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PSS - 5th Exhibition

February 1861


February Opening

In previous years, PSS exhibitions run from December until February.  But this year it was decided that the exhibition should open in February.  It was believed that

 "a larger number of visitors might be expected at a time when there are more strangers in town and the weather was more favourable for visiting places of the kind".    [PSS Council]

The exhibition was held in DR Hay's Art Saloon, 90 George Street

The gallery is well lighted with gas, and there is now abundance of space to pass without extensive damage to the crinoline.    [The Scotsman:  2 February 1861]

Admission prices and opening times were the same as in previous years:

-       10am to 5pm:  Admission 1/-

-       7pm to 9pm:    Admission 6d or 3 for 1/-

The rooms are open in the evening a reduced rate of admission.  Under the effect of the well-arranged gas lighting, the beauties of several of the pictures come out with greater force than during the day.      [Caledonian Mercury:  4 February 1861] 

-       Season tickets 2/6d

The exhibition remained open until April.  Attendance was disappointing, but the exhibition nevertheless made a small profit. 

The Weather

The Catalogue, as well as giving the titles of prints and the authors, gave the processes used in obtaining the result.  It said:

"The glorious sun stays on his course and plays the alchemist." 
[Exhibition Catalogue]

But  The Scotsman wrote:

"There never was a more unfavorable season for the enthusiastic photographer than the spring and summer of last year."

'The rain, it raineth every day' was during the whole season a great fact which admitted of no dispute except when it poured, and if perchance, the sun ever  'stopped in his course to play the alchemist' he presented such a sloppy front, and was surrounded by so many discordant elements as to defy even an operation in wet collodion."    [The Scotsman:  4 February 1861]

[This is based on a quote from Shakespeare - King John, Act III, Scene 1:  
To solemnize this day the glorious sun stays in his course and plays the alchemist.

The Scotsman also wrote:

"The season of 1860, so bad for our gardens, bad for corn, fruit, sport, 'touring' and open-air sauntering, was especially unpropitious to photography.  A landscape in a shower does not suit the camera.

 We must congratulate the Society, therefore, upon producing such an exhibition, rather than feel surprised that it does not equal the harvest gathered in more sunny days."    [The Scotsman:  2 February 1861] 

Advances in Photography

The Caledonian Mercury wrote:

"The exhibition as a whole is superior to those of the previous 4 years., and it is but natural that it should be so, considering that the science of photography is becoming better understood through an increased  knowledge arising from never-ceasing inventions into chemistry and optics"   
[Caledonian Mercury:  4 February 1861] 


A Committee under the chairmanship of Horatio Ross selected the Medal winners.

- The Silver Medal for the best Portrait or Group was awarded to M Claudet for his 'Portrait of a Bride'.  He came from London especially to collect the medal, and had dinner with the PSS Council.

"I am very proud of that distinction.  Nothing will be more gratifying to me than to make my first appearance in our Society under such circumstances." 
[letter from Claudet to PSS]

- The Silver Medal for the best photograph on Any Other Subject was awarded to Maxwell Lyte for his photograph 'Pierrefith'.

-  A Bronze Medal was awarded to HP Robinson for his 'Paper of Merit' read to PSS during the previous season.

"I am exceedingly obliged to the Photographic Society of Scotland for the great honour it has done me in again awarding me a medal, more particularly as it is one specially provided for me."   
 [letter from Claudet to PSS]


The Rules for Exhibition were the same as for the 4th Exhibition:

 All descriptions of photographs will be admissible (as before)

 The Committee strongly recommends that pictures should be framed and glazed with margins of mounting board not exceeding 2 ½ ins in width all round.

 It also recommends that in the case of pictures smaller than 9 x 7 inches, four should be in one Frame, but a Frame containing more than one picture must not exceed 12 square feet in area

 Give details:  subject, artist, owner, process and price (if for sale)


The number of subjects exhibited exceeds 700.  The exhibits include photographs, micro-photographs and stereograms by professionals and amateurs.    [Caledonian Mercury:  4 February 1861]

Photographs were offered for sale; 10% commission was charged by PSS.  

Many, but not all, of the exhibitors are listed below.

Scottish Entries


T Annan

Photos to follow - winter scenes of Glasgow


-  1 frame of 6 portraits

-  2 frames of views

Duncan Brown

-  6 photographs at 12/- each

David Campbell
Was he from Scotland?

- 10 wet collodion photographs at  6/- and 7/6 each.


- 13 portraits

EW Dallas

- 23 photographs, mostly portraits

Archibald Downie
St Andrews

- 7 portraits

TB Johnston

TB Johnston , engravers to the Queen, lithographic printers of banknotes, cheques, etc, sent:

- 4 Scottish landscapes - all waxed paper

James Kirk

-  11 portraits and landscapes

John Lamb

-  14 frames of views at 5/-
-  1 large portrait
-  1 group of fishermen
-  10 wholeplate portraits

Kenneth McLeay

-  3 tinted collodion portraits 

John Moffat

- Frame 1 Collodion untouched = 15 portraits, including-  Right Hon WE Gladstone MP and Sir David Brewster, Principal of Univ. of Edinburgh,  Various Lords and Professors

- Frame 2 - Carte de visite portraits  (collodion)

- Frame 3 - Stereoscopic views of Scotland (wet collodion)             

- Frame 4 - Moderators of the Free Church of Scotland Assembly  

- Frame 5 - Portrait of Lord Ardmillan (collodion coloured)

- Frame 6 - Portraits (Collodion coloured)

- Frame 7 - (Collodion)

Edwin Musgrave

Edwin Musgrave, amateur photographer, exhibited:

-   1 frame of 6 photographs painted by Mrs Musgrave

-   1 frame of 4 uncoloured photographs

-   1 frame of uncoloured photographs from original pictures by Mrs Elizabeth Murray

T Rodger
St Andrews

He wrote to say that photos would follow if the light was suitable.

He then sent nine  photographs:

- 8 portraits

- 1 titled: 'St Andrews and its Seaweed'

Horatio Ross

"More scenes of the Highland chase" 
[The Scotsman:  2 February 1861]

John Ross
137 Princes Street, Edinburgh

2 portraits

James Good Tunny

- 4 frames of portraits.

"Our townsman, J Tunny, has benefited by his change of abode to the lighter region of the New Town.  He sends an excellent frame of portraits inter quos we would call attention to the living and speaking head of Mr Duncan McLaren." 
[The Scotsman:  2 February 1861]


Other Entries


Ramsay L'Amy

-  4 photographs by Ramsay L'Amy, coloured by Stewart Wharton.

James Archer

-  1 Fothergill
-  1 Whipples Albumen

Architectural Photographic Association

"Photographs from exhibitions of 1857, 1858 and 1860, so they are not so bright as new ones."

William Bell
[Is he English?]

-  12 stereoscopic slides

A Claudet

-  23 plain photographs

Thomas Davies

Landscapes - stereoscopic transparencies at 3/- each

P Ewing
[Is he English?]

-  14 historic slides

-  6 stereo slides

R Fenton

"R Fenton continues to send excellent landscapes and some still life."    [The Scotsman: 2 February 00]

John Glen

-  8 framed landscapes
-  1 frame of stereography

Isle of Wight

-  1 photograph at 5/6d
-  6 photographs at 7/- each

Vernon Heath

-  14 views of Endsleigh, Devon in 5 frames, all are by the wet process, photographed August 1860.

  "Fine landscapes of Cornwall and the South" 
[The Scotsman: 2 February 00]

Henry Hering
Photographer to the Queen

-  1 case of framed photographs

"A large collection of photographic copies of pictures of good masters"   [The Scotsman:  2 February 1861]

Capt. Alex Mitchell Inglis of Ayton Castle

-  6 portraits

M Jackson

"7 pictures, including 2 of single trees" 
[Caledonian Mercury:  4 February 1861]  

Maxwell Lyte
Bagneres de Bigorre, Pyrenees

-  18 photographs, (20 ins x 15 1/2 ins)

"Will you be so good as to order some plain gold beaded frames, glazed so as to be ready for the occasion?"
[Letter: Maxwell Lyte to PSS]

"Fine mountain scenes from the Upper Pyrenees"
[The Scotsman:  2 February 1861]

Maull & Polybank

-  19 portraits

JL Mayall

"Will you kindly send one of your servants to the Caledonian Railway Station to collect the bundle referred to above ...  It contains three additional pictures for your exhibition.

PS  By the next post, I will send you a complete set of portraits of the Royal Family of which I beg your acceptance."    [letter: JL Myall to PSS]


- 6 frames of photographs

Henry Morton

-  10 photographs 10 ins x 8 ins   at 3/- each
-  40 photographs 12 ins x 10 ins at 4/- each


-  18 framed photographs - for sale.

'Westdale in Cumberland' - perhaps his most successful picture, but we rejoice to see him venturing across the border, with views of 'Killicrankie'  and 'Falls of Tummel'    [The Scotsman:  2 February 1861]

"'Pass of Killicrankie' perhaps the finest realisation of forest scenery"     [Caledonian Mercury:  4 February 1861]

J Dixon Piper

-  8 photographs at 7/6d each

-  1 photograph at 12/6d

"Nine pictures including several studies of trees - all worthy of high praise"    [Caledonian Mercury:  4 February 1861]

"Dixon piper never fails in sharpness and good definition, but seems to be unfortunate in his choice of subjects"     [The Scotsman:  2 February 1861]

Rev TM Raven
Is he English?

- 23 wet collodion photos at 3/6 to 10/- each including frames. 

- 3 dry collodion

- 1 waxed paper

Alfred  Reeves
Is he English?

Reply:  see below **

- A case containing a microscope and cabinet of micro-photographs.  Titles:

- 'Five £ Note'

- 'Oh'

- 'Charles Dickens'

- 'See-saw'

**  Thank you to Stanley Warren for telling me:

-  The name is Alfred Reeves. (I originally had him listed above as A Reeve)

-  He is British

-  He was a microscopist.

-  For more info on Reeves, go to, an astonishing site created by Brian Stevenson who produces detailed notes and comes up with the most obscure references.  He has 'done' Reeves.

Stanley Warren: Edinburgh: June 30, 2014

Henry Peach Robinson


'A Holiday in the Wood'  at £2 2 0d

"It is the largest figure composition ever attempted in photography.  A group of merry girls and boys are disporting themselves on a grass knoll on the border of a leafy grove.  One is in eager pursuit of a butterfly; another crowns a companion with a wreath of summer flowers; a third laughs at the story or jest of one of his group seated near in the long deep grass. …..  The grouping and arrangement are the most artistic" 
[Caledonian Mercury:  4 February 1861]

-  'On top of the Hill'  at 7/6d

HP Robinson’s other picture The Top of the Hill represents a buxom country lass, halting after her toll up a steep ascent

[Caledonian Mercury:  4 February 1861]


"The price of Holiday is 2 Gns.  The price of the frame for Holiday is 3 Gns.  It was designed and modelled expressly for the picture which makes it a little more expensive than it would otherwise have been."     [Letter:  HP Robinson to PSS]



Other Photographs in Exhibitions


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