>George Hoby, Part 5: Hard Times

>Continued from Part 4, which dealt with his busiest period as a photographer, catering to the military personnel stationed in Taranaki. Once the soldiers departed, however, he had to look for more clients and come up with new marketing ideas.

Image © National Library of New Zealand and courtesy of Papers Past
The Taranaki Herald, Saturday, 8 December 1866
In early December 1866, Hoby announced that he was offering portraits using the stennotype [sic] process, “combining real permanency with the advantage of colouring.” [71] The sennotype process had been introduced to Australia by Charles Wilson, who sold rights to use it in the Australian colonies in 1863 [72]. The London Portrait Rooms in Dunedin, operated by Messrs. Peyman and Irwin, were the first to “purchase the secret” in New Zealand in August 1863, inviting the public to inspect a selection at their gallery [73,74]. In September 1863 William Meluish of Dunedin was offering to divulge the “secrets” of the process for £5 [75], but there is little evidence that the many practitioners took it up. Henry Frith, recently arrived in Dunedin, offered sennotypes in May 1866 [76].

Image © Puke Ariki Museum and courtesy of Philip Duke
Composite portrait of the Hoby family, New Plymouth, c.1866
This composite portrait of members of the Hoby family shows the parents and eight of their children [77]. They are, from left to right and top to bottom, George Hoby Sr., Hannah Hoby, Oliver, Amy (Hannah Amy), George Jr., Clara, Lilla (Eleanor Mary Ann), Arthur, Percy and Hubert. Percy, shown in the centre of the bottom row, was born in Nelson on 5 February 1863; assuming he was about 2 to 3 years old in this portrait, the sitting was possibly around 1865 to 1866. George and Hannah’s youngest child Minna Sarah was born at Woolcombe Terrace, New Plymouth on 12 October 1865, and died on 28 February 1866. Since she does not appear, it is likely that the composite portrait was produced after her death.

Image © Alexander Turnbull Libraty and courtesy of Timeframes
Bullock team hauling house along Devon Street, New Plymouth, Unidentified photographer, c.1860s [78]
After the removal of troops from New Plymouth, business for the studio declined drastically, and the Hobys moved back to the farm on the Bell Block, their house from Woolcombe Terrace being moved there in 1868 in sections [4,78]. Although it’s unlikely to be the Hoby’s house, the unattributed photograph above shows a building being transported in a similar manner [79].

Later that year a fire burnt twelve houses in Devon street to the ground, including the photographic studio, which must have significantly added to their woes [80]. George tried his hand at dentistry from the premises of Keeling & Co., a shop belonging to his son-in-law, while still selling accumulated portraits at a shilling each, but business remained very slow [81].

Image © National Library of New Zealand and courtesy of Papers Past
Nelson Evening Mail, Thursday, 23 September 1869
George Hoby returned to Nelson, looking for customers for his photographic business, and on 15th June attempted to revive the partnership with William Davis, offering free sittings for the first three days [82,83]. To drum up business, they even tried raffling photographs [84] but it soon became clear that partnership would not work and it was dissolved on 10th September [85], Hoby announcing that he was building his own studio on Trafalgar Street [86].

Image © National Library of New Zealand and courtesy of Papers Past
Colonist, Friday, 8 October 1869
By early October he was at the premises of Mr. John in Trafalgar Street, offering cartes de visite at half price for the rest of the month [87].

Image © National Library of New Zealand and courtesy of Papers Past
Colonist, Friday, 24 June 1870
In June the following year, he tried a new marketing tack, offering a subscription lottery, which would entitle a customer to a dozen portraits, presumably cartes de visite, and a chance of winning larger coloured portraits, pictures, etc. [88] Whether or not this strategy worked is unknown, but he continued to place advertisements in all three Nelson newspapers, the Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, the Nelson Evening Mail and the Colonist until late October [89,90] when he announced his intention to leave Nelson “shortly” and end the “Art Union” lottery [91].

Image © National Library of New Zealand and courtesy of Papers Past
Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, Friday, 3 March 1871
He was still practising in the town in early March when he urged customers not to delay, as he would “positively leave” on 10th March [92]. He actually departed on the 19th March aboard the steamer Phoebe, headed for “Picton and South” [93].

Image © Nelson Provincial Museum and courtesy of The Prow
Steamer S.S. Lyttelton at Blenheim Wharf [94]
He probably spent the next eight months in Picton and the Marlborough district [4], before heading back from Wairau, near Blenheim, to Nelson aboard the steamer Lyttelton in mid-November [95].

Image © National Library of New Zealand and courtesy of Papers Past
Nelson Evening Mail, Saturday, 11 November 1871
His marketing skills invigorated, and “photography seeming to have gone mad in Nelson,” George offered his cut rates (six pictures for 3/6) in Trafalgar Street “for a few days.” [96] By mid-December he’d had enough, travelling by the S.S. Wellington via the port of Onehunga in the Manukau harbour, and arriving home in New Plymouth on the 14th December, after an absence of two-and-a-half years [97].

Image © National Library of New Zealand and courtesy of Papers Past
The Taranaki Herald, Saturday, 16 December 1871
He was not hesitant to advertise his services in both photography and dentistry to residents, in the latter possibly being assisted by his son Arthur [98], and by July 1872 was operating from new premises in Devon Street [99]. In November he had an accident in the street outside the studio, as reported in the Herald [100]:

ACCIDENT TO MR. HOBY. – Yesterday afternoon, as Mr. Hoby was mounting his horse in front of his photographic studio, the animal became restive, and before the unfortunate gentleman could gain his seat, he was thrown violently to the ground, his head coming in contact with the kerb-stone. When picked up, Mr. Hoby was insensible, so he was carried into his studio, and Dr. Rawson sent for. We learn he has received injuries such as will lay him up for some time, but we are happy to hear that no serious consequences are likely to result from his fall.

Image © National Library of New Zealand and courtesy of Papers Past
Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, Monday, 8 September 1873
He must have recovered soon, because by August 1873 he was back in Nelson again, “ready to take portraits at the Gallery, opposite the Masonic Hall, Trafalgar street.” [101] His intention was to remain there for a month taking portraits and selling new photographic views of Nelson, as well as offering to take views of houses [102,103], but he was still there in December [104]. On 31st December he set off again, this time aboard the S.S. Taranaki for Wakefield and Spring Grove (Mr Botterell’s), near Havelock in the Marlborough Sounds, where he offered to “take portraits, views of houses, animals, etc.” [105]

In the final part of this series, George Hoby returns to Taranaki and the family home at Beach Farm, Bell Block for good.

References

[4] Hoby, Arthur (1937) Memoirs of Arthur Hoby, Transcript of original held by Alexander Turnbull Library, Courtesy of Philip Duke.

[71] Stennotype (Advertisement), Taranaki Herald, 8 December 1866, p.2.

[72] Charles Wilson, Dictionary of Australian Artists Online (updated 14 November 2007)

[73] Portraits, &c. (Advertisements), Otago Daily Times, 17 August 1863, p.2.

[74] Rackstraw, Tony (2009) London Portrait Rooms, Early Otago Photographers (including Southland) and their successors.

[75] To Photographers (Advertisement), Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, 15 September 1863, p.2.

[76] Frith’s Sennotype Gallery (Advertisement), Otago Daily Times, 7 May 1866, p.3.

[77] Composite photographic portrait of the Hoby family of New Plymouth, Taranaki, New Zealand, Unknown format and size, attributed to George Hoby, Puke Ariki Museum.

[78] Tenders. To Carpenters, Builder, and others, Taranaki Herald, 1 February 1868, p.1.

[79] Bullock team hauling a house along Devon Street, New Plymouth, B/W negative, Undated, Unidentified photographer, ID: 1/2-110547, Alexander Turnbull Library/Timeframes.

[80] Another Great Fire in Devon-Street, Taranaki Herald, 28 November 1868, p.3.

[81] Notice, Taranaki Herald, 6 February 1869, p.2.

[82] Davis and Hoby, Photographers, Trafalgar Street (Advertisement), Colonist, 15 June 1869, p.2.

[83] New Plymouth. Departures, Taranaki Herald, 12 June 1869, p.2.

[84] Notice. Davis & Hoby, Photographers, Trafalgar Street (Advertisement), Nelson Evening Mail, 25 June 1869, p.3.

[85] Dissolution of Partnership, Nelson Evening Mail, 23 September 1869, p.3.

[86] Advertisement, Nelson Evening Mail, 23 September 1869, p.3.

[87] Advertisement, Colonist, 8 October 1869, p.2.

[88] New Advertisements. Photographic Art Union, Colonist, 24 June 1870, p.2.

[89] Business Notices. Photographic Art Union, Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, 26 October 1870, p. 1.

[90] Photographic Art Union (Advertisement), Colonist, 21 October 1870, p.1.

[91] New Advertisements, Colonist, 28 October 1870, p.2.

[92] Business Notices, Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, 3 March 1871, p.1.

[93] Shipping Intelligence. Sailed, Nelson Evening Mail, 20 March 1871, p.2.

[94] Photograph of S.S. Lyttelton at Blenheim Wharf, Undated, Mounted albumen print, undated, unidentified photographer, Acc. No. C2152, Nelson Provincial Museum, Courtesy of The Prow

[95] Shipping Intelligence. Arrived, Nelson Evening Mail, 13 November 1871, p.2.

[96] New Advertisements, Nelson Evening Mail, 11 November 1871, p.2.

[97] Port of Onehunga. Arrivals, Daily Southern Cross, 12 December 1871, p.2.

[98] Dentistry. Photography (Advertisements), Taranaki Herald, 16 December 1871, p.3.

[99] Photography & Dentistry (Advertisements), Taranaki Herald, 13 July 1872, p.1.

[100] Accident to Mr. Hoby, Taranaki Herald, 6 November 1872, p.2.

[101] New Advertisements. Photography., Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, 21 August 1873, p.2.

[102] Business Notices, Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, 8 September 1873, p.2.

[103] Photography (Advertisement), Nelson Examiner and New Zealand Chronicle, 17 November 1873, p.1.

[104] Advertisement, Nelson Evening Mail, 22 November 1873, p.2.

[105] Shipping Intelligence. Sailed, Nelson Evening Mail, 31 December 1873, p.2.

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~ by gluepot on Monday, April 11, 2011.

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