PSS History

1857-1858 Session


Sir David Brewster, President, gave the Opening lecture of the season, his topic Optics, a subject for which he had an international reputation.  On this occasion his title was:

The Character of the Image formed upon Opaque and Transparent Surfaces

The Hon Secretary, The Hon CGH Kinnear read two papers:

-  A Photographic Architectural Tour of the North of France 

-   Fothergill’s new Dry Collodion Process.

Professor MacDonald from the University of St Andrews, another founding Member of the Society, gave a lecture on:

-   A Draphicagram by which in a Single Camera a Single Picture can be taken having full Stereoscopic Relief without the Aid of a Stereoscope.

Other PSS Members who gave lectures were:

-  James Tunny  - The Vitro Heliographic Process

-  Collin Sinclair  - Mounting:  further experiments

-  Mons. Orange - Albumen Process

Finally, Professor Killard (?) spoke on:

-  The education of the Senses - with its bearing on the subject of Photographic Portraiture

Communications read at Meetings


During the Session, two Communications were read to the Society:

-   On a Method of Preventing the Bad Effects of Gutta Percha Vessels on Photographic Chemicals   - John Sang of Kirkcaldy, a regular contributor. 

An Account of a New Photographic Process.     [Which process?]  - a letter to Sir David Brewster from Dr. Dupuis, Officer of Health to the French Army of Occupation at Rome.  His subject: 

Items displayed

The practice of exhibiting photographs and equipment at the Society’s Monthly Meetings was not kept up during the 1857-58 Session.  But Members were specifically requested to send to the April 1858 Meeting:

"any Apparatus they may have possessing  novelty in principle or construction."

An interesting collection of equipment was displayed at the meeting, including:

-  several portable cameras

-  stereoscopic cameras

-  a new form of Stereoscope

-  a sliding and folding camera

-  a microscopic camera

-  apparatus for microphotography

-  Latimer Clerk’s Camera with Dark Box and Back

-  Ottewill’s New Box Camera with 6 Black Slides and Tripod Head

-  an Orthoscopic Lens and other lenses

-  several  plate boxes and improved dark slides

-  two dark tents

Success at Other Exhibitions

In December 1857 The Chairman congratulated the Society upon the excellence of the second annual exhibition now open in St David’s Street, and took occasion also to compliment Mr Ivan Szabó on having gained at the late Brussels Exhibition of Photography the only Gold Medal awarded for photographs sent from Great Britain. 

The Society’s Albums

Donations continued to be made to the Society’s Albums from:

-  Horatio Ross    (June 1857 and April 1858)

-  Fox Talbot       (Jan 1858)

-  Collin Sinclair  (April 1858)


Talbot’s donation from consisted  of 8 specimens of his process of enlarging photographs on steel plates.


Committees were established when PSS considered there were subjects worthy of investigation:

-  In April 1858, Messrs Ross, Moffat and Tunny were formed as a committee:

   " to make a trial of lenses presented by Messrs Knight & Co. and to report the results to the next meeting."

Experiments were completed and a report was delivered to the June meeting.

The 2nd AGM

Council:  At the 2nd AGM on 9 March 1858, all office bearers were re-elected with the exception of Cosmo Innes replaced George Moir as one of the Society’s Vice Presidents.

Membership:  It was reported that the Society’s membership had increased to 151, and that it comprised among its Members nearly all the Scottish professional and amateur photographers of eminence."

Exhibition:  The Council reported on the success of the 2nd Photographic Exhibition, both financially and photographically.

Copyright:  Council reported that the Law of Copyright was under consideration by the English Society of Arts.  Council was ready to cooperate in introducing a measure to afford proper security from piracy to the works of the Photographer.

Future AGMs:  It was agreed that future AGMs would be held in the evenings, rather than at 4pm, for the greater convenience of Members. 

It was also agreed that the date of the AGM should be changed from March to the 2nd Tuesday of April to the second Tuesday of April, to leave time for the Exhibition Accounts to be made up.

Special General Meeting

One event with far-reaching consequences in early 1858 was the Special General Meeting called by several of Edinburgh's professional photographers, who were dissatisfied with the way the Society was run.    

They were concerned at not being adequately represented  on the Hanging Committee which selected prints for the 2nd Exhibition, and which decided that OG Rejlander's photograph "Two Ways of Life" was not acceptable for the Exhibition.

The professional photographers' Motions were defeated at the Special General Meeting.  Most of Edinburgh's professional photographers subsequently resigned.  Many went on to become members of Edinburgh Photographic Society.

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