Monthly Archives: August 2014

John Carmichael’s works: Others

This post covers other artworks John Carmichael have done through his lifetime between Scotland and Australia. He did quite a lot in his 54 years, including teaching, drawing, etching, engraving, printing, painting, and doing lithography.

From a notice printed in The Sydney Monitor and Sydney Gazette & New South Wales Advertiser, two of Sydney’s newspapers dated from October  to November 1828:

JOHN CARMICHAEL, Engraver, begs most respectfully to intimate to the Gentry and Inhabitants of Sydney at large, that he now resides at the house of Messrs Mc’Naughton and Rowell, apothecaries, No. 6, King Street; where he means to prosecute his profession, in all its various Branches.
J.C. returns his sincere and grateful thanks to those who have hitherto honoured him with their favours, and ventures to pledge himself, that none who think proper to employ him will ever have cause to repent their kindness and Patronage.
Orders executed with the utmost promptitude care and dipatch.
N.B. miniatures from two to give guineas; transparent window blinds, painted to order, landscapes copied and all kinds of fancy work done in the neatest manner.”

His first known artwork done in Australia was the watercolour portrait done with ink on card. John Carmichael have signed it as ‘drawn by John Carmichael, 19th December 1826, Sydney New South Wales’.

“King of black Native” (assumed to be the well known ‘Bungaree’):




The rest shown here are others I’ve found online:












That’s about it for John Carmichael’s works. I am sure there are so many more, but probably not easily found now as many would have disappeared over time. We are just fortunate that there are some left for us to recognise his contribution to Australia in the artwork, printing and engraving industries.


Tagged ,

John Carmichael’s works: Artworks for publications

When John Carmichael advertised that he had created a series of engravings of Sydney and its surrounding scenery in December 1828 (3 years after his arrival to Sydney), this collection of a booklet with 6 images were sold publicly from  March 1829 and was all sold by end of May 1829.

There were some comments about this booklet called “Select Views of Sydney, New South Wales”, including the images – shown below – from various newspapers between December 1828 and May 1829:

  • The Australian” on 25 December 1828 (page 3) commented that:


Mr. John Carmichael is fast completing his series of engravings of Sydney and its surrounding scenery. Two of the views we have seen – they have taken Mr. Carmichael two months’ assiduous labor, and certainly do him infinite credit. In one view the observer is supposed to be stationed on Hyde Park, looking north-easterly. It takes in the unfinished Roman Catholic Chapel, with the range of streets lying north-westerly; the other from near the Commissariat Stores, looking up George-street. It is proposed to complete the whole in six views, to be published with a prospectus, at 15s. sterling. This is far too low to numerate the skill and time of the engraver, whom it will take months ere he can complete a work, which, in this country, was never yet equaled, and in few places promises to be excelled. Ingenuity and skill, such as are displayed in this undertaking are certainly well worthy of cultivation, and we would confidently solicit the warm support of the public in behalf of the engraver, who has a further claim upon the patronage of the liberal minded, in his being dumb, and we believe, deaf. Should Mr. Carmichael complete his stupendous work, it will be a credit to the Colony. The two views we have seen deservedly rank him with the best second rate landscape engraver of the day.”

  • Sydney Gazette & New South Wales Advertiser” on 28 March 1829 (page 3) annnounced that:


IN the hands of the Artist, and speedily will be published, price 4 Dollars, stitched in a handsome cover, six select Views of Sydney and its environs, dedicated by special permission to Sir JOHN JAMISON, President; and to the other Members of the Agricultural and Horticultural Society of New South Wales.
The Engravings will not only be finished in the most superb style, so as to render them worthy of a place in the portfolio of the connoisseur, as superior specimens of the Art; but they will also be calculated to exhibit to those at a distance, a true picture of this interesting Town, of this our Australian Metropolis, and accompanied too with such letter press illustrations as may be necessary.
As the plates of all fine engravings, only print a limited number of impressions, and these of course, the most perfect at the first; it is therefore respectfully suggested to those who may he desirous of obtaining copies, to insert their names and addresses into the subscription list, as early as possible, so that they may be supplied in the succession of their applications.
Subscription Lists, now lay open at the Bank of Australia; the Bank of New South Wales; the Sydney Gazette Office; the Australian Newspaper Office; the Monitor Office; Cummings’ Hotel; the Royal Hotel; the Australian Hotel; Hill’s Rose and Crown Tavern; and, at Mr. M’Naughton and Rowell’s, King-street, the lodgings of J. Carmichael, the engraver and proprietor.”

Images of “The Select Views of Sydney, New South Wales”:

Cover page (



Other images in this booklet:

Sydney from Hyde Park (



Sydney from the Domain near Government House (



Sydney from the Parramatta Road (



Sydney from Woolloomooloo (



Sydney Cove between Fort Phillip and Dawes Battery (



George Street from the Wharf (




Quite impressive, huh?


He did quite a lot, especially for some publications – which is too numerous to mention here. However there is one notable publication that should get a mention here, “Picture of Sydney: and Strangers’ Guide in N.S.W. for 1839” by James Maclehose:

2014-08-26 14.38.00

In this publication, John Carmichael did 20 engraved images, covering buildings, people, landscapes and maps. Only several selected ones shown below:

Male and female black natives, New South Wales (




Sydney Cove from the stream (


New Court House, South Head Road, Sydney (



There would be more – you’d find some through State Library of NSW or National Library of Australia.

John Carmichael’s works: Advertisements & Stamps

Between 1825 and 1857, John Carmichael had worked non-stop in producing engravings, drawings, paintings and printings, as well as lithographs. To know certain number of his works cannot be achieved, however there is at least 13 known advertisement works John have done. Some are being shown below:

All images shown below can be found from State Library of NSW

9833ded654ef0aa0c38fbf92c5fb1983 \62858r



And one of the three first Australian stamps in 1850:


And apparently he did several more stamps (1851, 1854, 1856 and 1860 (the 1860 stamps were re-produced from 1856 stamps)









The jury is still out there whether the whole stamp collection shown above are all works done by John Carmichael…

According to

New South Wales was the first part of Australia to be settled by Europeans, and the first to operate a postal service, which in 1803 was carrying letters between Sydney and Parramatta for a 2d charge. In 1809 a collecting office in Sydneywas established to receive mail from passing ships, and in 1825 the postal service was expanded. Mail coach service began in 1830, and in 1835 a new Postage Act superseded the 1825 statute and set rates based on weight and distance travelled.

The postmaster of the time, James Raymond, was in communication with Rowland Hill in England and worked to encourage the prepayment of letters in NSW. In 1838, Raymond introduced envelopes embossed with the seal of the colony, and available for local mail for 1¼ pence each instead of the 2d charged letters paid for in cash. They are thus regarded as precursors of the Penny Black. However, the envelopes were not popular, and in 1841 Raymond was unable to develop official interest in postage stamps for the colony.

In 1842 regular mail service was carried by steamer between Melbourne and Sydney, and the first mail packet from Britain arrived in 1844. An act of 1848 reformed the postal system and authorized the use of stamps; the first stamps appeared on 1 January 1850. They were locally produced, and depicted a scene of Sydney and its harbour, thus becoming known as the “Sydney Views”. The 1d, 2d, and 3d stamps were separately engraved, and then re-engraved and retouched over the next year, yielding dozens of varieties.

In 1851 the colony switched to a more conventional design, a profile of Queen Victoria wearing a laurel wreath, first in a somewhat crude rendition, then a better one in 1853. The colony also took the unusual step of using paper watermarked with the denomination, a practice that resulted in a number of mismatches between watermark and printed denomination that are rare and highly prized today.

To view more stamps, see and find some stamps in good conditions. And another site has a better list of stamps. It is quite hard to find better quality images of stamps John Carmichael did on the Internet, unfortunately.

From The Australian States Stamp Album (by Seven Seas Stamps Pty Ltd – no year shown, but is pre-1990s), it stated that John Carmichael did:

  • 1850 {commonly known as the “Sydney Views” – first stamp issues of an Australian colony. The design, based on the Great Seal of New South Wales, represents industry receiving convicts at Sydney Cove} – 2d stamp (blue coloured);
  • 1851 {The design features the laurel – wreathed head of the Queen and these are known to philatelists as “Laureates”} – 1d (red/blue, and orange), 2d (blue), 3d (green/blue, and green), and 6d (brown);
  • 1856 {Issued for use on registered letters, these stamps did not bear a denomination. The registration fee at the time was sixpence (6d)} – 6d (red/blue, and orange/blue)

John Carmichael’s works: Maps & Charts

This post will focus on the maps and charts that John Carmichael (1803, Edinburgh Scotland -1857, Sydney Australia) had created between 1825 and 1856.

    1. Chart of the Zodiac [cartographic material]: including the stars to the 4th magnitude between the parallels of 24 degree 1/2 declination north & south. T.L. Mitchell & J. Carmichael – 1831.


    • Map of the Colony of New South Wales – To the Right Honorable Edward G S Stanley. T.L. Mitchell & J. Carmichael.” Showing nineteen counties from Crowdy Bay to Moruya, and from Wellington Valley to the sea. It also shows the names of counties, settlements, houses, huts, roads, tracks, trig. Stations, rivers and creeks, plains, and lakes, including the ‘route of Major Mitchell to the interior in 1831’.

    • A chart of Port Philip, as surveyed by Lieut Thos. Symonds & Mr. Frederick Shortland, of H.M.S. Rattlesnake, Wm. Hobson Esqr. Captain and engraved by J. Carmichael, Sydney. 1836. 

    • Map of the town of Sydney – 1837″ For Tegg’s ‘New South Wales Pocket Almanac and Remembrancer for 1837’. This map included streets of Sydney, locations with public buildings, and other houses. Streets with names, buildings – some with names, military establishments, park and burial grounds. “Circular Quay” shown as a semi circle. Area from Burial Grounds to Dawes Point, and from Millers Point to Farm Cove.




  • National Library of Australia
  • State Library of NSW
Tagged , , , ,

Did You Know…

That John Carmichael was the first recorded deaf person to migrate to Australia from United Kingdom as a free settler?

John came to Australia on his own in 1825, and it seems that he may have paid his own way over hoping to make his fortune down under by himself!

Interesting… what else?

John was born James, a son of James Carmichael (a poulterer of Fleshmarket Close, Edinburgh, Scotland) and Janet Black, on 27 December 1803. When John was 9, he was admitted into the recently-opened Edinburgh Institute for the Deaf and Dumb. He was apprenticed to Mr. John Horsburgh, after leaving school, trained to become an engraver. Once John have reached the ‘Journeyman’ status as an engraver, he travelled to the colony of New South Wales in 1825. From the town of Sydney, he was employed as an engraver, artist, printer and teacher by others in the Colony. He was married twice and had eight children before dying on 27 July 1857 at his residence, Prince Street, Sydney.

Okay, so he was deaf, but doesn’t that means he signed as a deaf person?

Yes, there are written records of his signed stories during his time in Edinburgh and printed comments about him being ‘deaf and dumb’ in Sydney. This indicated he was known as a deaf person who doesn’t speak, but can sign, read and write.


1. From the recollections of Alexander Atkinson, a deaf Scot written in 1865 (1):

…named James Carmichael. This youth had, however more shining personal qualities; he was a handsome looking lad, to whose company the girls of the house were more partial than he to theirs. He was a capital “fine chap” with  and for us; he had an enthusiastic fancy for cock-fights, which was constantly fed by the shop and yard of his father, who was a respectable poulterer in the city. Frequenting one of the most noted cock-pits in the city, he was in the habit of fixing our stare on him by gesticulating every incident of the last fight and assuming every air and movement of the combats in all their rounds up to the “Death” with striking fidelity to the “Life”; nay his animation went so far as if he wished himself the Champion Cock. However, he signed with as much pathos over his fallen antagonist.

Carmichael had also a mania for horse-racing, to gratify which he was most cheerfully, since he left school, the first and last of the Edinburgh people, trudging five long miles every day in the race week to and from Musselburgh Races. He then came to us, proud of being again great in our eyes, giving rapid, yet distinct gestural pictures of the different races, horses and their riders, which he had observed with minute attention. He yet omitted nothing else of these periodic gatherings, however trivial.

Carmichael had an excellent turn for drawing, in which he embodied his favourite predilections with a surprising fidelity to truth. He gave away many excellent ink and pen specimens one of which I still keep, representing several race horses with their jockeys on their backs, as they were preparing to start from a winning post, with an ease and skill which at once showed the hand of a master. He was, like Mackechnie, well encouraged in his talent. He was, on leaving school, apprenticed to an engraver in the city.

2. A report was printed in the newspaper named “The Australian“, dated Thursday 25 December 1828, about John’s first publication, making available for the public to purchase based on the series of engravings of Sydney and its surrounding scenery. Excerpt shown:

…the skill and time of the engraver, whom it will take months ere he can complete a work, which, in this country, was never yet equaled, and in few places promises to be excelled. Ingenuity and skill, such as are displayed in this undertaking are certainly well worthy of cultivation, and we would confidently solicit the warm support of the public in behalf of the engraver, who has a further claim upon the patronage of the liberal minded, in his being dumb, and we believe, deaf. Should Mr. Carmichael complete his stupendous work, it will be a credit to the Colony. The two views we have seen deservedly rank him with the best second rate landscape engraver of the day.

3. A police report printed in the “Sydney Gazette & New South Wales Advertiser“, dated Tuesday 29 May 1832:

“DARLING STREET ROBBERY – As Mr. Moss and Mr. Carmichael, of George-street, were passing along York-street, between nine and ten o’clock, on Friday evening, they were met with three villains, who knocked down Mr. M. down and robbed him of his watch and some money. The alarm raised by Mr. C., who, through unable to speak, clapped his hands most lustily, brought some constables to their assistance; they succeeded in apprehending one of the fellows who turns out to be a native named Atkins, of most infamous character.

What prompted John to migrate to the Colony of New South Wales?

It may be due to the ‘call’ for people with skills to help build the colony into a bigger and established country away from England. While there are many convicts with various professions, the government were not keen on using them, or that those may have issues with level of professionalism? Anyhow, there is a need for people with skills in engraving, drafting and printing as the country was new and there were no to limited availability of maps and such. John might have felt that he would gain better employment opportunities in the Colony, rather than in Edinburgh.

So how did he travelled?

He swam over…

Ah ok, John actually sailed on “Triton”, departing from Leith, a port in Scotland on 21 May 1825. The ship stopped at Hobart for a few days, before it went on it’s way to Sydney Cove. From the shipping indent, there is no other recognised passengers accompanied John so we would have to assumed he travelled alone. The ship brought Scottish immigrants and cargo of sundries for both Hobart and Sydney Cove. The ship arrived at Sydney Cove on 28 October 1825, after a 7-days journey from Hobart.

What did John do in the Colony of New South Wales?

Well, he posted an advertisement, declaring his ability as an Engraver, offering services of designing and printing coats of arms, bills and such. This was placed in a newspaper “Sydney Gazette & New South Wales Advertiser” (printed in December 1825 several times) stated:

JOHN CARMICHAEL, lately arrived per Triton (who served his Time with Mr. Horsburgh of Edinburgh), begs to inform the Ladies and Gentlemen of the Colony, that he engraves Coats of Arms and Initials on gold, silver, and ivory; also, Plates for Bills of Exchange, Bills of Lading, Ornamental Cards, Tickets, and Bills of Parcels, &c. on the shortest Notice, in a Style superior to any hitherto attempted to be executed in the Colony. —Orders to be left at the House of Mr. J.M. Wilson, Upper Pitt-street; or  at Mr. Parker’s, 99, George street.

From that point, he was able to obtain plenty of jobs, developed well-regarded reputation as an engraver and artist in the Colony to both the public and government of the time. There is no obvious evidence of him mixing with other deaf people in the Colony, but John may have developed his group of friends to communicate with. John have never returned to Edinburgh to see his family and friends.

Contacts from his family and friends back in Scotland?

Yes – apparently there was a notice in the newspaper informing there is a communication for Mr. John Carmichael, engraver, formerly residing at No. 39, Phillip-street, from his friends in Scotland. One can assume that John would have received letters and such from his family and friends.

The next few postings will concentrate on his works and the last one about his Australian family.


(1) “Memoirs of My Youth: An Autobiography of Alexander Atkinson – 1865”. Published by British Deaf History Society Publications: 2001. Pages 122-123.

  • “John Carmichael: Australian Deaf Pioneer”, B. Carty, 1998. Deaf Studies, Sydney, 1998: Selected papers from the ‘Australian Deaf Studies Research Symposium, Renwick College, NSW. Edited by A. Schembri, J. Napier, R. Beattie and G. Leigh. North Rocks Press, 2000. Pages 9-19.
  • State Library of NSW
  • National Library of Australia – Trove and collections
  • Family records
Tagged , , , , , ,