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British Journal of Photography Almanac Annual Summary of Photographic Inventions and Events in Photographic History/1913

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Edited by George E. Brown, F.I.C

AMONG those whose deaths have taken place since the publication of the 1912 ALMANAC are: -
Henry Snowden Ward (Dec. 7, 1911) W. S. Bird (Feb. 5, 1912)
George Taylor (Dec. 15, 1911) J Pattison Gibson (April 22, 1912)
William Gill (Feb. 23, 1912) J. Lillie Mitchell (July 13, 1912)

The death of Mr. Snowden Ward took place suddenly in New York. Mr. Ward had left England at the end of October to fulfil a series of lecturing engagements, which, in the ordinary course, would have been completed within five months. In addition to appearing in his private capacity, he represented the Dickens Fellowship as a commissioner, and was to have taken part in a number of functions arranged by members of this body in the United States. He was found unconscious in bed at the national Arts Club, New York (his headquarters in America), on December 5, and, after an unsuccessful operation succumbed two days afterwards. He was interred at Albany on Saturday, December 9, 1911.

During the year or two previous to his death Henry Snowden Ward had largely withdrawn himself form the photographic journalistic world, in which for many years he had been a leading personality. His interests and inclinations had gradually led him into literary fields, and he had found the lecture platform a welcome change form the editorial chair. Yet it is not too much to say that the news of his sudden death aroused a more widespread sorrow and sense of personal loss than would that of any contemporary of his in photographic circles. Few men in any walk of life had his natural quality of charming all classes of people. His personality addressed itself without effort or affectation to all sorts and conditions of men, and made him not only the friend and adviser of many, but the receptacle of confidences from still others who found in him a sensitive and loyal sympathizer such as few are able to be.

The event of his life can soon be told. He was born at Great Horton, near Bradford, in 1865, and was thus only forty-six at the time of his death. His father’s business of stuff manufacturing did not attract the literary bent of the boy. At eighteen, he edited and published a magazine, “The Practical Naturalist,” and a year or two later, in 1884, became connected with the firm of Percy Lund and Co. (now Percy Lund, Humphries and Co.), at that time (1884) publishers and stationers catering specially for photographers. For them, Mr. Ward founded and edited “The Practical Photographer” and by his active conduct of it did much form 1889 to 1893 in the interests-technical, commercial, and social-of professional photographers. In 1893 he married Miss Catherine Weed Barnes, daughter of Mr. William Barnes, of New York, and herself a most enthusiastic amateur photographer in the days when amateur photography was a more serious pursuit than it is now. Mr. Ward severed his connection with the Bradford firm, and, with his wife, founded the monthly magazine, “The Photogram.” Their direction, which was one of great energy and originality, speedily caused the publication to take a leading place in photographic journalism, though its success, as a commercial property is open to doubt. The sister magazine, “The Process Photogram,” now “The Photo-Engraver’s Monthly,” was founded in 1894, and the pictorial annual, “Photograms of the Year," in the same year. Particularly in connection with photo-mechanical processes, then coming largely into vogue, Mr. Ward accomplished a great deal in advancing the craft, in resisting trade oppression, and in distributing a knowledge of technical advances in these processes.

Through these publications made great demands upon his personal attention, yet he took a most active interest in photographic institutions, among them the Royal Photographic Society, the Photographic Convention, of which for may years he was a member of council and president at the Canterbury meeting in 1909, the Photographers’ Benevolent Association (now defunct), and many photographic societies at whose exhibitions he was in great request as a judge. Nevertheless, he early embraced every fresh opportunity of the technical journalist. For example, on the discovery of the X-rays, he was one of the first experimenters in England, wrote the first handbook of the subject, and was one of the founders of the Röntgen Society. He threw himself into the propagandist work of photographic recorded with Sir Benjamin Stone, was one of the first to draw attention to the use of photography in Press illustration, and was ahead of his time in establishing a bureau for the supply of photographs to the Press.

For some year past Mr. Ward, with his wife, had taken keen interest in the application of photography to literary topography. The first outcome of their work in this field was the book on Stratford-on-Avon, dealing with the life of Shakespeare, and illustrated by photographs of Mrs. Ward. This was followed by a volume dealing with the wider subject of the life of Dickens and the scenes of his novels, by the “Canterbury Pilgrimages," and by a photographically illustrated edition of “Lorna Doone.” A natural Step from the preparation of these books was lecturing on the subjects. For several years past Mr. Ward had visited the United States on a lecture-tour round the chief cities-a strenuous life, which, it will be remembered, led to the collapse of Dickens.

Those who knew him only by his writings, or by correspondence, could form no idea of the fun, good spirits, and humour which were a part of his nature. He was most serious in doing anything to which he put his hand-indeed, to an excess, so that things which might have brought relaxation and recreation to him were undertaken with a zest and nervous energy which often taxed his powers instead of relieving them, he lived a life of restless work. He would have subscribed to the sentiment of R. L Stevenson: -“By all means, finish your folio, even if the doctor does not give you a year; even if he hesitates about a month, make a brave push and see what can be accomplished in a week.” Yet engrossing as he found the pursuits he followed, his time and energies were eagerly placed at the disposal of any who asked help or advice of him. Indeed, to state a difficulty was enough to evoke the help and suggestions which Ward was ever ready to render, at the cost of putting his own immediate work on one side. He was quick and adroit to proffer material aid when it was needed, and bestowed many private benefactions spontaneously, where he saw them to be needed. Though he was brought in contact with many phases of human life, nothing blurred his kindly outlook on men and their actions. His memory will long survive among those who knew him as a man of truly great qualities, without a shade of bitterness in his nature, and the firmest and most loyal of friends.


In the death of Mr. George Taylor, suddenly, from heart failure, at the National Liberal Club, on December 15, a notable figure passed form the ranks of commercial photography. Mr. Taylor was head of the firm of A. and G. Taylor, pioneers in the supply of cheap photographic portraits and enlargements. A Scotsman by birth, Mr. Taylor was possessed of keen business instincts, yet the story of his success must sound like a romance in the ears of photographers who are put to hard shifts in making a bare living out of photography. The late Mr. Taylor started life as a carpenter’s apprentice at Aberdeen, his employer being associated with the building of the Castle at Balmoral. Having dabbled as an amateur in photography, it occurred to young Taylor that it might be worth while to secure photographs of Queen Victoria and her family. Taylor enlisted the aid of John Brown, whose friendship he had made while engaged on the Castle works, and as her majesty willingly consented, a series of valuable copyrights were obtained. Upon the sum realised form the sale of these photographs Mr. Taylor opened a studio and apparatus-store in London, and within a few years was well on his way to the command of a great fortune. He opened studios in a number of the principal towns of the country, and having organized a complete system of “clubs” in connection with factories, workshops and offices, the working people in all parts of the country were photographed, either singly or in groups, on a vast scale. By his own confession he was, at the end of four years, making £5,000 a year, at the end of ten years, £10,000 a year, and at the end of twenty years £20,000 a year, and for a few years succeeding (at which time he was doing a huge trade in pictorial postcards) he made even £30,000 a year.


In the death of William Gill British photographers have lost a member of their profession, who, by his artistic work, his long and successful career, as well as by his personal qualities, took a leading place in their ranks. He was an artist by training; much of the decorative work in his own studio and reception room was done with his own great hands, and the success of his business a Colchester owed a great deal purely to his skill with the brush and pencil. Mr. Gill, however, was not one of those who despised the beauty of photographic quality. His work shown at exhibitions-and years ago he was accustomed to send a good deal to the Royal and other photographic shows-was always characterized by a prevailing sense and mastery of photographic technique. In portraiture quite a few styles of posing originated from him, and his advocacy of the real as distinguished form the sham studio accessory has contributed towards the disrepute into which fortunately the artificial studio background and accessory have recently fallen. Mr. Gill became a member of the Royal Photographic Society in 1894 and a Fellow in the following year. He was one of those who quickly threw in his lot with the photographers who established the Professional Photographer’s Association, and after several years serving on the council of that body, became its president in March 1910. His sudden death at the age of fifty-eight will be widely regretted, not only by those who knew him form his work as a photographer and a member of the Professional Photographers’ Association, but especially among the smaller circle who esteemed him for his personal qualities.


W. S. Bird was, with the late Mr. J. R. Sawyer, one of the founders of the Autotype Company, and was for many years its active general manager. Mr. Bird will also be remembered for his zealous and unselfish work in connection with the then Photographic Society of Great Brittan, now the Royal Photographic Society. For many years he acted as treasurer and helped the society through many difficult times. He was one of those who strenuously advocated the improvement of the Society’s status, and it was largely due to his activity that its incorporation as a Royal Society was secured.

Mr. Bird was a man of charming personality, and won the esteem and confidence of all who came in contact with him. He was a brilliant after-dinner speaker, and his presence at the annual dinners of the R.P.S. will not be forgotten by those who had the pleasure of listening to him. At the time of his death he was eighty-five years of age.


Pattison Gibson was one of the best-known men in photographic circles in the North of England. A Northumbrian by birth, the whole of his life was spent in his native town of Hexham. His calling, pharmacy, brought him into practical touch with photography in the very early days of the art. He commenced his own practical work in 1856, and this witnessed the development of the wet-plate process and its displacement by modern gelatine emulsion. In these days Mr. Gibson was one of the most prominent of the workers, sending to exhibitions, and his photographs brought him awards form all parts of the world. Holding a conservative and eminently sane view of the possibilities of photography as a pictorial art, his work was chiefly characterized by attractiveness of subject, and he himself spared no pains in doing everything possible for the final photograph at the time of making the exposure. Of late years his work had been almost entirely missing from exhibitions walls, and the latter years of his life were devoted chiefly to the archaeology of his native country. He was a member of the Newcastle Society of Antiquaries, the Northumberland and Durham Archaeological Society, and an honorary member of the Glasgow Society of Antiquaries. He took a great interest in educational matters, and was a Governor of the Hexham Grammar School, whilst for over thirty years of his life he was actively connected with the Volunteer movement. At the time of his death Mr. Gibson was seventy-four years of age.


Mr. Mitchell was well known as a general manager of the London Stereoscopic Company, with which he was connected for over twenty-two years, retiring only a comparatively short time ago. He was also at one time treasurer of the Photographic Copyright Union. Among others whose deaths have taken place during the past year are: -Mrs. J. M’Ghie (Jean Warneuke), a pioneer in portrait photography form the year 1854; Walter William Everitt, miniature painter and son of Henry Everitt, of the old firm of Turner and Everitt; William Griggs, well known as an experimenter in photo-chromo-lithography; Thomas Illingworth, photographer, of Halifax; Colonel Giuseppe Pizzighelli, a leader of scientific and experimental photography in Italy; Robert W. Munro, founder of the firm of manufactures of industrial photographic plant; Arthur H. Pitcher, photographer, of Gloucester; J.D.D. Cogan, the nonagenarian experimenter and lecturer of Bath, and one of the first to practise Talbotype; J.S. Bergheim, of soft-focus lens fame; John Leighton, a founder of the Royal Photographic Society; Georg Meisenbach, the pioneer in half-tone reproduction, and M.A. Davanne, the doyen of French photographic chemists.