King Billy and the Ballarat Tribe 1851.


Francis Wilson Niven (1831 - 1905)

$A 110

In stock

S/N: HOBA 002 ABO 

Full Title:

King Billy and the Ballarat Tribe 1851.




Francis Wilson Niven (1831 - 1905)


In good condition.


Hand coloured lithograph.


Lithograph of one of three aboriginal elders of the Ballarat tribe, to be named King Billy.


Francis Wilson Niven (1831-1905)

Niven was a lithographic printer and mariner. At the age of 13 he went to sea and was apprenticed to John Sargent, captain of the Stebonheath. Following voyages to Victoria in 1851 and 1853, having gained the rank of first mate (1852), he was discharged in London on 15 June 1854.

After prospecting with limited success, Niven decided upon the occupation of printing, specifically lithography, because it suited the artistic disposition he had inherited from his father. He purchased presses for £40 from Alfred Ronalds, a nurseryman at Ballarat who had formerly been a lithographer at Geelong. Niven taught himself to use this equipment with the aid of Ure’s Dictionary of Arts. His first known commercial work was assisting with illustrations on Ballarat Punch in 1857. In the 1860s he trained with the lithographic artist Hermann Deutsch in his Bridge Road office. 

They produced many prints of Ballarat scenes. Between 1863 and 1865 Deutsch sold him the business. Innovation in lithography was a significant part of the firm’s success and in 1873 Niven imported one of the earliest known commercial steam lithographic presses in Australia.

F. W. Niven & Co. became a large printing business and at its peak employing seventy hands and having some £7000 worth of machinery.

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