Mrs Irvine’s Tasmanian Exhibition passes

This identity pass (recto and verso) to the Tasmanian International Exhibition, Launceston, 1891-1892, belonged to Jemima Frances Irvine, artist and conchologist. The verso bears the official government insignia of the Lion and Unicorn, biotica used on the British Royal Coat of Arms and retained until replaced in 1919 with two thylacines. For more information on Tasmanian State Emblems, visit the Tasmanian Parliamentary Library page.

The official photographer for the 1891 exhibition was Richard J. Nicholas of the Elite Studios, 74 John Street, Launceston. Although not credited, his wife Mrs R. Nicholas – who is listed by Davies & Stanbury (1988) as a photographer, also at the Elite Studios – probably collaborated in this unique and very large photographic undertaking.

The Launceston branch of the State Library of Tasmania holds a large album of these photographs.

“Richard Nicholas kept a master set of the official passport photographs. A large number – more than eleven hundred – has survived in an album which was donated to the (State Library of Tasmania) Library in 1950 by Mr Hart from the estate of the late A.W. Joscelyne. The photos measure 3.8. x 5.2cm each, and were pasted into the album in alphabetical order. The collection is now known as The Launceston Family Album.” (from SLT website notes).

The cost of the identity pass for gentlemen was two guineas, for ladies one guinea, and 10/6 for children under fourteen.

The Exhibition ran from November 25th, 1891 to March 1892.

It attracted 262,059 visitors (a huge influx for Launceston with its population of 17,248), and was widely promoted as a trade fair, cultural exhibition and display of community achievement. More than thirteen hundred exhibitors mounted nearly seven thousand exhibits.

Over 1400 prizes were awarded to exhibitors from all the colonies, Europe, and the United States.

Jemima Frances Irvine was either signed in by someone else or she has signed herself “Mrs C. J.Irvine” which were the initials of her long-departed husband Charles James Irvine, wholesaler of Launceston, who died in 1863. As a renowned conchologist, she may have exhibited her drawings and paintings of shells at this and earlier exhibitions.

The Launceston Family Album as the Richard Nicholas collection online is called, includes a copy of the passport photo attached to Mrs Irvine’s ticket here.There are several passport photos of other Irvine family members in the album, all with incomplete data apart from information supplied by this weblog.

Also featured here on this weblog is Mrs Irvine’s gem album of tintypes, photographer unknown, which may be another collection from the same Exhibition or from an earlier Exhibition and photographer.

Mrs Irvine was a frequent visitor to Tasmanian exhibitions. These and earlier examples from The McCullagh Collection date from 1860, 1885 and 1891.

Not only was Jemima Irvine an active exhibiting artist at these exhibitions, she was also possibly a Treasurer. By the time this photograph was taken in 1891, she was a very youthful looking 70 years old. The perky playful hat adds to the impression of liveliness.

Another photographer participated in the Exhibition in a managerial capacity. Frank Gee Duff, fl. 1889-1891, with a studio at 195 Charles St. Launceston, was also Manager of the Tasmanian Exhibition, Town Park. This complimentary Season ticket issued in Mrs Irvine’s name, indicates his involvement

© The Private Collection of John & Robyn McCullagh 2005 – 2010. ARR.

* 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 1918].
From: Resources and Access, State Library of Tasmania