Fraudulent pretensions

There are several reprints of a particular photograph of empty streets and the penitentiary at the Port Arthur prison site which was taken in the 19th century by an unknown photographer, possibly Thomas Nevin and Samuel Clifford on government business in the mid 1870s, or Henry Hall Baily and Alfred Winter accompanying tourists to the derelict prison between 1878 and 1880. It may have been John (Joshua) Anson's original photograph, taken as late as 1888 when it was published in scenic albums by the Anson Bros in 1889. The point here is this: the original photograph has a different title from the one printed later in scenic albums; it has no pencilled inscription on the lower right -hand corner mentioning "A. H. Boyd";  it is not a stereograph; and as a viewer, you can see that there are no people in the photograph. This is a photograph of buildings: it is not a photograph of a man in prison clothing.

State library of NSW
Port Arthur, Graphic Materials, PXA 609/30-55
Beattie, J. W. (John Watt) 1859-1930
Inscription on recto: "Penitentiary, Port Arthur, Anson Hobart 119?"
Ref: 025320016h

This is the single original photograph printed by John or Joshua Anson ca. 1888. The Anson Bros (Henry and Joshua) subsequently printed this image with different borders, and included it in various scenic albums in the name of tourism. The Mercury of 20th June 1889 announced the publication of the first edition of one of their albums containing a reprint of this photograph, titled Port Arthur Past and Present , emphasising that "the 'past' portion of the views has been obtained from negatives purchased by the publishers". In other words, this photograph was probably reproduced from an earlier photographer's negative. Given that the stock of negatives from the studios of Thomas Nevin(1876/1888) and Samuel Clifford (1878) were acquired by the Ansons before this album was published, its provenance was most likely from the "past portion" purchased by the Ansons.

PORT ARTHUR PAST AND PRESENT.-We have to acknowledge receipt from Messrs. Anson Bros, of a copy of this photographic work which has just been issued from their studio. The historical interests which are attached to the views should alone create a large demand for the book,, but aside from this, as a work of photographic excellence, it is entitled to a very high place. The "past" portion of the views has been obtained from negatives purchased by the publishers, and gives the possessor of the work a thorough knowledge of' the chief features of the old penal settlement. The views in the present issue number 12, and are as follow:-Port Arthur in 1888, During Convict Occupation, Dead Island, Penitentiary during occupation, Interior of Penitentiary, Hall Model Prison, Chapel, Model Prison, General View of Model Prison, Invalid Depot, Dead Island from Point Puer Cliffs, Point Puer, Coast view. The album has been got up In really first-class style, and reflects much credit on Messrs. Anson Bros.' taste and enterprise.
Source: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page823472

The Anson Albums
The State Library of NSW holds this album and at least three others in which the same image of the Port Arthur buildings appears. However, with the focus now on the questionable pencilled inscription on one of the photographs, the library's catalogue notes have cross-references to the image in a plethora of entries. For example, this catalogue uses the call no: DL PXX 64:
Title Port Arthur Past & Present / by Anson Bros.
Creator Anson Brothers
Date of Work 1820; 1845; 1878-1895
Call Number DL PXX 64
Physical Description Albums : 1 album (13 albumen photoprints, 4 printed items , one with MSS annotations) ; 36.3 x 48.5 cm.
Signatures / Inscriptions
Title taken from spine.
"Settlement of Port Arthur (Penal Settlement) Past and Present, Photographed by Anson Bros., Wellington Bridge, Hobart" -- title page.
General Note
Description taken from title printed on the mount; 8 images have a slightly varying title printed along lower edge of photograph
This album holds some prints that are housed in Settlement of Port Arthur (Penal Settlement), Past and Present, / Photographed by Anson Bros ... (PXD 512 and PXD 513).
Two further albums Settlement of Port Arthur (penal settlement), past and present / photographed by Anson Bros. are held in the State Reference Library collection at TX00284 and TX00285.
In all, there are at least six albums of Tasmanian scenes at the State Library of NSW which have been attributed to the Anson Bros. located at these call numbers: PXD 511, PXD 512,  PXD 513, PXD 516. The album which bears the fake inscription - at PXD 511 - is currently listed online with notes about John Watt Beattie yet there is no mention here of Boyd, just in the contents list with this description. Note that it does NOT say "taken by A.H. Boyd":

10. Port Arthur during convict occupation. Enlargement from a stereoscopic view by A.H. Boyd [Commandant, Port Arthur l87l-74]
Views in Tasmania, Vol. II, ca. 1885-1894 / Anson Brothers
Creator Anson Brothers
Level of Description
Date of Work ca. 1885-1894
Type of Material
Graphic Materials
Call NumberPXD 511
Physical Description1 album (38 photographs): 32 albumen, 6 carbon; various sizes
Administrative / Biographical Note
J.W. Beattie was employed at Anson Brothers, 1882-1891. In 1891, Beattie purchased the studio and its stock, later printing under his own name.SourceTransferred from Printed Book collection F986/3A2, December 1984.Copying ConditionsOut of copyright - Created before 1955
Date Note
Undated. Dated by comparison with prints in accompanying volume.Signatures / InscriptionsSome prints are signed 'Anson Brothers'. Each photograph is titled on print or in pencil on mount.
This is the album at PXD 513 in which the original image is mounted within a crossed red frame:

Ansons Bros. photographic album, Port Arthur Past and Present (1889)
State Library of NSW. Call No: PXD 513
Photos copyright KLW NFC 2009

The same title inscription on the image as above, inside the border
Red crossed border, and below the border,  the Anson Bros (plural) and a more elaborate title:
"Anson Bros. Hobart.
The Penitentiary Port Arthur during Convict Occupation".
Photos copyright © KLW NFC 2009 ARR

But only ONE of those prints of the photograph of Port Arthur buildings has this pencilled inscription written in a modern hand -
"Enlargement from a stereoscopic view by A H Boyd Esq." 
It is catalogued at PXD512/ f6. with this misleading and erroneous statement:
The photographs are not dated.
The earliest date is that of the Penitentiary (no.6) taken by A.H. Boyd, Camp Commandant 1871-1874. (see Views in Tasmania, Vol. II, ca. 1885-1894 / Anson Brothers. PXD 511/no. 10 ‘Port Arthur during convict occupation’)
The latest date is the end of the Anson Bros. partnership.
The mechanical eye in Australia : photography 1841-1900 / Alan Davies & Peter Stanbury ; with assistance from Con Tanre. Melbourne : Oxford University Press, 1985.
This note about A. H. Boyd has recently appeared in the SLNSW catalogue entries (post 2010) with a forceful phrase "taken by A.H. Boyd" in an attempt to cover-up the gullibility of conventional photohistorians in publishing nothing more than a rumour spread by Boyd's descendants in the 1990s that he was "the author" of the extant "Convict portraits, Port Arthur 1874" collection of prisoner mugshots held at the National Library of Australia and elsewhere. The Anson album photograph of the Port Arthur penitentiary buildings and empty streets is not a mounted carte-de-visite photograph of a man in prison clothing, yet the curator of photographs at the State Library of NSW, Alan Davies, has proposed it is sufficient evidence to warrant a claim that A.H. Boyd was a photographer where no evidence is to be found anywhere, and to extend that claim to a proposition that Boyd was also the photographer of the "bulk" of the 300 extant prisoner cartes, despite all the available historical evidence of attribution to Thomas J. Nevin. As recently as August 2009, Alan Davies maintained that proposition, which is founded in the cliched equation "Tasmania + convicts = Port Arthur" in an email to this weblog, extracts of which are quoted here:
... the attribution of the several hundred portraits known as the convict photographs is unresolved ... please see Anson Bros Views in Tasmania Vol II. (PXD511/ f10) The view looking south from the slope opposite the Penitentiary is inscribed on the mount in a contemporary hand "Enlargement from a stereoscopic view by A H Boyd Esq." This view also appears in Anson Bros., Settlement of Port Arthur (Penal Settlement ) Past and Present. We have two copies (PXD512 and PXD513) and the references to the Boyd image in both are PXD 512/f4 and PXD 513/f6. Comparison of this photograph with the images in the Anson/Beattie collection titled Port Arthur during occupation , leads to the conclusion that they may also be by Boyd. It would seem that like many Tasmanian photographers, Boyd s work was subsumed by the Anson/Beattie archive, leading to later problems of attribution. (Alan Davies, email to this weblog August 2009)
This is the print in question: the same photograph and the same image as the two above, in a different Anson album and with the pencilled inscription about A. H. Boyd which carries all the weight of a rumour and none of the substance of facts.

The print f10 with note about Boyd

State Library of NSW
Anson Bros Views in Tasmania Vol II. (PXD511/ f10)
Photos © KLW NFC 2009 Arr

This is it: the reprint in Anson Bros Views in Tasmania Vol II. (PXD511/ f10) with the pencilled inscription, "Enlargement from a stereoscopic view by A H Boyd Esq." This second volume appears to have been accredited to the Ansons on accession at the SLNSW by a process of deduction and reference to the more elaborately framed versions of the same images in the first volume of Views in Tasmania. The descriptions of the images therefore in this second volume were attributed by staff at the SLNSW in 1964, based on assumptions and cross-referencing to Vol. 1 and to the other prints bearing Ansons' name inside the frames of the other three albums at PXD 510, 513 and 514. A pencilled note on one of the volumes states:

2 Vols:
"The first photo gives a scene taken in 1894 & this, doubtless, is the approximate date of the whole series of photos in these 2 Vols."

How elaborate all this cross-referencing has become since our focus has been to examine the authenticity of the pencilled note about A.H. Boyd. See this related article: Improprieties; A H Boyd & the Parasitic Attribution

Fraudulent Pretensions
This ONE print, an enlargement of a (supposed) stereograph held at the Mitchell Library, SLNSW, which the curator of photographs maintains is evidence of Boyd's photographic talent, was not even noted as an image by Boyd in the SLNSW's catalogue entry for the album in which it appears, evidenced by this webshot taken in 2009:

SLNSW  PXD 511 Ansons

Anson Bros Views in Tasmania Vol II.(PXD511)

The album itself was bound in red leather by the Royal Museum Scotland, owned by Capt A.W.F. Fuller in 1946, donated by his wife and accessioned by the State Library of NSW in 1964.

SLNSW VOl. 2 PXD 511

Vol. 2, Album bound in Scotland, inside cover with dates
Photos copyright KLW NFC 2009 Arr

Below is the image used as the basis of the claim to be by A.H. Boyd. It is No. 10 in this album, (PXD511/ f10) and has a pencilled note underneath, " Enlargement from a stereoscopic view by A H Boyd Esq."

None of the other prints in this album, Vol. 2, has a similar note or additional inscription, and this single fact raises questions and suspicions as to why it was added. In addition, the note about Boyd is so indistinct, not even a magnifying glass renders it visible, e.g.

Mitchell Library, SLNSW
Views in Tasmania, Vol. II, ca. 1885-1894 / Anson Brothers. 
PXD 511/no. 10 ‘Port Arthur during convict occupation’
Taken at the SLNSW
Photos copyright © KLW NFC 2009 ARR

According to Alan Davies, curator of photographs at the SLNSW, co-author of the 1985 publication The Mechanical Eye in Australia, and one of several people who received a letter from Chris Long ca 1984 suggesting Boyd was a photographer (despite no evidence), this ONE enlargement dated 1894 by the SLNSW, reprinted from an original stereograph (?) which is likely to be an original by Nevin or Clifford ca. 1874 is THE ONLY image underpinning the vapid claim that Boyd photographed prisoners. The stereograph (?) is not even a photograph of a prisoner. It is an enlarged reprint by the Anson Bros of an image of empty streets and the Port Arthur penitentiary which is also held at the Archives Office of Tasmania, dated 1880 and unattributed. The same image appears in an Anson album held at the State Library of Tasmania, dated ca. 1875, and may have been taken by H.H. Baily (see PHILADELPHIA Exhibition notice below):

This is the same image at the Archives Office of Tasmania, unattributed and dated 1880:

The image was reprinted in another album by the Ansons, held at the State Library of Tasmania, and dated ca. 1875, per this catalogue entry:

The aggressive promotion of this notion - that Civil Commandant A. H. Boyd was not only a photographer, but THE photographer of the extant 300 Tasmanian prisoners' carte-de-visite photographs - is one of the fictions created for the commercial promotion of the Port Arthur Historic Site as Tasmania's premier tourist destination. The notion, as demonstrated, has no basis in fact. If the pencilled note under the image attributed to Boyd in the Anson Album at the SLNSW (PXD 511/f10) existed prior to 1983, why had Chris Long NOT known about it when researching the prisoner cartes in Tasmania and duly referenced it in notes left there, and which were then forwarded to the NLA in 1982 when their prisoner cartes were being accessioned?  Chris Long had certainly not heard of any so-called "Port Arthur photographer" by the name of A. H. Boyd, amateur or otherwise, when he submitted a draft copy of his list of early Tasmanian photographers to Dan Sprod, former Chief Librarian at the National Library of Australia (17th July 1983, NLA Dan Sprod MS 8429 Box 1): T.J. Nevin's name on that list, however, is asterisked "to indicate the photographer's work survives in reasonable quantities." Chris Long blamed difficulties with his editor Gillian Winter (TMAG, 1995) and rumours spread by A. H. Boyd's descendants for publishing this furphy.

It would seem that this pencilled note underneath the image at the SLNSW was written sometime between 1984 and 1992, when Joan Kerr et al publicly refuted Chris Long's hypothesis about Boyd in their entry on Thomas J. Nevin (page 568, The Dictionary of Australian Artists: painters, sketchers, photographers and engravers to 1870, (Melbourne: Oxford University Press). Someone then pencilled the note -

"Enlargement from a stereoscopic view by A H Boyd Esq."

- underneath the reprint to support Chris Long and his "belief" in Boyd based on

(a) a 1930s children's fictional story by a Boyd descendant
(b) rumours spread by Boyd's descendants in the 1990s
(b) glass plates listed as cargo for Port Arthur in July 1873.

Fraudulent pretensions beget fraudulent pretensions, it seems. Or the case may be that the Boyd apologists have mistaken his ownership of a print for his authorship. The SLNSW holds another document with Boyd's name scribbled on the cover, a legal document by Rocher published in the 1850s on prison discipline which Boyd kept in his office.

Genesis of the A.H. Boyd Misattribution
A.H. Boyd (1827-1891) was a Hobart-born accountant appointed to government service in 1848. He served at the Port Arthur prison as Civil Commandant from 1871 until his forced resignation in December 1873 under allegations of corruption and nepotism directed at his brother-in-law Attorney-General W.R. Giblin in Parliament (Walch's Tasmanian Almanac 1873; Australian Dictionary of Biography online; The Mercury, July 1873 ). He married Giblin's sister Henrietta in 1871. His subsequent appointments were in the administration of welfare depots. He was acting as coroner at Franklin, 28 miles south of Hobart shortly before his death (Walch's Tasmanian Almanac 1889, p.319). Boyd's obituary published in The Mercury, 24th November 1891, made no mention, of course, of photography for the simple and very real reason that he was not a photographer.

In 1979, Margaret Glover published a paper about Port Arthur titled Some Port Arthur Experiments (In: T.H.R.A. Papers and Proceedings, vol. 26 no. 2, Dec. 1979, pp. 132-143). Glover does NOT mention or reference a children's story in script form (dated 1930), written by Edith Mary Hall nee Giblin, daughter of Attorney-General W.R. Giblin and niece of A.H. Boyd, yet this children's fiction about the narrator's childhood visits to Port Arthur and posing for a photograph is referenced as a factual reminiscence of Port Arthur by Warwick Reeder 1995.This single memory, of a child aged less than five years old, delivered as a talk in 1930, and reprised by Warwick Reeder, citing Chris Long in 1995, is the kernel and genesis of the myth of A.H. Boyd as an amateur photographer of convicts.

For reasons best known to amateur photo historian Chris Long and his editor Gillian Winter in the publication Tasmanian Photographers 1840-1940: A Directory (1995, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery), their supposed perusal of a document (Tasmanian Papers 320, SLNSW ) showing that a cargo of 288 photographic plates was intended for delivery to government stores at Port Arthur in July 1873, suggested to them that this same Commandant at Port Arthur, A. H. Boyd, had personally taken photographs of the prisoners there, the same photographs now extant in public collections at the NLA, the TMAG, and the QVMAG etc, which have a published and curatorial attribution to Thomas J. Nevin (1977, 1978, 1984, 1992, 1995, 2000, 2009, 2010). Nevin's stamp bearing the government Royal Arms insignia on several cartes in public collections was sighted and validated by Long, despite his idle suggestions about Boyd.

Illogical as it now seems, this implausible idea and impossible scenario about Boyd, or" belief" as Long phrases it (p. 36, TMAG 1995), had a certain appeal for photo historians in the late 20th century who wished to mobilise the Foucauldian tropes of surveillance by the powerful of the powerless within postmodernist discourse (Reeder 1995, Ennis 2000, Crombie 2004).

There was one problem for Chris Long et al, namely the discrepancy between July 1873 when the plates supposedly arrived at Port Arthur and the date of "1874" which appears in the handwritten transcription "Taken at Port Arthur, 1874" across the verso of many of these prisoners' images, an inscription most likely devised by Beattie to excite interest in his displays of convictaria at his museum in Hobart. No discussion ensued that countenanced an error concerning the date 1874, made perhaps much later by commercial photographers Beattie or Searle reprinting these mugshots in the 1900s for tourists, or by the archivists Ms Wayn and Peter Eldershaw at the AOT 1920s, 1950s or even later museum and library workers at the QVMAG from the 1960s-1980s who numbered them again and dispersed the duplicates to libraries, museums and heritage sites (NLA, TMAG, ArchivesTas, Port Arthur HS etc).

Harriet's way bill, 30th July 1873.
Cargo of 288 photographic glasses listed for Port Arthur
Tasmanian Papers Ref: 320, SLNSW

To account for the discrepancy between July 1873, the date of the schooner Harriet's way bill listing of 288 photographic glasses, and 1874, Chris Long et al decided that the plates were used by Boyd personally, and that they were printed in 1874 by Nevin, at least six months later. An unscientific supposition about wet and dry collodion processes was used as collateral. No cross-referencing was made to the police records of individual convicts, no research was conducted on Nevin's professional contracts apart from a few details derived from Kerr (ed, 1992), no commercial photographer other than Nevin was considered, and no evidence given that could validate the proposition of Boyd ever having held a camera, let alone the training, skills and equipment required to use the plates.

The insistence that the prisoners were photographed at Port Arthur by Boyd was grounded in Long's belief that the wet plates needed to be processed in situ; yet Nevin's partner Samuel Clifford was well-known for his dry-plate expertise in the 1860s and so was Nevin. In any event, any photograph taken at Port Arthur by these two photographers, whether of landscapes, buildings, prisoners and prison officials, was developed and printed within their own extensively equipped Hobart-based commercial studios. The impracticality of photographing prisoners en masse at Port Arthur after July 1873, the date when the plates supposedly arrived, would have been obvious to the photographers because the prisoners were already being transferred to the Hobart Gaol, a process begun by 1871. Sixty prisoners had already been returned to Hobart when Attorney-General Giblin tabled his report in May 1873.

Another obvious question which Chris Long and his editor never countenanced was this: what happened to the police photographs taken in , say 1875, or 1876, or the other 2500 negatives of prisoners taken by Nevin during his service as police photographer. The 200 extant photographs they wish to bless with an aethete's gaze and touch are in fact randomly salvaged estrays from that much larger corpus commissioned by the Hobart City Council's Land and Survey Dept, the Municipal Police Office,  and the Hobart Gaol from Nevin's first contract in January 1873 to his last ca. 1886.

"Taken at Port Arthur 1874"
Verso of convict carte (inserted) at the NLA

A. H. Boyd had no reputation in his own lifetime as a photographer, none subsequently, and no works by him are extant, yet he suddenly entered photohistory as an “artist” in 1995 due largely to Warwick Reeder’s reprisal of a children’s story written by a Boyd family member, and a cargo list.Thomas Nevin, well-known within his lifetime as a contractual commercial photographer, civil servant, and special constable with the Municipal and Territorial Police, and with a sizeable legacy dating from the 1860s held in State, National and private collections, was effectively dismissed as a "copyist" by Chris Long. Authoritative commentators who were aware of the problem ensured Chris Long was named as someone in error on this matter when Nevin's biographical details were published in 1992 ( Willis, Kerr, Stilwell, Neville, etc).

Chris Long's "belief" in Boyd was a very curious manipulation of facts, a vague and sudden photographer attribution to a person by the name of A. H. Boyd whose descendant Mr. I. Boyd had donated a photograph of a youthful Boyd taken by Charles Woolley in the 1860s to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in 1978. This single photograph was used to buttress the whole collection of prisoners' photographs with Boyd's name as the photographer based on nothing other than a descendant's whim.  Even more strange is the fact that the State Library of Tasmania's considerable holdings of photographs dated between 1871 and 1873 were taken by Samuel Clifford around Port Arthur: the buildings, the visitors, the officials etc etc, yet Clifford's name never entered the mix. Furthermore, these photographs of Port Arthur mounted with Clifford's stamp cannot be accurately dated, since Clifford advertised in The Mercury, January 17th, 1876, that he had acquired the interest in Nevin's commercial negatives and would reprint them for Nevin's patrons on request.

If a cargo of glass plates arrived at Port Arthur in July 1873, they may have been used by Clifford, Nevin's mentor and senior partner during his stereograph phase from the late 1860s, to mid 1870s, yet this easily accessible information and obvious use was not cited by Chris Long et al. The information made available by Tasmania's specialist in photo history at the State Library of Tasmania, G.T. Stilwell, was also ignored. Less than a year after the first exhibition of Nevin's convicts photos at the QVMAG in 1977, Stilwell had located government tenders for Nevin's commission with the Municipal Police Office, among others from the Hobart City Council Lands and Survey Dept for Alfred Winter's commission to photograph the city's buildings, and Henry Hall's Baily commission to photograph notable citizens.

The London International Exhibition
Tasmanian photographers exhibited at the London International Exhibition 1873. The only records pertaining to the Tasmanian government's expenses of photographic materials in the years 1873-1874 are those which paid the UK Secretary of State's custom tariff on behalf of the London Ethnological Society 's interest in acquiring photographs for the 1873 exhibition:

The Journals of the House of Assembly for June 1873 documented the Colonial Treasury's expenditure on photographs:

On June 23rd, 1873 the Colonial Treasurer paid 14/8 shillings for "Expenses in London clearing, &c. Case of Photographs for Secretary of State ...". This was the additional expense for sending the "Photographs of Aborigines for Ethnological Society ... 5.0.0 " i.e. five pounds to London.

The photographs of Aborigines were reproductions for the Ethnological Society (London) of those taken by (Bishop) Francis Russell Nixon in the 1850s, Henry Frith,  and Charles A. Woolley ca. 1866. Bishop Nixon was a permanent resident in London by 1865, never to return to Tasmania. The case of photographs cleared in London for the British Secretary of State were not photographs of Tasmanian prisoners; in addition to the photographs of Aborigines there were photographs - reprinted - taken at the request of Queen Victoria of Tasmanian children, of local architecture, and of landscapes following the visit of her son the Duke of Edinburgh in 1868 to Charles Woolley's studio. These too were intended for the London International Exhibition, 1873.

If a cargo of 288 photographic glasses actually arrived in government stores at Port Arthur in July 1873 and were used to photograph the prisoners there for official prison records, as Chris Long et al wanted to believe, and had therefore been bought by the government, who supplied and paid for them? Not the Colonial Treasury. The case of photographs (used plates or prints) for the British Secretary of State were cleared in June 1873. They were arriving in London, not departing. The date of 288 plates listed as cargo for Port Arthur was on 30th July 1873, less than a month after the Colonial Treasury's tabling of the government's photographic expenses. Those glass plates could not have been the same case of photographs cleared in London for exhibition in London.

If Boyd had requested (from which supplier?) 288 plates destined to government stores at Port Arthur, the Colonial Treasury report (above) would show such detail, but it shows no items of expenditure for photographs sent to Port Arthur 1873, although the general expenditure on Boyd and the Port Arthur site was considerable. By June and July 1873 the Parliament was questioning W. R. Giblin the Attorney-General about the corrupt practices of Boyd, Giblin's brother-in-law (Mercury, July 1873), and the vast amounts being spent on the penal settlement, including Boyd's huge salary, all reasons among others raised about inhumane practices by Drs Crowther and Coverdale to close down the prison there as soon as the inmates could be relocated to Hobart (the "Mainland"). On July 19th, 1873, The Mercury reported these men's concerns:
... one great reason why Port Arthur should be broken up was the cruel wrong done by sending men young in crime to herd with habitual criminals ... The point he wished to direct the attention of the House to was ... that a great wrong and injustice had been done by the late Government in order to perpetuate an establishment of that kind that short-sentenced men had been sent there ... July 19, Mercury 1873
A year and a half later, in 1876, the Colonial Secretary ordered all documents pertaining to the Commissariat's stores be destroyed (AOT), a measure to cover up corruption which underscored the waste of government funds. However, Port Arthur records were offered at auction in 1879 in Hobart and Melbourne in the face of public protest and a belief the government had ordered their destruction by 1876 (Source: Alison Alexander, Tasmania's Convicts 2010). Many later ID prisoner photos were burnt along with other prison and convict records during the Joseph Lyons terms of government.

Samuel Clifford, Thomas J. Nevin and H. H. Baily
Samuel Clifford's photographs of the Port Arthur site, its officials and surrounds between 1871 and 1873 were commercially produced cartes and stereographs bearing his impress on the mount (SLTas), including the series depicting Governor Du Cane and his vice-regal guests. However, no association with the extant prisoner ID photographs and Clifford's name can be made, apart from Clifford's partnership with Thomas Nevin in the late 1860s to the late 1870s of stereographs and studio portraits of private patrons (The Mercury 1876; QVMAG; TMAG; Private Collections).

Attributed to Samuel Clifford
The Government Cottage, Port Arthur,
Photo dated 1873
State Library of Tasmania

Another close associate of Nevin's was commercial photographer Henry Hall Baily (their companionship was mentioned in The Mercury, December 4, 1880). Baily was a victim of theft by his apprentice, Joshua Anson. The Mercury's account of the trial and conviction of Joshua Anson, in June and July 1877 for theft and serious fraud, detailed the case. Joshua Anson, still in his teens in 1872-74, ordered expensive cameras, lenses, glass plates, albums, mounts from Melbourne and Paris, and sundries from London through the firms of Websters, Weavers the chemists, and Walch's Stationers, Hobart on Baily's account and without Baily's knowledge. He kept the loot at his mother's home where it was discovered by Detective Connor. Aged 22 in 1877, Joshua Anson was finally arrested after years of suspicions held by Baily, and imprisoned for two years. Chief Justice Francis Smith stated in his summary that the seriousness and scale of the theft warranted a sentence of 14 years, and leniency was granted only on account of Anson's youth. Anson's plea was to be kept apart from the prisoners on incarceration, because he felt he was above them, though the jury did not agree.

The Joshua Anson trial
The Mercury, June 9th 1877.

The goods stolen were valued at 180 pounds, though their real value was much greater, and included large quantities of glass, negatives, boxes, lenses, mounts, chemicals, and albums by Baily called "Souvenirs of Tasmania." Samuel Clifford who was called as a witness identified several of his stereographs and albums among those which he said he had sold to Anson, and which Anson had reprinted as his own, an offense which the court noted as fraudulent pretensions.

The Joshua Anson trial,
The Mercury, July 11th 1877.

Joshua Anson's photographs of Port Arthur were not taken before the 1880s. Thomas Nevin was at the Port Arthur prison site with Alfred Bock during 1866 when Bock sent a telegram to Samuel Clifford to send down more dry plates while photographing prison officials and the state of the buildings. He was there again with Samuel Clifford in 1873 to photograph the evidence of expenditure on renovations to the buildings and other engineering works which A. H. Boyd claimed as expenses, and he was there again in May with the new Surgeon-Commandant of the Port Arthur prison, Dr Coverdale, just weeks after the birth of his second child, Thomas James Nevin jnr. The prisoners at Port Arthur were never photographed by A. H. Boyd for official purposes and for any other purpose because (a) he was not a photographer, (b) the glass plates sent as cargo might never have arrived, or they were used by Clifford to photograph visiting dignitaries in July-August 1873 and (c) studios were set up for the purpose of photographing prisoners at the Hobart Town Hall Police Office next to the cells in the basement, and at the Hobart Gaol Campbell St above the women's quarters and laundry. Eight hundred (800) prisoners had been photographed by Thomas Nevin between 1872 and 1875 alone, and thousands more were photographed by the Nevin brothers in the following decade. Thomas Nevin ceased professional photography in 1888, passing his stock of negatives on to John Watt Beattie at Ansons Bros studios, who reprinted many for display in Beattie's convictaria museum located in Hobart.

The shipment of photographic items which arrived at Port Arthur in August 1873 were duplicates from Nevin's negatives of prisoners taken at the Hobart Gaol, together with details of the prisoners' records held in the central registry of the Police Office at the Hobart Town Hall. The purpose was to check convicts' shipping records with current records held in Hobart for aliases. Many of the men photographed by Nevin gave him an alias. One notable example of at least 40 aliases among those pictured in extant cartes was William Campbell. Nevin accompanied Campbell back to Port Arthur on 8th May 1874 to correlate the police data with the convict transportation records. Campbell was hanged a year later as Job Smith. His other alias was Brodie (see Way Bill below).

Henry Hall Baily was principally a society photographer. His series of more than 100 photographs of notable administrators, including Governor Weld, and prominent businessmen in Tasmania was submitted to exhibitions in Melbourne and Philadelphia.

Governor Weld 1875-1880
State Library Tasmania
Ref: AUTAS001125883652

This image is unattributed at the State Library of Tasmania. It was the photograph taken by Henry Hall Baily of  Governor Weld for exhibition at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition, according to the report in The Mercury, December 1st, 1875:

PHILADELPHIA EXHIBITION. - There are now ready for shipment some further exhibits of our most valuable wools, which have come in since the 23 boxes and two bales were despatched per last Southern Cross. These consist of six fleeces of pure merino wool, hot water washed, from Mr Page, of Ellenthorpe Hall, and three fleeces of pure stud merino rams from the Hon. Donald Cameron, of Forde, which are valued by the owner at £150,and £80 respectively. These, with eight fleeces from Mr. George Taylor, of Milford, have all been presented by the exhibitors to the Museum of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, to which also has been presented, by the Municipal Council of Hobart Town, the large frame of photographs of the public buildings of the city, the large map of Tasmania, and also the bismuth iron and tin ores which received prizes in Melbourne at the recent successful exhibition there. Mr. H. H. Baily's books of Tasmanian views and portraits which received a prize, have been returned to the secretary in this colony, with a request that some of the plates which have been damaged by the inspection of the 240,000 visitors to the exhibition might he replaced by clean plates--a request which Mr. Baily has at once expressed his pleasure to accede to. The first photographic picture in the book is that of His Excellency Mr. Weld, C.M.G., in his gubernatorial uniform; and amongst the hundred other portraits are those of many of our best respected citizens and their beautiful children 'of all ages, the last few pages being occupied with portraits of the American officers who were on 'scientific duty in the Swatara, and who had made themselves so very popular in this colony.
Photographs of the Exhibition Halls and exhibits were commissioned.
See this excerpt from the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition homepage for an overview

Expenses incurred by  damages to Baily's plates at the Exhibition were eventually underwritten by both the Municipal Council of Hobart and the Colonial Secretary, but the case sent to Port Arthur does not appear to be associated with any official document apart from a simple ship's cargo list.

Just as Baily's public work received official support and funding, Nevin's early police photography from his first prisoner photographs 1871, acceptance of his first tender in 1872, and contracts from early 1873 were  funded on commission to the Municipal Police Office and City Corporation, undersigned by the Colonial Government and his solicitor, the Hon. Attorney-General W. R. Giblin. He was issued with Royal Warrants twice: the first was H.R.H Prince Alfred's  insignia of three feathers, awarded while working with his partner Robert Smith as the firm Nevin & Smith during the Duke's visit ot Tasmania, 1867-1868; the second with the Lands and Survey Dept, Police Office and Hobart City Council from 1870. Thomas Nevin's appointment in 1876 to full-time civil service as Hall and Office Keeper at the Hobart Town Hall, which housed the Police Office's central registry of prisoner records and photographs, consolidated the confidence of Attorney-General Giblin and Inspector of Police John Swan (whose sister Maria Nairn had leased an acre of land at Kangaroo Valley to Thomas' father John Nevin). His brother Constable John Nevin assumed a central role in the photographic activities at the Hobart Gaol from 1876 through to the mid 1880s while Thomas Nevin continued to serve the Municipal and New Town police as photographer and assistant bailiff.

In almost every instance, the prisoners whose photographs survive today were photographed at the Supreme Court trials and adjoining Hobart Gaol in the years 1871-1874 BEFORE they were sent back to to serve brief sentences at Port Arthur, young and old, native (.i.e. locally-born) or transported as a convict before its complete closure. They were photographed again at the Town Hall Police Office on their discharge on various conditions (CP, FS, Free etc)  between 1874-1884. A few were photographed at Port Arthur between 1870-1874 by Nevin. His visits to the site on police business became more frequent from May 1874 when Dr Coverdale accelerated the transfer of the criminal class of inmate to Hobart prisons and for reassignment. Many of these transferees, 109 in all, re-offended on a regular basis, and were photographed again by Nevin on arrest (the booking photograph), sentencing at trial and arraignment (the classic mug shot) and release (some even smiled for the shot.) A few of his cartes-de-visite photographs survive of men who were hanged: Job Smith, James Sutherland, John Ogden, Richard Copping,  and Henry Stock (NLA, TMAG; SLNSW C203, Death Warrants VDL).

Nevin at Port Arthur May 1874

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

Thomas Nevin's busiest years working with the Municipal and Territorial Police in Hobart prisons and at the Town Hall Police Office were 1873-1884. A.H. Boyd's name, by contrast, disappears abruptly from the police gazettes after February 1873, and up to that date only in relation to his signature undersigning the transfer of paupers from the Port Arthur site to invalid depots and asylums in Hobart (Tasmania Reports of Crime Information for Police 1871-1875. J. Barnard Gov't Printer).

T.J. Nevin's prisoner mugshots, Mitchell Library NSW


The Mitchell Library at the State Library of NSW has catalogued eleven prisoner photographs so far which were taken by Thomas Nevin and his younger brother Jack Nevin at the Hobart Gaol between 1875 and 1884.

All of these men were habitual offenders with long criminal records who spent as much if not more time in gaol as out on assignment to an employer. These are their mugshots, and typical of the 3500 or so taken over the decade by Thomas Nevin, with the assistance of his brother Constable John Nevin. The two brothers were required by the Prisons Department and Municipal Police Office to photograph men (but not women) who were arrested, with a "booking photograph". They were also required to photograph those who were arraigned at the Hobart Supreme Court, incarcerated at the Hobart Gaol, or discharged from the Town Hall Municipal Office. And in some instances, they photographed dead men walking, those destined to be hanged.

The exact dates on which these men were photographed, some at least twice, can be adduced from their police records published in the weekly police gazettes, called Tasmania Reports of Crime Information for Police 1865-1880( Government Printer, James Barnard), held at the Archives Office of Tasmania. The death warrants which accompany two of these vignetted cartes (Sutherland and Stock) are held at the Mitchell Library, bound in a volume called Death Warrants V.D.L (Tasmania, Supreme Court C203).

The following photographs of Nevin's mugshots for these eleven prisoners provide information about -

  • the pose and framing techniques used by Thomas Nevin in the mid 1870s, reflective of conventional commercial portraiture
  • the transition period between the brothers' commercial portraiture and the regulated official prison photograph, typically a full frontal capture, dating from late 1870s - 1880s
  • the archival inscriptions and numbering which date from the library's accession of the collection, bequested by David Scott Mitchell in 1907
  • the library's contemporary methods of storing, pasting, mounting and cataloguing this collection
  • etc etc -i.e. whatever the punctum may be for the viewer
All photography copyright © KLW NFC 2009 ARR.

Tasmanian prisoner mugshots by Nevin 1870s

Tasmanian prisoner mugshots by Nevin 1870s

Tasmanian prisoner mugshots by Nevin 1870s


Tasmanian prisoner mugshots by Nevin 1870s


Tasmanian prisoner mugshots by Nevin 1870s

Tasmanian prisoner mugshots by Nevin 1870s

Some are stamped verso with Nevin's Royal Arms government stamp(two above), some have handwritten details of the crime and date of arraignment in different hands

Tasmanian prisoner mugshots by Nevin 1870s

Tasmanian prisoner mugshots by Nevin 1870s

Two of the same man, Francis Shearin (police records show spelling variations and aliases): on left is the booking photograph 1877, on right the sentencing shot, 8 years for murder, taken in July 1878.

Shearin sentenced July 1878

Shearin's sentence: Police record in Tasmania Reports of Crime 2nd August 1878

Tasmanian prisoner mugshots by Nevin 1870s

Tasmanian prisoner mugshots by Nevin 1870s

Full frontal, eyes up.


Tasmanian prisoner mugshots by Nevin 1870s-80s

Booking shot of Henry Stock, executed 1884

Tasmanian prisoner mugshots by Nevin 1870s-80s

Sutherland, full frontal shot, hand-tinted, photographed in the week before his death by hanging, May-June 1883.

Tasmanian prisoner mugshots by Nevin 1870s-80s

Tasmanian prisoner mugshots by Nevin 1870s-80s

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T. J. Nevin's mugshots: the transitional pose and frame

HOBART GAOL prisoner mugshots 1875-1878 . SLNSW
NEVIN brothers Thomas and John Nevin, police photographers
MISATTRIBUTION and fake history, the NLA and PAHSMA.

During the fourteen years of contractual work with the Hobart City Corporation, the Lands and Survey Department, and the Hobart Municipal Police Office (1872-1886) at the Hobart Town Hall, commercial photographer and civil servant Thomas J. Nevin deployed the conventional techniques of 19th century commercial studio portraiture in matters of posing, photographing and printing the final official prisoner identification photograph (mugshot) in an oval mount. Seated in front of a plain backcloth, sometimes dark, sometimes light, only the upper torso of the prisoner was photographed, his sightlines deflected 45 degrees to the edge of the frame. The majority - but not all - of Thomas J. Nevin's prisoner photographs taken from 1872 into the 1880s which are held at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery (QVMAG); the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG); the Penitentiary Chapel, Hobart; the Port Arthur Heritage Site, and the National Library of Australia (NLA) evince his use of this commercial technique, evident as well in these two photographs of prisoners James Mullins and William Smith taken in 1875 which are held in the Mitchell Collection, State Library of NSW:

Convicts, Tasmania by T. J. Nevin

Above: The two photographs of prisoners, James Mullins on left and William Smith on right, which bear T. J. Nevin's colonial Royal warrant studio stamp used on all Hobart Supreme Court documents.

Tasmanian prisoners James Mullins and William Smith
Taken by T. J. Nevin, Hobart Gaol, 1875
Source: Mitchell Library SLNSW (PXB 274)
Photos copyright © KLW NFC 2009-2010

Convicts, photo by T. J. Nevin Royal warrant

Verso: Tasmanian prisoners James Mullins and William Smith
T. J. Nevin, government contractor studio stamp Hobart Gaol, 1875
Source: Mitchell Library SLNSW (PXB 274)
Photos copyright © KLW NFC 2009-2010

Neither cdv bears a date, but the photographs can be dated from the week in July 1875 when both men were booked and arrested. James Mullins' cdv (on left) is numbered recto "198" and William Smith's (on right) is numbered recto "200". Thomas Nevin took an earlier and different photograph of an unshaven Smith, which is numbered "199" and which also bears his government contractor Royal colonial warrant studio stamp. It is held at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery. See this article here on this site.

POLICE RECORDS James Mullins and William Smith

William Smith, photo on right (above), was photographed on arrest by T. J. Nevin at the Hobart Gaol on 9th July 1875.

Source: Tasmania Reports of Crime Information for Police, James Barnard Gov't Printer

James Mullins, photo on left (above), was photographed on arrest by T. J. Nevin at the Hobart Gaol 13th July 1875.

Regulations per amendments to the Police Acts of Victoria and Tasmania 1872 required Thomas Nevin to provide several duplicates in carte-de-visite format from the one image of the prisoner he recorded on the glass negative. One duplicate was pasted to the criminal's record sheet; another was held in the Sheriff's Office at the Hobart Gaol; several more were circulated to regional police stations, prisons (including Port Arthur) and depots, and another was held at the Town Hall Municipal Police Office central registry (as supplements to the police gazettes called the Photo Books) where they were sometimes displayed in a Rogues' Gallery along the walls. Thomas Nevin also displayed photographs of absconders and others wanted on warrant in his studio shop window at 140 Elizabeth Street, Hobart Town while still operating as a commercial photographer. Some of the prints he (or his assistants) hand-tinted to reflect reality: blue for blue eyes and blue for the prison issue scarves. Physical descriptions of wanted criminals which were written by Edwin Midwood, the Information Officer at the Municipal Police Office and printed in the weekly Police Gazettes (titled Tasmania Reports of Crime Information for Police) took pains to list the colour of the wanted man's eyes, hair, whiskers, complexion, and clothing.

Thomas J. Nevin's younger brother Constable John Nevin (William John, and Jack to the family) joined the civil service in 1870 at the Cascades Prison for Males, and by 1876 he was armed and resident at H. M. Gaol, Hobart acting as Thomas Nevin's photographic assistant, eventually executing duties as the photographer and messenger there until his untimely death from typhoid in 1891. Between 1876 and 1886, transitional years in the history of 19th century prison photography, changes took place in the way Thomas Nevin posed the prisoner and printed the final mugshot. The technology changed too. Lenses after 1875 enabled a closer or larger image of the face. The prisoner was also posed closer to the camera in a full frontal position facing the photographer, and although the oval mount was still the preferred format for printing, square frames were also used. The formalised front and profile pair of portraits using the methods of Bertillonage did not appear in Tasmanian prison photography until the late 1890s, by which time Thomas Nevin had ceased professional photography and his younger brother John Nevin was deceased.

Tasmanian prisoner mugshots ca. 1900sTasmanian prisoner mugshots ca. 1900s

Above: Bertillon method: front and profile pair
Tasmanian prisoner mugshots, 1897 and 1904
Source: Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery

This photograph (below) of Constable John Nevin was taken by his brother Thomas J. Nevin ca. 1880 and probably in situ at the Hobart Gaol or Supreme Court. It was printed on a mount with a square blue outer border.

Constable John Nevin, younger brother of photographer Thomas Nevin, ca. 1880
Copyright © KLW NFC Imprint 2009 Private Collection

Three prisoner photographs in this group of Tasmanian prisoners by Thomas J. Nevin held in the David Scott Mitchell Collection (Mitchell Library SLNSW PXB 274) were printed with the same square border, coloured sepia in the same tint as the oval frame:

Tasmanian prisoner mugshots by Nevin 1870s-80s

Tasmanian prisoners Michael Parker and William Henry Butler
Photos by T. J. Nevin , 1877-1878
Taken at the Hobart Gaol, Campbell St. Hobart.

Prisoner William Henry Butler, taken at the Hobart Gaol.
Verso inscription: William Henry Butler, "St. Vincent"
Photo by T. J. Nevin , 1877-1878
Mitchell Library SLNSW (PXB 274)
Photo copyright © KLW NFC 2010

Prisoner Michael Parker, taken at the Hobart Gaol.
Photo by T. J. Nevin , 1877-1878
Mitchell Library SLNSW (PXB 274)
Photos copyright © KLW NFC 2010

The booking photograph Thomas Nevin took of Patrick Lamb (below) on 10th February 1876 also has a square outer border, not common on these prisoner mugshots. Patrick Lamb, free to colony (FC) on the Siam, was booked and sentenced on 10th February 1876 to three (3) years in the Hobart Gaol for wounding with intent. The photograph was duplicated again by Constable John Nevin at the Hobart Gaol when Patrick Lamb was discharged from the Supreme Court on 15th May, 1878. The full frontal position marks the transition phase in Thomas Nevin's portraiture in the years 1876-86, from the aesthetics of the conventional commercial portrait to the mugshot, in which the eyes are open and the gaze is direct to camera, a requirement in the interests of the police administration, and no doubt dictated by a belief in the realism of photography.

Tasmanian prisoner Patrick Lamb per Siam, taken at the Hobart Gaol
Photo by T. J. Nevin , 1877-1878
Mitchell Library SLNSW (PXB 274)
Photos copyright © KLW NFC 2010 ARR


Source: Tasmania Reports of Crime Information for Police, James Barnard Gov't Printer

Patrick Lamb was photographed by Thomas Nevin at the Hobart Supreme Court on Lamb's arraignment, 10th February 1876. Nevin would have been more than a little interested in proceedings since fellow photographer Stephen Spurling was also arraigned in the same session for obtaining credit under false pretences, released on bail. None of the Spurling family of photographers was ever employed as a police or prisons photographer in Tasmania, should propinquity alone suggest otherwise.

Source: Tasmania Reports of Crime Information for Police, James Barnard Gov't Printer

Tasmanian prisoner Patrick Lamb per Siam, taken at the Hobart Gaol
Photo by T. J. Nevin , 1877-1878
Mitchell Library SLNSW (PXB 274)
Photos copyright © KLW NFC 2010 ARR

Patrick Lamb was discharged from Hobart on 11th May 1878. His prisoner identification photograph was reprinted at that time by Nevin for circulation to police in the region where Lamb would seek employment.

As with all of these mugshots in this group of nine bequeathed by David Scott Mitchell to the State Library Of NSW ca 1907, there is no verso inscription which mentions "Port Arthur", unlike several other photographs of Tasmanian prisoners taken by Thomas Nevin, held at the NLA and the QVMAG, which were incorrectly inscribed on verso "Taken at Port Arthur 1874" by an early 20th century archivist (and copyists for the tourist trade), and which subsequently led to misattribution of these prisoner mugshots to the non-photographer Port Arthur accountant A.H. Boyd (Long 1995 et al). The effect of the misattribution can be seen in the catalogue entry to this collection too, despite the absence of any wording on the versos of the photographs themselves relating to Port Arthur.

In August 2009, the catalogue entry was revised and A. H. Boyd's name removed, per this webshot:

The two photographs in this group of nine bear Nevin's government contractor stamp incorporating the Royal Arms colonial warrant, the same insignia which appears on the seal of the Supreme Court of Tasmania, yet the original record entry proposed extraordinary contradictory logic: that the stamped cdv's are "copies of originals made by A.H. Boyd." This statement is nonsense; it has no basis in fact. Whereas photo-historians make an attribution to a photographer if his studio stamp appears on the mount or verso of the photograph, the perversity here is the modalised atrribution of Nevin's work to the non-photographer A.H. Boyd, despite Nevin's stamp. As with any other government contractor, Nevin was required to register copyright with ONE trade example of a photograph per batches of hundreds, and if passed, copyright endured for 14 years. Once employed as a full-time civil servant with the Hobart City Council, his use of a nominal stamp was unnecessary. This lack of knowledge of patent registration by photographers contributed to researchers' (eg. Chris Long) serious errors in deflecting Nevin's attribution in 1995. Long has since pleaded ignorance of the facts, but his cohort has closed ranks around him in a pretence of support while bleeding the error for all its worth. See the latest attempt at the NLA's full record online catalogue for their 83 holdings of Nevin's mugshots, which references A. H. Boyd. The record until 2007 was headed with Nevin's name; since then the deeply aspirational, sycophantic and opportunistic Julia Clark has talked her way into Nevin's life (and ours, which is her point) with a student "essay" purporting to be research about Boyd that borders on abuse of moral rights of Nevin and his descendants, and for what? The promotion of this particular prison official Boyd as an "ARTIST"????? Or self-promotion by Clark, hoping to call herself one day Dr Clark? Her foolishness is narcissistic and not without pathos, her methods fraudulent, and her motives political. See this article A Question of Stupidity and the NLA.

The association of the non-photographer A.H. Boyd with T. J. Nevin's name is a PARASITIC ATTRIBUTION. It derives principally from a chain of references by late 1990s commentators (Long, Reeder, Ennis, Crombie) to a sentence in an unpublished children's fictional tale about a school holiday at Port Arthur written in the 1930s by a niece of Boyd - a tale which does NOT mention Boyd by name, nor does it mention the photographing of prisoners. Chris Long (TMAG 1995) founded his belief in Boyd on this piece of fiction, created a "darkroom" and photographic paraphernalia as Boyd's and coupled it with the assertion that the Port Arthur prison official A. H. Boyd not only ordered equipment to take photographs of prisoners (as a sort of amateur one-off ethnographic portfolio), he photographed them himself, despite the fact A. H. Boyd was never known to be a photographer in his own life-time, and there are NO works in existence in any genre that can be accredited to A. H. Boyd. The extant 300 prisoner mugshots taken in the mid 1870s are nothing more than random estrays of hundreds more prisoners photographed by the Nevin brothers for use by police: they each depict men who were habitual offenders and recidivists whose repeat offences earned them a further sentence and a mugshot by Nevin on incarceration, and over a decade from 1872 to 1886. A. H. Boyd left the position of Commandant at Port Arthur in December 1873, forced to resign over allegations of corruption, and played no role in the colonial government's photographic documentation of prisoners convicted in the Supreme Court during the 1870s .

Thomas J. Nevin Tasmanian convict photos SLNSW

Tasmanian prisoners photographed at the Hobart Gaol
Photos by T. J. Nevin , 1877-1878
Mitchell Library SLNSW (PXB 274)
Photos copyright © KLW NFC 2009 ARR

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Australia's first MUGSHOTS

PLEASE NOTE: Below each image held at the National Library of Australia is their catalogue batch edit which gives the false impression that all these "convict portraits" were taken solely because these men were transported convicts per se (i.e before cessation in 1853), and that they might have been photographed as a one-off amateur portfolio by a prison official at the Port Arthur prison in 1874, which they were not. Any reference to the Port Arthur prison official A. H. Boyd on the NLA catalogue records is an error, a PARASITIC ATTRIBUTION with no basis in fact. The men in these images were photographed in the 1870s-1880s because they were repeatedly sentenced as habitual offenders whose mugshots were taken on arrest, trial, arraignment, incarceration and/or discharge by government contractor, police and prisons photographer T. J. Nevin at the Supreme Court and adjoining Hobart Gaol with his brother Constable John Nevin, and at the Municipal Police Office, Hobart Town Hall when appearing at The Mayor's Court. The Nevin brothers produced over a thousand originals and duplicates of Tasmanian prisoners, the bulk now lost or destroyed. The three hundred extant mugshots were the random estrays salvaged - and reproduced in many instances- for sale at Beattie's local convictaria museum in Hobart and at interstate exhibitions associated with the fake convict ship Success in the early 1900s. The mugshots were selected on the basis of the prisoner's notoriety from the Supreme Court trial registers (Rough Calendar), the Habitual Criminals Registers (Gaol Photo Books), warrant forms, and police gazettes records of the 1870s-1880s. The earliest taken on government contract by T. J. Nevin date from 1872. The police records sourced here are from the weekly police gazettes which were called (until 1884) Tasmania Reports of Crime Information for Police 1871-1885. J. Barnard, Gov't Printer.

Supreme Court convictions