Jemima Frances Irvine’s Gem Album of Tintypes

From © The Private Collection of John and Robyn McCullagh 2005-2010 ARR.

This gem album containing 49 tintypes is probably from the estate of Jemima Frances IRVINE (1822-1920)* conchologist, artist, traveller and daughter of playwright David Burn, now part of The Private Collection of John and Robyn McCullagh.

The album was manufactured by Gove & Allen, 324 George St. Sydney, Australia, and when closed measures 80mm x 92 mm.

When opened, it measures 160mm x 92mm.

Each tintype measures 2 x 2.5 mm.

The album cover is a cloth fabric moulded over papier mache, with pages edged in goldleaf.

Thirteen of the album’s pages contain 49 tintype photos.

Several pages bear the name or signature of J. F. Irvine (Jemima Frances Irvine) as well as her photographs (enlarged above).

The photographer as yet is unidentified, and the date – although probably ca. 1880 – cannot be definitely determined because Jemima kept her youthful healthy glow right into her 80th year (see A. Percy Whitelaw’s portrait of her, taken in 1902 in the State Library of Tasmania Collections).

Some have speculated that she was a photographer as well. The portraits of her included in this album may have been taken by Launceston studios for inclusion in several Tasmanian Exhibitions, and also used as identity photos for her Exhibition passes.

First page of tintypes of the Irvine gem album with J.F. Irvine’s signature (?) at lower right page. Second double page with her photo extreme lower left, and also extreme lower right.

Amongst the 49 tintypes are several of the British Monarchy, possibly Princess Alexandra and Queen Mary.

Other portraits may include Mrs Irvine’s parents, siblings, husband and several of her ten children (not all ten survived childhood – see the Colonial Families database at the Archives Office of Tasmania).

Several portraits may be the photos of fellow conchologists, artists, travelling companions and overseas friends.

Jemima Frances Irvine's Gem Album of TintypesJemima Frances Irvine's Gem Album of Tintypes

A similar gem album of 34 tintypes dated to ca. 1880 is held at the National Library of Australia online. The NLA album measures 9.5 x 8 cm and each tintype is approx. 2.5 x 2 cm

Jemima’s husband Charles Irvine died early, in 1863 only two years after the birth of their tenth child when she was 41 years old. Jemima lived on for another 55 years (born in 1822, she died in 1918), in which period she re-established her career, finances, and artistic and scientific interests.

She is listed in the State Library’s database as a conchologist, but it is a Swedish University which establishes clearly that the cowry shell, the Cypraea irvineanae was found by her and named after her, also known as:

Bistolida brevidentata brevidentata

Described by Sowerby, G.B. III, 1870 Short-Toothed Cowry to 30 mm NW Australia; New Guinea

Described by Cox, J. C. 1890. Descriptions of two new species of Australian Mollusca. (2)4: 658-66

Mrs J.F. Irvine, 18??-1???, from Western Australia [sic], found the type specimen of Cypraea irvineanae Cox, 1889

Biographical Etymology of Marine Organism Names .. I & J

Biographers please note: no comprehensive account has yet been published in any format other than in the notes on this weblog of the remarkable life of Jemima Frances Irvine. Her biography needs to be written, and her name needs to be listed on the Tasmanian Government’s Register of Significant Women.

* Updates from July 24, 2007:

Webshot of the State Library of Tasmania’s Launceston Album July 2007

The Examiner Index to Births, Deaths, Marriages, Vol 2, 1911-1920 states that Jemima F. Irvine died on 17 July 1919, at Evandale, aged 98 years [was 1919].

From: Resources and Access, State Library of Tasmania