PSS History

May 1856 to December 1856

Laws of PSS

By May 1856, the following Laws of the Society had been agreed.

 1. Membership

There were to be two categories of membership, Honorary and   Ordinary Members

 Honorary Members  were to consist only of foreigners

 Ordinary Memberssubscriptions were to be:

-      one guinea  payable in advance on 1 March

-     half a guinea if admitted after 1 December

   10 guineas (or  7 guineas for life membership if 4 annual subscriptions have already been paid) for life membership

I have not found any evidence of anybody becoming a life member

The guinea subscription was sufficient to accumulate a healthy balance in the Society’s Accounts.  It remained unchanged until 1866, when subscriptions were discontinued.    


2. Meetings

The Constitution required Meetings to be held on  the 2nd Tuesday of each month from November to April:

--   to receive communications on photography

-   to discuss subjects connected therewith

-   for the exhibition of photographic work

-   for the election of members

-   but for no other purpose

3. Journals

Arrangements were made for the Proceedings of the Society to be published in the Photographic Journal, and for members to receive a copy, gratis.

4.  Exhibitions

Sellers of work at the Annual Exhibition were to pay 10% of the price to the Society.

The first  Exhibition  

The 1st Annual Exhibition was held in December 1856.  There were 8,000 visitors and  1,050 pictures.  Press coverage was very supportive and the exhibition made a profit of £29 9s 11½d

The Report at first PSS Annual General Meeting commented:

"It is not intended that the Annual Exhibition should be a means of adding to the funds of the Society; the main objects of instituting such an Exhibition being:

-    to aid in increasing the public taste for art

-    to afford the Members an opportunity of contrasting their own works with those of their fellow members, and of photographers at a distance."  

Monthly meetings

Meetings were held at 8pm in the Council Rooms of the Antiquarian Society, 117 George Street.

Each member had the right to bring a friend (Lady or Gentleman) to meetings of the Society.

Membership increased faster than anticipated.  Attendances at the monthly meetings ranged from 25 to 60 members. 

The meetings appear to have been formal, typically consisting of:

-  Minutes of the previous meeting

-  Lecture delivered to the Meeting, 

-  Motion, proposed and seconded, thanking the speaker

-  Display of items.


Lectures delivered between May and December were:

-    Photography …………................................. Sir David Brewster

-    The Calotype Process …............................... William Walker

-    The Waxed Paper process ............................. Thomas Keith

Tour in France……………............................ Cosmo Innes

The Forgery of Bank Notes by Photography .. TB Johnston

-     Photo Lithography……….........................… N MacPherson

All the speakers above, except Mr MacPherson were then Council Members of the Society.

The last two of these lectures were both given on the evening of 9 December 1856.  There was an attendance of fifty Members.  The minutes of the December meeting record that:

"The Chairman, Messrs Tunny, Jas Ross, TB Johnston, Geo Harvey and D O Hill afterwards made observations on he subject of Mr Macpherson’s  communication."

Displays of Photographs and Equipment

Displays at the Monthly Meetings included:

-    several collections of travel photographs, and examples of photograph by the Photolithography process

-    a Papier maché photo disk made by Messrs Jenners and Bettridge (which was  strongly recommended)

-    a new form of double stereoscopic camera - taking a Series of Views in the open air without a dark tent

-    an apparatus for carrying a number of prepared glass plates, for transferring them to the Camera in the open air one after the other

Society’s Albums

Donations to the Society’s albums were made by several Members of the Society:

-   Horatio Ross of Netherley, Stonehaven

-   Rev T M Raven of Bedale, Yorkshire

-   CJ Burnett of Aberdeen

-   Ivan Szabo of St Andrews, Fife