PSS History

1858-1859 Session

Appeal for more Lecturers

At the start of the Session, PSS Members received a letter encouraging them to contribute Papers to the Society.  The letter said:

"One of the main objects of the Society is to promote the advance of the Art by affording a means of mutual communication in reference to new discoveries, new adaptations, new methods of manipulation

There can be no doubt that almost every member of the Society has made discoveries of importance in the process to which he devotes himself which, if made public would greatly facilitate the progress of others."

Monthly Meetings

During the Session, all lecturers except Lyndon Smith were PSS Members.  Their  subjects were: 

The Pyrenees .............................................. Rev T M Raven

The Alabastine Process ............................. JT Taylor

The Law of Copyright and Photography .... JM Duncan

The Wet Collodion Process and Printing .. Lyndon Smith

Actinic Phenomena ......................................Prof. George Wilson

Glycerine in the Collodion Process ........... CGH Kinnear

More New Members

In early1859, a variety of photographers, artists and professional gentleman joined the Society; 25 new Members in the first 4 months including: 

-  George Washington Wilson, photographer, Aberdeen

-    Miss Taylor, photographer, George Street, Edinburgh.  [It was an unusual event to attract a lady who was not a titled Lady.]

-    Melville S Swinton of the Bengal Civil Service, Edinburgh, and

-    Peter Dow, Station Master, Linlithgow, adding a little variety to the occupation of the members, amongst the Professors, Doctors, Teachers, Lawyers and other professional gentlemen.

Silver Medal for TM Raven and Lyndon Smith

A Competitive Photographic Exhibition was held in 1859.  Two Silver Medals were awarded, chosen by a vote amongst the PSS Members.  By a clear majority, the winners were:

-  Best Photograph in the Exhibition by an Artist 

  Mr Lyndon Smith:  "The Rising Mist " (Calotype)

-  Best Photograph in the Exhibition by a Member of the Society

  Rev TM Raven:  "Pierrefitte"  (Calotype)

Both the Medal winners had delivered Papers to PSS during the 1858 - 59 Session.

Gold Medal for Fox Talbot

The Committee also took the unusual step of awarding a Gold Medal in March 1859.  The Society had voted unanimously that this medal should be awarded to Fox Talbot:

 "in consideration  of his discoveries in Photography."


David Likar, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia has raised the question of whether or not the Photographic Society of Scotland might have been the first photographic society in Great Britain and Ireland to offer prize medals.

If you know the answer to this, please email me.  Thank you

David added:

"The Photographic Society of London (now the Royal Photographic Society) introduced its large silver Exhibition Medal in 1863.

The reasons given for its introduction were:

1.  To boost flagging interest in there exhibitions.

2.  They had been inspired by the large bronze medals awarded in the 1862 Great Exhibition in London.

3.  The Photographic Society of Scotland had been awarding medals at their exhibitions, but the Photographic Society of London had not."