual habitat. This is an example by Florence Williams of a bird native to the area of New Town (near Hobart) where she lived, ca. 1873.

Description: Florence Williams. (British / Australia 1833 – 1915)
A native bird with mountain berries and native flora, backed by Mount Wellington oil on canvas
Signed with initials FW
Original gilt frame, the image 59.8 x 45.2cm.
Florence Williams was born in the UK and exhibited at the Royal Academy. Williams moved to Australia in 1863 and lived in New Town, Tasmania from 1873 – 1875, during which this work would have been painted.
From the estate of G. T. Stilwell Private Collection Auction 2015
Lot closed - Price Realized incl. BP:$93,000
ESTIMATE: $6,000 - $10,000

William Hissey (1805-1896) whose occupation was registered as hairdresser on his death was a resident of 195 Davey Street Hobart. He died of paralysis and senile decay, 81 years old, attended by Dr. Crowther, death registered on 17 May 1896.

Thomas Nevin and the model canaries 1869
The prize cards had on them a large and well-executed photograph by Mr Nevin, photographer, of this city, of what is called in England a model canary; and, accepting that model as the correct one, the Judges found several birds which came well up to the standard —

Image from page 270 of "The illustrated book of canaries and cage-birds, British and foreign" (1878)

Tasmanian Times (Hobart Town, Tas. : 1867 - 1870), Wednesday 5 May 1869, page 2

The first Tasmanian canary and other cage bird Show, which was held at the Alliance Rooms yesterday, under the patronage of His Excellency the Governor and the Hon. Mrs. Du Cane, was a decided success. No less than two hundred and twenty song birds were exhibited, including linnets, bullfinches, goldfinches, &c., besides an English thrush and blackbird, laughing jackasses, grosbeaks, and a great variety of parrots, paroquets, cockatoos, &3., &C. His Excellency and Mrs. Du Cane, accompanied by the Honorable Sir Richard and Lady Dry and Mr Chichester (Private Secretary), arrived punctually at twelve o'clock, and made a long and careful inspection of the exhibits, expressing much gratification at the large number and. excellence of the birds sent in. Besides the birds entered for competition, many were sent in for exhibition only — by the Hon. Mrs Du Cane and Messrs. Aldred, Johnson, Pope, Powell, Crowther, Petterd, Wellington, and others whose names were not attached to the cages. Mr Cearns also sent in a vase containing gold-fish. The prize cards had on them a large and well-executed photograph by Mr Nevin, photographer, of this city, of what is called in England a model canary; and, accepting that model as the correct one, the Judges found several birds which came well up to the standard — notably the variegated yellows of Mr Northcote, Mr Aldred, and Mr Walch's buff, Mr Montgomerie's yellow, and many others specified in the subjoined prize list. Much interest was taken in seven birds at the upper part of the room, which had been entered for a sweep of seven pounds, which was carried off as follows :—

First prize of £4, Mr Pope ; second prize of £2, Mr Montgomery ; third prize of £1, Mr McCawley. All were well shaped, well marked, and, we presume, good songsters, — to our mind, the great desideratum after alL " Sacrifice colour to accomplishments. Nature seldom gives rare beauty and great accomplishments." So said William Kidd, whose treatises on the canary are known, wherever canaries are kept or bred. But there were birds to satisfy the most fastidious, of good shape, good colour, and many with splendid notes. We scarcely remember to have seen a finer collection of birds, and most heartily congratulate the projectors of the exhibition on the success which has attended their efforts. We shall hope it will stimulate them, as well as the public generally, to introduce more of the song birds, denizens of the English fields and woodlands and brook sides. Such as the Nightingale, the Blackcap, the Sedge Reed, and Willow Warblers; the little Golden-crested Wren, always welcome for his sprightly ways, and many others.

The following were the awards of the judges:—

Adult yellow cock—1st, Mr Montgomery ; 2nd, Mr Lupton. Ditto hen—1st, Mr Northcoie; 2nd, Mr Montgomery. Young yellow cock—1st, Mr McCawley; 2nd. Mr Aldred. Ditto, hen—1st, Mr Walker ; 2nd, Mr McCawley.
Adult buff cock—1st, Mr McCawley; 2nd, Mr Northcott.
Young buff cock—1st, Mr McCawley; 2nd, Mr Aldred.
Young buff hen—1st, Mr Walch ; 2nd, Mr Walch.
Young variegated yellow cock—1st, Mr Aldred.
Young buff cock—1st, Mr Welsh.
Adult buff cock—1st, Mr Welsh.
Young hen, variegated yellow—1st, Mr Northcote.
Young hen, buff variegated—1st, Mr Aldred.

Cocks—1st, Mr McCawley ; 2nd, Mr Montgomery.
Hens—1st, Mr Petterd ; yellow. 1st, Mr Johnson; mealy variegated. 2nd, Mr Aldred.

Adult yrllow cock—1, Petterd; 2, Montgomery
Adult buff cock—2, Montgomery ; ditto hen—1, Walker.
Adult yellow variegated; cock—1, Petterd ; 1, Johnson (mealy).

Variegated—1,Berwick; 1,Troupe; adult—1,Berwick

1, Marsden; 1st prize for singing birds, Marsden.

Firetails—1, Evans ; goldfinch—1, Walker ; chaffinch—1, Montgomery ; Rockhampton finches— 1, Walker; budgeree-gars—1, Mrs Birchall ; skylark—1, Lady Fleming ; zebra filches—1, Marsden ; linnet—1, Montgomery; bullfinches — 1, ditto ; linnet-mule—1, ditto; goldfinch-male— 1 ditto; collection of birds, 1 ditto; cage of finches—I, Quinlan.

Rosella—1, Petterd ; cockatoo—1, Giblin ; king parrots—1, ditto ; African parrots —1, Graham ; 2, Walker ; English magpie—1, J. ditto ; Natiee magpie—l, Barnes; Norfolk Island parrots —1, A. Walker; jackass—1, Mrs Birchall; parrakeet—I, Quinlan; pair parrots—1, ditto; pair Adelaide parrots, 1 ditto ; 1 ditto—1, Birchall; cockatoo parrot—1, Walker; green parrot —1,
Powell; pair finches—1, M'Grath.

The Belgium Canary, awarded first and second prizes at the Tasmanian canary and other cage bird Exhibition attended by Thomas Nevin in May 1869, might have sounded like this one, that is, if its species-specific song hasn't changed much since 1869.


The sensational Belgium Canary

The taxidermy specimens created by William Hissey and photographed by Thomas Nevin may well have ended up in glass cases like this one at the Museum by 1900 when librarian Alfred Taylor took this stereoscopic photograph:

A stereoscopic photograph of an interior display at the Museum.
TAYLOR, A.J. Librarian (1873-1922)
Item Number: PH30/1/2252
Start Date: 01 Jan 1900
Source: Archives Office of Tasmania

Thomas Nevin at the Poultry Show August 1869
Four months later, in early August 1869, Thomas attended the annual exhibition of the TASMANIAN POULTRY SOCIETY, but this time he photographed engravings of model birds rather than the stuffed ones. His photographs were pasted to the prize cards awarded to exhibitors, If any of these unique photographs of poultry, pigeons etc produced by Thomas Nevin as prize-cards for the 1869 Tasmanian Poultry Show have at all survived, they appear not to be extant in Australian public collections.

Source:The Tasmanian Times (Hobart Town, Tas. : 1867 - 1870) Mon 9 Aug 1869 Page 2

TASMANIAN POULTRY SOCIETY—We may remind our readers that the annual exhibition of this society, under the patronage of his Excellency the Governor and his Worship the Mayor and Aldermen commences tomorrow, and will be continued the following day. A very large number of entries have been made, so that a first-rate exhibition may be expected, and to add to its attractiveness valuable gifts of poultry, pigeons, canaries, &c. will be distributed each evening. The prize cards, which we have been permitted to inspect are beautifully executed photographs of poultry, pigeons, &c., by Mr Nevin, of this city, from engravings of model birds.
What exactly had Thomas Nevin produced as photographs for these prize cards? The journalist at the Tasmanian Times had inspected them and described them as "beautifully executed photographs ... from engravings of model birds". So whose engravings had he photographed, and why had he not just photographed live birds in their cages? Of course, in an era when the capture of a living being required complete stillness from the sitter for several minutes, the constant jerks and twitches of birds would have rendered every attempt a total blur. Only dead birds give a pleasingly sharp image. Stuffed birds would have been a handy solution, if knowing the names of the winners in advance was possible, but that too was not the case. It is entirely possible that prior to the opening of show, Thomas Nevin was not informed of the names of particular prize winners from the many dozens of different classes of entrant, so he produced instead a series of cards from engravings of "model birds" - i.e. generic images - already published from earlier poultry shows, such as these prints from the Birmingham (UK) Poultry Show which appeared in the Illustrated London News on December 10th, 1859. Without a single example, however, the exact format and appearance of Nevin's prize-cards for the 1869 Tasmanian Poultry Show will remain unknown.

BIRMINGHAM Poultry Show Prize Geese Ducks Pigeons Chickens
Antique wood engraved print taken from the Illustrated London News
December 10th.1859 1859
Sourced at eBay Nov. 4, 2017

Benchmarks 1860s-1870s
Other sources of engravings and lithographs of model birds were readily available to the family of Thomas Nevin and his fiancee Elizabeth Rachel Day by the 1860s. The Royal Society of Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) had purchased Gould's Birds of Europe, folio, 5 vols. and Gould's Humming Birds, folio. Part I. in 1852, the year following Elizabeth's uncle Captain Edward Goldsmith was elected to the Royal Society along with John Gould F. R. S. as Fellows, Corresponding Members, and Honorary Members in 1851. Offered at auction from the personal library of Dr Milligan by Mr Worley of Macquarie St, Hobart on 12 June 1860 was Swainson on Taxidermy. Another important volume on sale was "Gould's Birds of Australia Parts 7, Imperial Folio, splendid coloured plates" advertised by The Hobart Town Daily Mercury Wednesday 6 June 1860.

Thomas Nevin's father John Nevin found a wounded white goshawk at Kangaroo Valley which he showed at the Hobart offices of the Mercury, and which the newspaper duly reported on January 22, 1874. He had identified the bird from Gould's HANDBOOK to THE BIRDS OF AUSTRALIA, Vol. 2, published in 1865 as the common White Hawk (Leucospiza Novae Hollandiae - see Addenda with plates below).

WHITE HAWK.- We were yesterday shown a fine specimen of this bird wounded in Kangaroo Valley by Mr. Nevin. The bird is the common White Hawk (Leucospiza Novae Hollandiae) of this colony and Australia, and is well figured in Gould's large work on Australian Birds under the name of Astur Novae Hollandiae. Gould was formerly of opinion that the White Hawk was merely an albino variety of the New Holland Goshawk, but in his more recent work the "Handbook of Birds of Australia," he has placed it under the genus Leucospiza. This hawk is by no means rare.
Source: Mercury 22 January 1874

Another report concerning native fauna, this time about Thomas Nevin's emu, appeared in the Mercury of 22 July 1878. While employed as Keeper of the Hobart Town Hall, Macquarie Street, Thomas Nevin had kept an emu in the paddock at the back of the Town Hall which had strangled itself while trying to escape. Because it was reported as an "ornithological disaster" it may have been the Tasmanian Emu, Dromaius novaehollandiae diemenensis, now extinct, one of the few remaining of the species and rare enough to warrant its presentation to the Museum of the Royal Society (TMAG). The many volumes of Gould's books on Australian birds and animals were readily available to Thomas Nevin, his wife Elizabeth and family while resident at the Hobart Town Hall between 1876 and 1880 because the Tasmanian library's collection of valuable books and international newspapers was housed in the same building Under Alfred Taylor's watchful eye as librarian), along with the Municipal Police Office and Mayor's Court on the ground floor, and police cells in the basement.

A young Emu the property of Mr. Nevin keeper of the Town Hall, came to an untimely end last week by being strangled in trying to force itself through the fence of the paddock in which it was kept at the rear of the Town Hall. The owner states his intention to present the Emu to the Royal Society's Museum.
Thomas Nevin's emu dies at the Town Hall,
The Mercury 22 July 1878

BLAKSTONS ILLUSTRATED GUIDE, published during the 1860s-1870s in several editions was another ready source of reference.

Title: The illustrated book of canaries and cage-birds, British and Foreign
Year: 1878 (1870s)
Authors: Blakston, W. A Swaysland, W Wiener, August F
Subjects: Canaries Cage birds
Publisher: London New York : Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co.
Contributing Library: Harvard University, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Ernst Mayr Library
Digitizing Sponsor: Harvard University, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Ernst Mayr Library

Blakston et al, The Illustrated Book of Canaries and Cage Birds, published in 1878, online here or read it here at our link.

Blakston et al, The illustrated book of canaries and cage-birds, British and Foreign, p.369

Blakston et al, The illustrated book of canaries and cage-birds, British and Foreign, p.433

Blakston et al, The illustrated book of canaries and cage-birds, British and Foreign, p.443

Text on left: the Swift Parrot, Tasmania
Blakston et al, The illustrated book of canaries and cage-birds, British and Foreign, p.444

Addenda 1: Mr Nevin's White Hawk
The following short article appeared in the Mercury, 22 January 1874. "Mr. Nevin" may have been the photographer Thomas Nevin, but it is more likely to have been Thomas' father John Nevin, given the somewhat frequent mentions in the Mercury in these years to his encounters with the wildlife at Kangaroo Valley, Hobart. The wording is somewhat ambiguous: was the bird wounded by Mr Nevin? Or was it already wounded when he found it and subsequently showed it at the newspaper office?

Source:Mercury, 22 January 1874.

WHITE HAWK.- We were yesterday shown a fine specimen of this bird wounded in Kangaroo Valley by Mr. Nevin. The bird is the common White Hawk (Leucospiza Novae Hollandiae) of this colony and Australia, and is well figured in Gould's large work on Australian Birds under the name of Astur Novae Hollandiae. Gould was formerly of opinion that the White Hawk was merely an albino variety of the New Holland Goshawk, but in his more recent work the "Handbook of Birds of Australia," he has placed it under the genus Leucospiza. This hawk is by no means rare.

This first plate is Sp. 14 from Gould's Birds of Australia (1848), mentioned in the article.

Gould's white goshawk

Sp. 14
Astur novae-hollandiae

Accipiter novaehollandiae
New Holland Goshawk
White Goshawk

This second plate is Sp. 15, mentioned in the Mercury article with reference to Gould's HANDBOOK to THE BIRDS OF AUSTRALIA, Vol. 2, published in 1865. The full text is quoted below, from page 38 (see pages 37-39 for both):

Gould's white goshawk albino

Sp. 15
Astur novae-hollandiae(albino)

Accipiter novaehollandiae
White Goshawk
White Goshawk


HANDBOOK to THE BIRDS OF AUSTRALIA, Vol. 2, by John Gould 1865

White Goshawk.
Lacteous Eagle, Lath. Gen. Hist., vol. i. p. 216.
Astur Nova-Hullaiidia, Vig. & Horsf. in Linn. Trans., vol. xv. p. 179.
Astur albus, Jard. & Selb. 111. Orn., vol. i. pl. 1.
Falco Nova-Hollandia, Lath. Ind. Orn., vol. i. p. 16.
Fnlco albus, Shaw, in White's Voy., pl. at p. 260.
Sparvius niveus, Vieill. Nouv. Diet. d'Hist. Nat., tom. x. p. 338.
Uiedalion candidum, Less. Traite d'Orn., p. 66.
Astur (Leucusjnza) Nov. ffoll., Kaup, Class. der Saug. und Vug., p. 119.
New Holland White Eagle, Lath. Gen. Syn., vol. i. p. 40.
Goo-loo-bee, Aborigines of New South Wales (Latham).
White Hawk of the Colonists.
Astur Novse-Hollandise, albino, Gould, Birds of Australia, fol., vol. i. pL15.
This species has perplexed ornithologists more, perhaps, than any other member of the Raptorial Order—the point at issue being whether it be distinct or merely an albino variety of the Astur Rail. I have seen both birds in a state of nature, and critically examined numerous examples after death with regard to size, admeasurement, &c.; Slid, except in colouring, I found no difference whatever between the beautiful snow- white bird and the grey-backed individuals so frequently shot in the brushes of the eastern parts of Australia. Mr. Ronald C. Gunn and the Rev. T. J. Ewing, of Tasmania, however, incline to believe them distinct, and, in support of this opinion, call attention to the fact that none but white birds have been found in that island; but while I admit this to be true, I do not fail to recollect that- the most lovely individual I ever shot in Tasmania had fiery-red irides; still it is only fair to state they were not pink as in albinoes, and that most frequently the irides are bright yellow; the colouring of those organs therefore is evidently inconstant, and not to be depended upon as a characteristic. We know little or nothing of the nidification of either of the birds: could it be ascertained that the grey-backed and the white individuals mate with each other, they should be considered as identical; but until then it will be better, perhaps, to keep them distinct. Cuvier has hazarded the opinion that the white bird is an albino variety which has become permanent, and that they have the power of perpetuating their white vesture.
I think Professor Kaup is right in proposing a new generic title for this form, differing as it does both in structure and habits from the true Asturs, of which the A. palumbariiis is the type.
The sexes differ very considerably in size, the male being scarcely more than two-thirds the size of the female.
The whole of the plumage pure white; cere and legs yellow ; bill and claws black.
[End of transcript.]

Addenda 2: Elizabeth Gould
External links:

Elizabeth Gould
Photographer: Unknown © Courtesy Private Collection.
Source: Australian Museum ELIZABETH GOULD (1804-1841)

The John Gould Memorial commemorates John Gould, his wife Elizabeth Coxen Gould and John Gilbert. It was erected in 2004 to mark the 200th anniversary of John Gould's birth. The memorial was rededicated and a new plaque erected in April 2009 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the WA Gould League and 25 years at Herdsman Lake Wildlife Centre which opened in 1984. John Gould was a zoologist, who was born in Lyme Regis, Dorset, England. It is probable that after some slight education he served with his father as a gardener, and thus became attracted to both plants and birds. At 23 he was appointed a taxidermist on the staff of the Zoological Society of London, and in 1829 he married Elizabeth Coxen, a talented artist. In 1831-32 he published in twenty monthly parts A Century of Birds from the Himalaya Mountains, a volume notable for its eighty colour plates painted by Elizabeth Gould, and the precursor of a remarkable series of books on birds and mammals. In 1832 also he began the publication of The Birds of Europe, a work of five volumes that was completed in 1837. Gould turned his attention to the birds of Australia, and he issued in 1837-38 four parts of a so-called synopsis, with seventy-three plates by his wife, and immediately afterwards two more parts appeared. Very soon, however, he discontinued this work. He planned an expedition to Australia and he sailed in May 1838 with his wife and eldest son, aged 7, a young nephew, a man-servant and a maid-servant, and, most important, a zoological collector, John Gilbert. On 18 September 1838 in the Parsee the party landed in Hobart Town and at once Gould and Gilbert, accompanied at times by the servant James Benstead, began fieldwork in Van Diemen's Land and adjacent islands. In the following months, while Gilbert was operating in Western Australia, Gould visited New South Wales, spent several weeks exploring the Murray scrubs in South Australia, mainly in the company of Charles Sturt, and also visited Kangaroo Island. He also spent some time in Sydney, where in March 1840 he issued a prospectus relating to his proposed publications on the birds of Australia, already published before he left England, as indicated by a reprint in the Sydney Herald, 9 September 1839. The Gould party left Sydney on 9 April 1840, and publication of The Birds of Australia began in London on 1 December 1840. The final parts, making a total of thirty-six, appeared in 1848. As with his earlier books, these were published with admirable colour plates; many of the drawings had been executed by Mrs Gould, but after her death in 1841 other artists were employed. The total number of colour plates in the eight volumes is 681, and the whole production is undoubtedly the greatest of Gould's eighteen major works. Although grievously affected by his wife's death, and left with the care of six young children, he continued to work diligently at research and publishing. Gilbert died in 1845, but Gould subsidized other collectors and also kept in touch with Sturt and other explorers and naturalists in Australia. In addition to numerous papers in scientific journals, he issued works on humming-birds, on the birds of Asia, and on the birds of Great Britain, all beautifully illustrated; and during 1845-63 he produced in three volumes, The Mammals of Australia, followed in 1865 by a two volume Handbook to the Birds of Australia. He was engaged in compiling The Birds of New Guinea and the Adjacent Papuan Islands at the time of his death, and this work was completed by Dr R. B. Sharpe. During his lifetime Gould was honoured by numbers of scientific societies. Now his name persists as that of the "father" of bird study in Australia, and he is commemorated in a nation-wide institution, the Gould League of Bird Lovers.
Source: Monument Australia

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Monday, September 17, 2018

Gold seekers Thomas Nevin, John Thorpe and Duncan Chisholm 1869

JOHN NEVIN snr land grant
THOMAS NEVIN photographer
JOHN THORPE jun hotelier

The last dig at the Mt Mary gold mine Cygnet 1900
Mr Cowen, sitting, Mr Crowe & sons
Archives Office Tasmania Ref: PH30/1/5057

Gold at Port Cygnet Tasmania
It may have been an April Fool's Day joke or it may have been a bonanza. The Tasmanian Times, which regularly published information for and about photographer Thomas J. Nevin and his father John Nevin snr throughout the decade of the 1860s, may have wittingly or otherwise informed their readers on the first day of April, 1869, that Thomas Nevin and his fellow gold seekers, John Thorpe jun, former licensee of the Bush Inn at Port Cygnet, and Duncan Chisholm, school master at Rokeby, Clarence Plains, were confident enough of finding sufficient gold deposits in the area to suggest that a subsidy from local residents would encourage them to continue with further exploration.

GOLD AT PORT CYGNET. - We learn that a party, consisting of Mr Thorpe, Mr Nevin, and Mr Chisholm, have been prospecting for gold at Maggoty Gully, in this district, They found gold in small quantities in every place they tried. Several of the inhabitants are talking of getting up a subscription to encourage the party, and enable them to fully test the land in the neighbourhood.
Gold at Port Cygnet, Mr Thorpe, Mr Nevin and Mr Chisholm
Source: Tasmanian Times 1st April 1869

In 1902 Government geologist W. H . Twelvetrees reported on 31st May that he twice visited Port Cygnet "where alluvial gold was found as far back as 25 years ago, and abortive lode-mining was carried on in 1898-9". His mission was to ascertain how much the district had produced from first to last. The Mt. Mary mine, where gold was discovered in 1854, was abandoned by 1902, though a few specks were still to be found in the bedrock.

Source: Mineral Resources Tasmania

TRANSCRIPT (extract)
It is impossible now to find out exactly how much gold the district has produced from first to last, but the most trustworthy information which I have been able to collect places the figure at about 3000 ounces. Most of this came from the flats near Lymington, a township situate on the west side of the arm of the Huon called Port Cygnet, and 2½ miles south of Lovett, which is at the head of the inlet. These flats are surrounded by steep hills, from which the metal has beyond question been derived.
If 3000 ounces had been extracted from the Port Cygnet area by the time Mr Twelvetrees delivered his report in 1902, these three companions in 1869 - Thomas Nevin, John Thorpe and Duncan Chisholm - may have found enough gold to comfortably finance their next ventures.

The Three Goldseekers 
School teacher Duncan Chisholm, for example, although poorly paid for his efforts teaching children, courted and married Mary Anne Walter at Port Cygnet on 30th March 1872. He was 29 yrs old, a bachelor, she was 25 yrs old, daughter of a local farmer. The ceremony was conducted at her father's house, Wattle Grove, on the Huon River. Duncan Chisholm was one of three sons of former armorer of Edinburgh Castle, James William Chisholm, a dear friend of Thomas Nevin's father, John Nevin snr, who wrote a poem commemorating his friend's premature death in 1863. James Chisholm snr and John Nevin snr had served together in the Royal Scots 1st Regiment at the Canadian Rebellion of 1839. Their respective sons, Duncan Chisholm and Thomas Nevin were close enough friends that Thomas photographed Duncan in several locations and on several occasions. This photograph, taken by Thomas Nevin outside the Chisholm family house at 70 Brisbane Street, Hobart, ca. 1870 with Duncan Chisholm posing at the front gate was printed both in carte-de-visite and stereographic format:

The verso was inscribed by a grandchild of James William Chisholm:
"Bathurst? or Brisbane St? Hobart 1870's
"My father D. Chisholm at the gate Hobart Town"

D. Chisholm at the gate, 70 Bathurst St, Hobart
Photographer: Thomas J. Nevin, New Town Studio ca. 1870
Carte-de-visite (rectangular) on plain mount,
Photos recto and verso copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2014-2015
Taken at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, 10 November 2014
TMAG Collection Ref: Q1987.388

The verso was inscribed by a grandchild of James William Chisholm:
"Bathurst? or Brisbane St? Hobart 1870's
"My father D. Chisholm at the gate Hobart Town"

Stereograph of the same man, i.e. Duncan Chisholm in a pale suit and hat leaning on a fence outside the single-story house, identified as 70 Brisbane St. Hobart on verso of cdv above.
Photographer: Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1870
TMAG Ref: Q1994.56.17 [scans recto and verso 2015].

Again, in this photograph, Thomas Nevin's companion seated in front of the tree, hat in hand, might have been Duncan Chisholm with a supine Nevin relaxing on a grassy slope, the new Government House on the Queen's Domain clearly visible in the background . Not a selfie in today's terms, but a self-portrait nevertheless. They may have been watching activities out on the River Derwent with the arrival of the Duke of Edinburgh's yacht Galatea, January 1868, in which case the photographer who captured this scene was most likely Robert Smith, Nevin's partner in the firm Nevin & Smith, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart, who departed a few weeks later in February to set up his own studio in Goulburn, NSW. Other possible companions on the day might have been photographer Samuel Clifford, or even Thomas Nevin's younger brother Jack (Constable John or Wiliam John Nevin).

Stereograph by Thomas J. Nevin, ca. 1868-70
Self portrait (in hat) and male friend reclining on the Queen's Domain, Government House in distance.
Verso blank, inscription "Domain Hobart per G. T. Stilwell, Librarian, SLT."
Photos recto and verso copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2014-2015
Taken at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, 10 November 2014
TMAG Ref: Q16826.3

Another photograph of a young male friend, possibly Duncan Chisholm or even John Thorpe, captured him posed rather awkwardly with his left elbow propped into the crook of a bificurcated tree trunk in what appears to be an orchard.

Young man posing with left elbow against a tree trunk in an orchard
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
Photographer: Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1870
Ref: TMAG Q16826.6

John Thorpe jnr, who took over the license of the Bush Inn, Cradoc Road, Cygnet from his father John Thorp [sic] snr, between 1862 and 1864, was the oldest of the trio, a farmer by 1867 when at 35 yrs old he married Johanna Dillon, 24 years old at Port Cygnet on 14th January. A newspaper notice of a meeting held to elect Trustees of the Port Cygnet road district was attended by both father and son, differentiated for readers by the spelling of the surname: John Thorp senior - without the "e" and John Thorpe jun. with the "e". Duncan Chisholm's future father-in-law Mr H. Walter chaired the meeting.

(From a Correspondent.)
A meeting of Landholders of the road district of Port Cygnet, was held at Mr. Thorpe's the Bush Inn here, pursuant to advertisement, on Saturday last, the 31st ult., for the purpose of electing Trustees for the current year. There was a large attendance and Mr. H. Walter, of Wattle Grove, acted as chairman.
Mr. THORP, Sen .of Cradoc road, moved that the meeting at once proceed to elect Trustees [etc etc]
John Thorpe jun and John Thorp sen.
Source; The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954) Thu 5 Feb 1863 Page 2 PORT CYGNET.

Thomas Nevin was well acquainted with the area around Port Cygnet, Cradoc, and Mt. Mary because his father John Nevin snr had received a land grant of 10 acres at Cradoc in 1859. Although John Nevin snr used the land to establish orchards, he settled his family at Kangaroo Valley (now Lenah Valley) near New Town on land in trust to the Wesleyan Church, but he may have profited from the gold mining activities around Mt Mary since he too was a gold seeker, if details about his venture at the Californian goldfields, which he published in 1868 in his poem "My Cottage in the Wilderness" are taken as based in fact. These are the very verses:

In early life I sought for treasure
In the Californian Mines;
Tempted oft to ease and pleasure,
And the treacherous gamblers wines;
There no lov'd one strove to cheer me,
No smiling prattlers to caress,
Or friendly hand when sick, was near me,
No cottage in the wilderness.

Now those freaks of youth are over,
Return'd to Tasman's sea girt Isle,
A partner now reclaims the rover,
And youngsters cluster round the while,
In solitude and peace we slumber,
Far from the City's wild excess,
No faithless friend home shall cumber,
My cottage in the wilderness. [etc etc...]

Kangaroo Valley, April, 19, 1868.

Google map 2017 showing Mt Mary, Cradoc, Port Cygnet and the Huon River, south of Hobart, Tasmania.

John Nevin's Land Grant in the Parish of Bedford 1859
In 1859, John Nevin snr was granted ten acres one rood and seventeen perches in the parish of Bedford on the Huon River near Cygnet, about 60 kms south west of Hobart, but it appears he never moved his family from Kangaroo Valley to take up permanent residence on the grant. He may have used the land, however, to cultivate orchards, grow vegetables, and make jam for export. In 1870 he exhibited marrows at the Industrial Bazaar at the Hobart Town Hall. His eldest son Thomas Nevin also contributed to exhibits with photographs and stereoscopic views together with portraits by his close friend Henry Hall Baily (Mercury Friday 1st April 1870 Page 2 INDUSTRIAL BAZAAR AT THE TOWN HALL).

In 1873 he presented an exhibit of peat to a meeting of the Royal Society of Tasmania, and in 1877, he exported jam on the Southern Cross to the colony of Victoria. The peat may have been extracted from Kangaroo Valley, known originally as Sassafras Gully in the 1840s, a valley rich with the type of flora that grows as ‘wet’ and/or mixed forest in Tasmania. In 1891, the orchards on the land leased from Maria Nairn at Kangaroo Valley may have produced fruit in quantities large enough that John Nevin's sons Thomas and Jack, may have attempted mechanised packing. Their application for a patent of their fruit packer was tabled by the Hobart Fruit Board in June 1891.


John Nevin (1808-1887)
John Nevin's Deed of Land Grant
Ten acres one rood and seventeen perches in the parish of Bedford in the County of Buckingham
Dated 15th September 1859
Item Number: RD1/1/44: page 16
Description: Deeds of land grants
Further Description:
Start Date: 15 Sep 1859
End Date: 29 Oct 1859

In the Supreme Court of Van Diemen's Land BE IT REMEMBERED that on the Fifteenth day of September One thousand eight hundred and fifty-nine, Henry Hardinge Clerk in the Office of the Inland Revenue Branch of the Colonial Treasury at Hobart Town brought into this Court a certain Deed Poll or Grant under the Public Seal of Tasmania and its Dependencies to be therein enrolled and recorded the tenor of which said Deed Poll or Grant is as follows (that is to say)

Victoria by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen Defender of the Faith To all to whom these Presents shall come Greeting KNOW YE that We of Our especial grace and favour have thought for to give and grant and do by these presents by these presents for Ourself Our Heirs and Successors give and grant unto John Nevin and his heirs ALL Those Ten acres one rood and seventeen perches of Land situate and being in the parish of Bedford in the County of Buckingham in Our Island of Tasmania and bound as follows (that is to say)

On the north west by thirteen chains and eighty five links south westerly along Lot 38 commencing at the east angle thereof on a reserved road on the south west by seven chains and forty eight links south easterly along parts of Lots 37 and 33 on the south east by thirteen chains and eighty five links north easterly along Lot 30 to the aforesaid reserved road and thence on the north east by seven chains and forty eight links north westerly along that road to the point of Connors Road [?]

Together with the Appurtenances TO HAVE AND TO HOLD the said Ten acres one rood and seventeen perches of Land with the Appurtenances unto and to the use of the said John Nevin his heirs and assigns for ever the same in free and common socage tenure of Us Our Heirs and Successors to be holden YIELDING AND PAYING therefore yearly unto US Our Heirs and Successors the Quit Rent of one peppercorn if the same shall be demanded IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF We have caused these Our Letters to be made Patent and the Seal of Our said Island of Tasmania and its Dependencies to be hereunto affixed WITNESS Our trusty and well-beloved SIR HENRY EDWARD FOX YOUNG KNIGHT Our Captain-General and Governor-in-Chief in and over the Island of Tasmania and its Dependencies at Hobart Town in the said Island the Twelfth day of August in the Twenty-third year of Our reign.

By His Excellency's Command
Wm Henty
Colonial Secretary
Public seal of Van Diemen's Land now called Tasmania and its dependencies affixed
H E K Young

John Nevin (1808-1887)
John Nevin's Deed of Land Grant
Ten acres one rood and seventeen perches in the parish of Bedford in the County of Buckingham
Dated 15th September 1859
Item Number: RD1/1/44: page 16
Description: Deeds of land grants
Further Description:
Start Date: 15 Sep 1859
End Date: 29 Oct 1859

Detail of above: Nevin, John

Thomas Nevin photographed the area around the Huon in the 1860s, and acted as a guide to the Salt Caves near the town of Victoria for surveyors, providing the Lands and Survey Department with photographs of the area on commission.

Stereograph by Thomas J. Nevin, ca. 1870 of five men in a cave
Verso stamp with government Royal Arms insignia,
Inscription: "Salt Rock Cave, Victoria, Huon"
T. J. Nevin Photographic Artist, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town
Photos recto and verso copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2014-2015
Taken at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, 10 November 2014
TMAG Ref: Q16826.14

So, by 1869, 27 yr old Thomas J. Nevin, the third member of the goldseeking trio, for his part, had acquired the stock, studio, glass house and attached residence of photographer Alfred Bock at 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart when Bock departed for Victoria in 1867. Thomas Nevin continued its operation with the name "The City Photographic Establishment", while retaining his professional studio at New Town and advertising in the Tasmanian Times that his stock of stereographs and portraits were for sale at the New Town Post Office. But to maintain the larger studio in the city meant increased costs. These were offset briefly by a partnership with Robert Smith during a busy time occasioned by the visit of HRH Prince Alfred on board his yacht Galatea. They advertised the business as Nevin & Smith until Robert Smith left to start a photographic business in Goulburn NSW. The partnership was dissolved by W. R. Giblin in February 1868 and by April 1869, Thomas Nevin was seeking revenue from additional ventures. If the newspaper report titled "Gold at Port Cygnet" in the Tasmanian Times of the 1st April 1869 was not a hoax and if the trios' haul of gold from Port Cygnet was significant enough to alert the press, then Thomas Nevin could certainly proceed with his plans to marry his fiancee Elizabeth Rachel Day, the beautiful elder daughter of Captain James Day. They eventually married at the Wesleyan Chapel, Kangaroo Valley (near New Town, Hobart) in July 1871 and moved into the residence attached to their city photographic studio, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart.

Thomas Nevin's photographic excursions to places outside Hobart with friends and colleagues such as Samuel Clifford produced hundreds of commercially viable stereographs in the late 1860s, some on commission to the Lands and Survey Dept. This vista which looks south along the Huon foreshore to the buildings was taken a few years before the bridge was built in 1876, while the view with several people present looks backwards. This stereograph by Nevin bears his government contractor stamp with Royal Insignia and the name "A. Pedder" on verso, i.e. Alfred Pedder:

Stereograph by Thomas J. Nevin, ca. 1870 of river scene at Huon
Verso stamp with government Royal Arms insignia,
T. J. Nevin Photographic Artist, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart Town
Pencil inscription verso "A. Pedder".
Photos recto and verso copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2014-2015
Taken at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, 10 November 2014
TMAG Ref: Q16826.19

This vista (stereograph above) looks south to the buildings on the foreshore of the Huon River, while the view with several people present (cdv below) was taken looking back towards the same buildings.Those present may have been Duncan Chisholm's wedding guests, and no doubt Thomas Nevin would have attended the occasion on 25th March 1872 as one of Duncan's closest friends.

Duncan Chisholm's wedding party at the River Huon 1872?
Libraries Tasmania Ref: AUTAS001124075987

The House at Kangaroo Valley 1854
Thomas Nevin's father, John Nevin snr had arrived in Hobart, Tasmania, as a pensioner guard on board the convict transport, Fairlie, in 1852 with his wife Mary Ann Nevin nee Dickson and their four children - Thomas James, Mary Ann, Rebecca Jane and William John, all under 12 years old . He was granted a parcel of land in 1859 in the shire of Buckingham, near Cradoc, in the Parish of Bedford, on the Huon River. Although John Nevin snr was able to settle his wife and their four children who had all arrived with him in 1852 on the land grant in the shire of Buckingham, he settled them instead on land granted to Dr. E.S.P. Bedford situated just above the Lady Franklin Museum at Kangaroo Valley (now Lenah Valley, Hobart). He was employed by the Trustees of the Wesleyan Church to teach school at Kangaroo Valley, and granted permission to use the one acre of land on which to establish orchards and build a house. John Nevin snr resided at Kangaroo Valley until his death in 1887, firstly with his wife Mary Ann Dickson and young family, and four years after her death in 1875, with his second wife Martha Nevin nee Genge and his grandchild Minnie Carr.

So, by 1854 John Nevin was registered in the Hobart Gazette as resident schoolmaster and leasee of the school house at Kangaroo Valley, and by 1858 he had built a house there, which he called "My Cottage in the Wilderness" in a poem he published in 1868. The house was located inside the boundary just above the Lady Franklin Museum on land which was sold by the Hobart City Council on it acquisition from the Church Trustees (those originally designated by Lady Jane Franklin) in the 1920s. The area is visible in this Southern Met map of 1973:

John Nevin built his house in 1854 on land in trust to the Wesleyan Church above the Lady Franklin Museum
Lenah Valley (1973).Ref: 5172-19.
Archives Office Tasmania

The cottage that John Nevin built at Kangaroo Valley
“T. J. Nevin Photo” inscribed on verso, 1868.
Copyright © KLW NFC Imprint & The Liam Peters Collection 2010.

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. Photos copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2012 ARR.

Did John Nevin's two sons inherit the original land grant at Cradoc and Port Cygnet on his death in 1887? Apparently not. Five years before John Nevin snr died in 1887, he sold the whole ten acres (10 acres, 1 rood, 17 perches) of his land granted in 1859 at Cygnet to Thomas Genge. The sale was registered on the 26th January 1882 for £10 (ten pounds). Thomas Genge was a successor ( a son or nephew perhaps) of John Nevin's close friend and fellow Wesleyan, William Genge (1808-1881),  Chapel keeper, sexton and stonemason who had died aged 73 yrs,on 16th January 1881, one year previously. John Nevin wrote a lament on William Genge's death titled "Lines written on the sudden and much lamented death of Mr William Genge who died at the Wesleyan Chapel, Melville-street, Hobart on the morning of 17th January 1881, in the 73rd year of his age.".

William Genge was also John Nevin's father-in-law, despite both men being born in 1808. He was 71 yrs old in 1879 when he married widow Martha Salter nee Genge, William Genge's daughter, who was 46 years old. They married just four years after the death in 1875 of John Nevin's wife Mary Ann Nevin nee Dickson, mother of his two surviving children, photographer Thomas James Nevin and Constable John (William John aka Jack) Nevin. One reason for the marriage was the desire on John Nevin's part to provide a maternal presence for his grandchild Mary Ann (aka Minnie) Carr, daughter of his own daughter Mary Ann Carr nee Nevin who died in 1878 with weeks of giving birth at Sandridge Victoria. John Nevin brought his grand daughter back to Kangaroo Valley, near Hobart Tasmania, and raised her until his death. She then moved to 76 Patrick Street with her step-grandmother Martha Nevin nee Genge but died of gastric poisoning and haemorrhage in 1898.

Martha Nevin (1833-1925) was most likely instrumental in suggesting the sale of John Nevin snr's ten acres at Cygnet to her relative Thomas Genge, a farmer and neighbour at Kangaroo Valley. Just months after the death of William Genge in January 1881, Thomas Genge's wife Annie Genge nee Brown (m. 1864) gave birth at Kangaroo Valley to a boy who lived just twelve hours. The informant was the midwife, Sarah Blatherwick, nurse of Kangaroo Valley, who registered the cause of death on 24th September 1881 as  "premature birth". John and Martha Nevin arranged the sale of his ten acrres at Cygnet to the bereaved couple in January 1882, which was probably the wisest decision at the time as neither of John Nevin's sons had shown any propensity for farming. Thomas Nevin's fourth son, George Ernest Nevin (1880-1957), on the other hand, who was born at the Hobart Town Hall during his father's residency as Keeper, purchased land at Penna, 20 kms north east of Hobart, near Richmond, and farmed potatoes, although neither he nor any of his siblings resided there. On the death of their father Thomas James Nevin snr from natural causes at No. 270 Elizabeth St. Hobart in 1923, George Nevin and four of his siblings - May, Thomas, William, and Albert - moved to 23 Newdegate Street, North Hobart. Thomas Nevin's younger brother Constable John Nevin resided at H.M Prison, Campbell Street, Hobart until his untimely death from typhoid in 1891.

ADDENDA: John Nevin's deed of sale
Tasmania Historic Deeds  Lands and Titles Office

Thomas Genge  from John Nevin *DEALING 06/9071 Bedford January 1882
Tasmania Historic Deeds  Lands and Titles Office

*DEALING 06/9071 Bedford January 1882

Thomas Genge  from John Nevin *DEALING 06/9071 Bedford January 1882
Tasmania Historic Deeds  Lands and Titles Office

Detail below of above with signature of John Nevin and Thomas Genge

View here:
Or at the LIST

Pensioner Allotmentsl Parish of Bedford 1855
Archives Office Tasmania
Ref: AF396_1_88

John Nevin 1879

John Nevin senior (1808-1887), aged 71 years, photographed on the occasion of his marriage to his second wife, Martha Genge (aged 46 yrs) by his son Thomas J. Nevin at the New Town studio in 1879. Held at the Archives Office of Tasmania Ref: NS434/1/155,Photo copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2012

John Nevin (1808-1887) died in the gardens of his much beloved cottage at Kangaroo Valley on 9th October 1887. His obituary was published in The Mercury on 11th October.

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Friday, September 14, 2018

Dan Sprod and Thomas J. Nevin's photography in the 1970s

DAN SPROD papers NLA 1976
THOMAS J. NEVIN convict photographs 1870s

During the 1970s publishers John Ferguson of Sydney commissioned established authors to research and collect old photographs to be published as a series of books called "Victorian and Edwardian [insert name here of an Australian city, e.g. Sydney, Adelaide etc]  from old photographs". Patsy Adam-Smith, for example, compiled the Melbourne edition, Victorian and Edwardian Melbourne from old photographs in 1979. Dan Sprod was commissioned by Ferguson publishers to compile the Hobart edition in 1976. The draft papers of his research for this book, published in 1977 as Victorian and Edwardian Hobart from old photographs, are held at the National Library Australia, Canberra, where he was Chief Librarian during the 1960s.

The impetus behind this emergent interest in Australian 19th century and early 20th century photography was money. Old photographs and early cameras were commanding large prices at auctions. The Tasmanian Saturday Evening Mercury published this article - "Your old photos could be valuable" - on November 15th, 1975, listing the handsomely high prices fetched for old prints and photo equipment at Christies of London in the previous two years. Prints by Tasmanian photographers of the 1880s - Spurling, Anson and Beattie - were touted here as worthy collectables:

The Tasmanian Saturday Evening Mercury published this article - "Your old photos could be valuable" - on November 15th, 1975. Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2018, Taken at the NLA 11 Sept 2018

The Draft Papers 1976
Librarian, author, historian, publisher and bookseller. Thomas Daniel (Dan) Sprod was born in South Australia in 1924. He joined the National Library of Australia in 1951 and held a number of senior positions, including Liaison Officer, New York, 1957-1960. Upon leaving the National Library, he was appointed University Librarian, Morris Miller Library, University of Tasmania in 1966 and held this position until 1976. He was founder and manager of Blubber Head Press, 1978-1991, and owner of the bookshop Astrolabe Books in Hobart. In 1993, Sprod was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to literature as an author, publisher and distributor of works on Tasmanian history.
Source: National Library of Australia

Papers of Dan Sprod, 1938-2009.
Creator Sprod, Dan, 1924-
Published [1938-2009]
Medium [manuscript]
Physical Description 8.28 m. (39 boxes) + 4 fol. boxes + 1 folder.
MS 8429, Box 16:
Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2018, Taken at the NLA 11 Sept 2018

MS 8429, Box 16: Thomas J. Nevin is mentioned in the draft of Dan Sprod's research on photographer Alfred Bock but is not mentioned by name in the book.

MS 8429, Box 16: Pages 14, 15 and 16, Sprod's typed draft with corrections 1976
Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2018, Taken at the NLA 11 Sept 2018


Page 14 of Dan Sprod's draft for his book Victorian and Edwardian Hobart from Old Photographs (1977)
Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2018, Taken at the NLA 11 Sept 2018

 Alfred Bock ... built a large studio at 140 Elizabeth Street where he conducted his business for 10 year, (A photo of these premises is currently on display in the Allport Library, photographed after a Mr. Nevins had taken over the Bock studio).
One of these two photographs - possibly the first one (below) - of Nevin's studio (late A. Bock's) at 140 Elizabeth St (below) with Nevin's stamp impress at centre - is probably the one Dan Sprod saw on display at the Allport Museum, Hobart (located within the State Library of Tasmania). His informant there was no doubt Specialist Collections Librarian Geoff Stilwell, whose interest in Thomas Nevin's photography formed the decision to exhibit a handful of photographs of prisoners in 1976 at the Art Gallery of NSW (see Catalogue by Daniel Thomas below) and more than seventy (70) held in Beattie's collection at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in 1977. At the same time, a list of stereographs, studio portraits and prisoner mugshots by Thomas Nevin was compiled at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (online in 2005, now offline) from which these stereographs were copied in 2015 for our records. Although mentioned by Dan Sprod in his draft preparations in 1976,  neither of these views made it into the final book publication. The first one here with the male figure was exhibited at the Art Gallery of NSW in 2015.

Elizabeth St Hobart 1868
Stereograph by Thomas J. Nevin
TMAG Ref: Q1994-56-12

Thomas Nevin’s studio, 140 Elizabeth St. Hobart
Elizabeth Street, Hobart, ca. 1870. showing Nevin’s studio, formerly Alfred Bock’s at 140 Elizabeth St., “three doors from Patrick Street” on right, separated by a laneway at the end of which was the glasshouse.
Stereograph on buff mount
Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1870
TMAG Ref: Q1994-56-33

Dan Sprod's extended discussion of Alfred Bock's activities at Port Arthur in 1866 raised the question of why the camera was not used to photograph the inmates at the prison there before 1874, the date written on the versos by convictarian John Watt Beattie in the eary 1900s of several dozen carte-de-visite photographs in oval mounts.

Alfred Bock at Port Arthur taking panoramas 1866, Samuel Clifford supplier
Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2018, Taken at the NLA 11 Sept 2018

TRANSCRIPT extract p. 15 of draft
That he [Alfred Bock] may have been involved in historical series of photos of great interest is possible, for in April 1866 we know that Alfred was at Port Arthur taking photos, for a telegram from him to Samuel Clifford (of whom more later) has survived which asks Clifford to send 24 dry plates Panoramic by the Shannon at once. This sounds as if he was taking views of the settlement or perhaps portraits of convicts for the official record. It is somewhat strange that the authorities did not use photography before this time for recording the features of convicts - the earliest surviving photos I have been able to find is a series taken in 1874 (that is, only 3 years before the closure of the settlement). These were in the Beattie collection but could not have been taken by Beattie who did not even arrive in Tasmania until 1879. Perhaps these or others like them were taken by Bock and Clifford working in partnership. 
Here Dan Sprod missed the obvious: the penny did not drop. He would have stumbled on Thomas J. Nevin as the photographer of the extant photographs of Tasmanian prisoners - termed "convicts" in tourism discourse - in the first instance if he had followed through with his connection of " a Mr. Nevin" as the successor to Alfred Bock and to Samuel Clifford with whom Thomas Nevin had formed a close personal and professional relationship from the mid 1860s to 1878 when Clifford ceased photographic practice. In the second instance, if he had recognized the photographs for what they were - contemporary police mugshots of offenders sentenced in the 1870s  which were taken per regulations governing judicial photography in Victoria, NSW and Tasmania by 1872 - he might have realized the import of Thomas Nevin's government contractor studio stamp on "convict photographs" held in several public collections including the QVMAG, TMAG, SLTAS and SLNSW. Not to mention the fact that three of the six photographs of convicts which he requested from the QVMAG  - those of Turner, Hunt and Harrison - were copied and correctly attributed to Thomas J. Nevin when they were sent to the Art Gallery of NSW to be exhibited just a few months later, in June 1976, in plenty of time for Sprod to correct his draft before publication of his book in 1977.

The six mugshots which Dan Sprod requested from the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery had not yet been copied, so no negatives were available, according to director Frank Ellis in his letter of 6th February 1976 (below). It was up to Sprod to make arrangements and pay for the copies. This lack of copies at the QVMAG led to multiple copying in the ensuing decade, notably by Chris Long in 1985 when he reproduced forty (40) or so black and white copies of Nevin's 1870s sepia originals, but cleaned of scratches, cracks and marks, for reasons known only to Chris Long.

Dan Sprod requested each of the six photographs of convicts by a number using a list which the QVMAG had compiled and typed up - in no particular order - in 1956 of 200 mugshots from their John Watt Beattie Collection. Researchers and archivists in the 1950s included Peter Eldershaw and Ms Wayn at the Archives Office of Tasmania who may have been contemplating a publication of the collection. This is the list of six which Dan Sprod requested from the QVMAG in January 1976:

Letter from Dan Sprod to Frank Ellis, QVMAG 28 Jan 1976 re convicts
Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2018, Taken at the NLA 11 Sept 2018

1956.78.11/13 Photographs of convicts at Port Arthur
(Beattie Collection)
The numbers cited are from the bottom of each oval photo.
no. 38 Thomas Jackson
      39 Thomas Harrison
    162 Charles Rosetta
        2 William Yeomans
      31 William Turner
      34 Nathan Hunt
Negatives exist for these photos, I believe. Similar prints, glossy would be O.K. In 6 x 4 standard size? Something of this order would suffice.
Negatives did not exist for the six photographs of convicts, according to Frank Ellis who replied by letter to Dan Sprod on 6th February 1976:

Letter to Dan Sprod from Frank Ellis, 6th Feb 1976
Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2018, Taken at the NLA 11 Sept 2018

Negatives have not been prepared for the convict photographs you have selected so these, and all the others, must be photographed at your cost... all negatives are to be returned to us and the originals held no longer than is necessary.
Were all negatives and originals returned to the QVMAG, then in 1976/1977? Probably not. A sizeable collection of seventy (70) or so, housed in an old leather album from the QVMAG, was given to the National Library of Australia in 1985 by John McPhee, curator in 1977 of the QVMAG exhibition of convict portraits with T. J. Nevin's correct photographer attribution. In 1983-84 another fifty (50) or so were taken from the QVMAG to be exhibited at the Port Arthur prison heritage site, which were not returned to the QVMAG, deposited instead in the current Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery collections and with an incorrect photographer attribution to the prison commandant A. H. Boyd.  A veritable feast and frenzy of copying, lending, borrowing for exhibitions and publications at Hobart, Launceston, Port Arthur, Melbourne and Sydney has resulted in the dispersal (and disappearance) of so many of these police mugshots, all catalogued and referenced by the genteel photo-historian community as "convict portraits". From John Watt Beattie's use of these same police/convict photographs in the early 1900s for sale at his museum and shop in Hobart and for inclusion in travelling exhibitions associated with the fake convict hulk Success to Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Hobart, the date "1874" has been fixed as the date when the photographs were taken, simply because Beattie et al wrote the inscription "Taken at Port Arthur 1874" on the versos of all those chosen for exhibition, when the actual date of photographic capture and place of imprisonment of the prisoner sitting in front of photographer Thomas Nevin varied greatly. From early February 1872 to 1886, most - if not all - were taken by Thomas Nevin and his brother Constable John Nevin in Hobart at the Hobart Gaol, the Mayor's Court, and the Municipal Police Office, Hobart Town Hall. The date "1874" was used by Beattie et al to entice tourists to the ruins of the Port Arthur prison by association with the hugely successful novel by Marcus Clarke, For the Term of His Natural Life, published as a book in 1874.

The Book 1977

Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2015
Victorian and Edwardian Hobart from old photographs / [compiled by] Dan Sprod.
Publisher: St. Ives, N.S.W. : John Ferguson, 1977.
Description: 1 vol.
ISBN: 0909134065 :
Notes: Hobart. Social life, 1850-1910. Illustrations (ANB/PRECIS SIN 0152382)
Subjects: Hobart (Tas.)--History--Pictorial works.
Hobart (Tas.)--Social life and customs--Pictorial works.
Other Authors: Sprod, Dan, 1924-, comp.
Bib ID: 2222496


Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2015
Victorian and Edwardian Hobart from old photographs / [compiled by] Dan Sprod.
Publisher: St. Ives, N.S.W. : John Ferguson, 1977.

The published introduction omitted the reference in the draft to Thomas Nevin altogether. Sprod's earlier typed draft mentioned "a Mr. Nevins" who photographed Bock's studio, The City Photographic Establishment at 140 Elizabeth St Hobart after the departure of Alfred Bock to Victoria in 1867. The photograph was on display at the Allport Museum in Hobart at the time Sprod noted it. The "s" which Sprod has appended to "Nevin" - i.e. Nevins [sic] - had appeared on both Nevin's early photographic stamp and in his  newspaper advertisements while operating from his New Town studio premises until 1867. But where Dan Sprod found the information on Thomas Nevin in order to use the "Nevins" spelling with the "s" and not T. J. Nevin or Thos Nevin which appeared on Nevin's later studio stamps and impress, is not listed in any of his drafts or in the final publication.

In his draft papers of 1976, as well as in the book, Dan Sprod raised the issue of the missing five calotype views of different localities in Hobart taken in 1853 by Douglas T. Kilburn. Kilburn tabled the views at the Royal Society of Tasmania on 3rd December 1853, the day he delivered a lecture on the calotype process to the Royal Society. It was one of the first photography lecture-demonstrations and was published in the Society's journal in January 1854. Sprod wrote to London's Fox Talbot Museum hoping they may have been deposited there after they were exhibited at the Paris Exposition of 1855, without luck. So it seems that Kilburn's Hobart calotypes were missing earlier than 1976 when Sprod searched for them, or indeed they are extant in public collections with incorrect attribution to another calotypist.

No index was included in the final book, nor were attributions by name to Thomas Nevin for several of his photographs, for example, this reproduction from Nevin's stereograph of a group at the Lady Franklin Museum (two copies are extant: this one is held at the TMAG and another held in the Royal Society collection, University of Tasmania Library). The date given by Sprod is a little too early, it was taken by Nevin ca. 1867-8 in a series of stereographs he produced for visitors to Kangaroo Valley (now Lenah Valley) where Thomas Nevin's father, teacher, journalist and poet John Nevin snr built the family house in 1854 on land in trust to the Wesleyan church, adjacent to the Lady Franklin Museum:

Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2015

172. Right. Not Greece but Van Diemen's Land, ca. 1860. Lady Jane Franklin's romantic ideas found expression in this tiny Greek temple, erected in 1842-43 on her Lenah Valley estate, Ancanthe, The building, which still stands, was intended as a museum, particularly for indigenous products.

Group on the steps of Lady Franklin's Museum, Ancanthe, Kangaroo Valley, Hobart.
Stereograph by Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1868
TMAG Ref: Q1994.56.34


Photo No. 162 was taken in Beattie's studio in the 1890s
Photos No, 163, 164, 165 and 166 were taken by T. J. Nevin in the 1870s
Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2015

CAPTION for No. 163:
163. Nathan Hunt, arrived by ship Elphinstone, 28 July 1842, age fourteen, "character very bad", offence - stealing a watch. This portrait and the three below, from Beattie's collection, were taken at Port Arthur in 1874, three years before the convict station was abandoned.
Thomas Nevin's original unmounted sepia cdv of prisoner Charles Rosetta was also printed as a mounted cdv, numbered recto and and transcribed verso with Beattie's selling point; "Taken at Port Arthur 1874". Charles Rosetta was in fact photographed by Thomas Nevin on Rosetta's discharge from the Hobart Gaol, 6th December 1876.

Tasmanian convict Charles Rosetta, 1876, photographed by Thomas J. Nevin for gaol records
From Tasmanian Views, Edward Searle's album ca. 1911-15
Photos taken at the National Library of Australia, 7th Feb 2015
Photos copyright © KLW NFC 2015 ARR. Watermarked.

Prisoner Charles Rosetta
Photographer: T. J. Nevin
QVMAG Ref: 1985_P_0125

Verso: Prisoner Charles Rosetta
Photographer: T. J. Nevin
Verso inscribed "Taken at Port Arthur 1874" by Beattie et al early 1900s
QVMAG Ref: 1985_P_0125

The details of the prisoner's arrival, his ship, his crime in some instances, and the phrase "Taken at Port Arthur" has become conventionally accepted, but it is not factual: Beattie et al wrote the name of the prisoner, his ship of arrival, the date 1874 and the prison as Port Arthur on the versos of dozens of cdvs mounted in oval frames purely in the interests of promoting tourism to Tasmania on behalf of the government in the early 1900s. Rosetta's cdv (above) is typical of the treatment.

Dan Sprod had requested a copy of the photograph of prisoners Thomas Harrison and William Turner along with four other prisoners in his letter of January 1976 to the QVMAG, but the photographs of Harrison and Turner were omitted in the final book publication. The same prisoner photographs -  of William Turner, Thomas Harrison and Nathan Hunt - were sent to an exhibition to mark the centenary of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney in 1976, several months before the publication of Sprod's book, which may account for the selection, though not for the fact that Sprod omitted Thomas J. Nevin as the photographer and included only his speculation about Alfred Bock and Samuel Clifford. The AGNSW 1976 catalogue  was written by Daniel Thomas,  titled "Australian art in the 1870s",  Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney: 25 June-2 August 1976; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne: 28 October-21 November 1976, with information from Geoff Stilwell at the Allport Museum, Hobart.

CATALOGUE excerpt AGNSW 1976:
T. J. Nevin active 1870s
Tasmanian convicts (1874)
116. William Turner, Transported Lord Goderich (Boy's ship), 1811-1841.
117. Nathan Hunt, Transported Elphinstone (Boys), 28.7.1842, Larceny
118. Thomas Harrison, Idle and disorderly.
Three photographs, carte-de-visite size 10.5 x 6.5 cm, 4½ x 2½ in, each inscribed (on back) as above, and printed T. J. Nevin, 140 Elizabeth Street, Hobart Town. From a set of over 40 convict portraits made in 1874.
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, Tasmania

Prisoner William TURNER
QVMAG Ref: QVM 1985: P: 90 or 1985_p_0090
Photographer: T. J. Nevin
Taken at the Hobart Gaol and Municipal Police Office, Hobart, 1878-9
Exhibited at the Centenary of the Art Gallery NSW, Sydney, 1976

Verso: Prisoner William TURNER
QVMAG Ref: QVM 1985: P: 90 or 1985_p_0090
Catalogue No. 116. William Turner, Transported Lord Goderich (Boy's ship), (18/11/1841).

Prisoner Nathan HUNT
QVMAG Ref: QVM 1985_p_0073
Catalogue No. 117. Nathan Hunt, Transported Elphinstone (Boys), 28.7.1842, Larceny 9-1-79

Verso: Prisoner Nathan HUNT
QVMAG Ref: QVM 1985_p_0073
Catalogue No. 117. Nathan Hunt, Transported Elphinstone (Boys), 28.7.1842, Larceny 9 -1-79

Prisoner Thomas Harrison
Catalogue No. 118. Thomas Harrison, Idle and disorderly. P.O. Sorell 3 months Jany 1875

Verso: Prisoner Thomas Harrison
Catalogue No. 118. Thomas Harrison, Idle and disorderly. P.O. Sorell Jany 1875

This photograph of Thomas Harrison was included in a short biographical entry on Thomas J. Nevin written by Joan Kerr and Geoff Stilwell in which they dismiss the claim made by Chris Long in the mid 1980s, published in 1995, that A.H. Boyd was the photographer of the cdvs known as the Port Arthur convict cartes, 1874, or that he was a photographer at all. They state:
Some of the seventy cartes-de-visite identification photographs of Port Arthur convicts taken in the 1870s (QVMAG) at about the time the settlement was closed (1876) have been attributed to Nevin because they carry his studio stamp. He possibly held the government contract for this sort of criminal recording work, although Long believes that he was merely a printer or copyist and suggests that the most probable photographer was the commandant A.H. Boyd. However, professional photographers were employed to take identification photographs in Australian prisons from the beginning of the 1870s (see Charles Nettleton) and while a collection of standard portrait photographs and hand-coloured cartes-de-visite undoubtedly by Nevin is in the Archives Office of Tasmania no photographs by Boyd are known.
Entry of Thomas J. Nevin, pp 568-9
The Dictionary of Australian artists : painters, sketchers, photographers and engravers to 1870, edited by Joan Kerr. Publisher: Melbourne : Oxford University Press, 1992.

Read more about of each of these prisoners and their mugshots by T. J. Nevin:

Dan Sprod 1977

Photo of Dan Sprod and short bio on back cover flap of the book 
Victorian and Edwardian Hobart from Old Photographs (1977)
Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2015

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