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Skipper's South Australian Almanac, 1841. Part 1 of 3
Title : Skipper's South Australian Almanac, 1841. Part 1 of 3 Skipper's South Australian Almanac, 1841. Part 1 of 3 View More Images
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Creator : Skipper, John Michael, 1815-1883
Source : PRG 72/13/1
Date of creation : 1841, 1850
Format : Book
Contributor : State Library catalogue
Catalogue record
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Description :

Skipper's personal copies of the 1841 and 1850 South Australian Almanacs with his tiny marginal sketches, including personal comments, reminiscences and puns.

An almanac (also spelled almanack and almanach) is an annual publication containing tabular information in a particular field or fields often arranged according to the calendar. Astronomical data and various statistics are also found in almanacs, such as the times of the rising and setting of the sun and moon, eclipses, hours of full tide, stated festivals of churches, terms of courts, lists of all types, timelines, and more. The South Australian almanacs included advertisements of local businesses, statistics of new industries in the region like mining and details of imports and exports.

Chiefly remembered as an artist, Skipper combined acute observation and a natural and cultivated skill with aesthetic sensibility. His sketches and paintings of the landscape, the flora, fauna and Aboriginals of South Australia, and of the streets, buildings, people, way of life and notable events of Adelaide are of some artistic and great historical interest.

Skipper retired in 1872 and lived on a small pension on his farm at Kent Town where he died intestate on 7 December 1883. He was survived by three sons and four daughters; his eldest son, Spencer John (1848-1903), was a journalist and satirist in Adelaide.

A selection of images from the almanacs have been chosen to view online.

Born in Norwich, Skipper joined the East India Company as a young man and served on the Sherbourne (ship). Skipper was interested in art from an early age and was encouraged by his uncle James Stark, a noted landscape painter. During his time at sea Skipper kept a journal which he illustrated with sketches. In 1836 he immigrated to South Australia, arriving on the Africaine (ship) 6 November. On the voyage Skipper met Frances Thomas, whose father Robert was to establish South Australia's first newspaper, the South Australian gazette and colonial register. They married in December 1839.

In South Australia Skipper commenced his legal career and was articled to Charles Mann the Advocate-General and Crown Solicitor of South Australia and later worked with EC Gwynne. Skipper was admitted as an attorney and proctor of the South Australian Supreme Court in March 1840. He continued his artistic pursuits however, and sketched many scenes depicting the early years of European settlement in South Australia. Skipper's satirical watercolour of Pioneers landing at Port Adelaide in 1839 mocks the primitive conditions which new settlers found when they arrived in the colony. See also,First execution in South Australia, in 1838, for shooting Sheriff Smart for a onsite sketch.

Skipper spent several years at the Victorian goldfields in 1850 and 1851. On his return to South Australia he was appointed clerk of the Local Court of Port Adelaide; a position he held until his retirement. Skipper's sketches and paintings provide a valuable record of life in South Australia from 1836. His key achievements include his arrival to South Australia 1836 articled to Charles Mann, Advocate-General and Crown Solicitor, admitted as attorney and proctor of the South Australian Supreme Court March 1840, clerk of the Local Court of Port Adelaide 1852-1872.

Skipper is known for his tiny detailed sketches in the margins of his diaries and published books in his possession. The State Library of South Australia holds several examples including Psellus' dialogue on the operation of daemons and South Australian almanack and general directory for 1841. These items can be requested and viewed in the State Library's Somerville Reading Room.

Mary Thomas, daughter of early pioneers and printing press operators, Robert and Mary Thomas, later became the second wife of Skipper. She often refers to him in her diary (PRG 1160/6, p. 28);

Nov. 14, 1844. I sat to John [Skipper] for my likeness in oils.

Related names :

Skipper, John Michael, 1815-1883

Wilkinson, George Blakiston, 1817-1888

Coverage year : 1841
Period : 1836-1851
Place : South Australia
Region : Adelaide city
Further reading :

Psellus, Michael. Psellus' dialogue on the operation of daemons : now, for the first time translated into English from the original Greek and illustrated with notes, Sydney : James Tegg, 1843 [includes marginal sketches by J.M. Skipper]

Register Newspapers Ltd. The late J.M. Skipper : a pioneer coloniest of 1836, [Adelaide, 1883]

Skipper, John Michael. Personal papers, PRG 72

Skipper, S. H. John Michael Skipper : biographical notes, Adelaide : Pioneers' Association of South Australia, 1957

Wilkinson, G.B. South Australia, Its Advantages And Its Resources Adelaide : Government Printer for History Trust of South Australia, 1983

Internet links :

Australian Dictionary of Biography Online Search for Skipper, John Michael

South Australian gazette and colonial register

SA Memory, Foundation Documents, Skipper Almanacs

SA Memory, Foundation Documents, First execution in South Australia, in 1838, for shooting Sheriff Smart

SA Memory Foundation of South Australia 1800-1851 Diary of Mary Thomas

South Australian Museum John Michael Skipper Archival collection



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