The Royal Scottish Society of Arts


The Royal Scottish Society of Arts

Subjects Discussed

The Royal Scottish Society of Arts, held about six meetings each year, during the winter months.  Papers were read on a wide variety of subjects, not today associated with the Arts.

There were papers on engineering, railways, optics, and photography.
Several papers on photography were read at RSSA Meetings in Edinburgh from 1839 onwards. 

This was more than a decade before photographic societies began to be established around Britain, each holding its own meetings, with many of the proceedings recorded in photographic journals from the 1850s onwards.

Below are titles of some of the papers read at RSSA Lectures, for periods beginning 183918441850 and 1857.
I have abbreviated the titles in some cases.

I have shown the papers on photography and related subjects in red.




27 Mar 1839

10 Apr 1839

17 Apr 1839

On Photography

by Andrew Fyfe, Vice President of Society of Arts, Edinburgh

1 Jun 1839

Notes on Daguerre’s Photography

by Sir John Robinson , Secretary to Royal Society of Edinburgh &c. &c.


Notes on a cheap & Simple Method of preparing paper for Photographic Drawing in which the use of any salt of silver is dispensed with

Mungo Pontin FRSE, Foreign Secretary, Society of Arts for Scotland.

15 Jan 1840

On Daguerreotype

by Andrew Fyfe

9 Nov 1840

Description of the Process of Daguerreotype and Remarks on the Action of Light in that process both in respect to the Landscape and the Miniature Portraits

by Thomas Davidson MSA,  Optician, Edinburgh

11 Apr 1842

On Producing the effect of Fog in a Portable Dioarma

constructed by Goerge Tait FRSSA, Advocate

23 Jan 1843

Description of a Portable Diorama, which may be viewed by a number of persons at a time

by George Tait, Advocate, FRSSA




13 Jan 1845

On admitting the Back-Light in Portable Dioramas, upon different parts of a Picture at different times; on using Light form Oil &c.

by George Tait Esq. FRSSA


Remarks on the Trade Winds and other Curents in the atmosphere in Barbados,  with an attempt to develop the Causes of Hurricanes in the West Indies

12 May 1845

On the Registry of the Hourly Variations of the Thermometer by means of Photographic Paper

by Mungo Pontin Esq FRSE FRSSA

23 Jun 1845

On the Employment of Oxygen as a Means of Resuscitation in Asphyxia

9 Mar 1846

Description of a Model of a Machine invented by him for Drawing the Perfect Egg-Oval or Composite Ellipse

by David Ramsay Hay FRSSA, 90 George Street, Edinburgh

25 Jan 1847

Analysis of Pottery made by the Red Indians of North America

10 May 1847

Decomposition of Water by Platinum and the Black Oxide of Iron

26 Mar 1849

Description of Several New and Simple Stereoscopes

by Sir David Brewster

c. 1848

Account of a Binocular Camera

by Sir David Brewster

Dec 1849

Notice of a Chromatic Stereoscope

by Sir David Brewster




10 Feb 1851

Improvements on the River Clyde in the past 100 years

8 Jun 1846

Building Leith & Granton Railway Tunnel

27 Jan 1851

Description of a Self Acting Apparatus for Disconnecting the Carriages of a Railway Train from the Tender upon the Engine Leaving the Rails

9 Feb 1852

Cast Iron Swing Bridge  -  Peterhead Harbour

12 Dec 1853

Notice of the Time Ball at the Royal Observatory

by Professor Piazzi Smyth FRSE

12 Dec 1853

Suggestions for a Simple System of Decimal Notation and Currency after the Portuguese Model

9 Jan 1854

The Action of Sales and Rudders

Feb 1854

On Collodion Calotype

by Thomas Rodger jun., St Andrews?

10 Dec 1855

Preparing Siliceous and other Fossils for Microscopic Investigation

2 Mar 1856

Gyroscope – and a new experiment to determine the Rotation of the Earth





Experiences with a Free-Revolver Stand for a Telescope at Sea, during a voyage to Tenerife in the Summer of 1856

by Professor C Piazzi Smyth FRSL FRSE

22 Mar 1858

On the Fall of Rain in Scotland in 1857

14 Dec 1857

An Improved Electric Lamp

22 Feb 1858

On Photographic Illustrations for Books

by Professor C Piazzi Smyth FRSE VPRSSArt

13 Dec 1858

On the Floor and Surface Decorations amongst the Hindus

Nov 1859

Description of the Clock-drop for the Time-Ball on Nelson’s Monument

by Frederick Jones(?) Ritchie, Clock & Watchmaker, Edinburgh

25 Mar 1860

On a new Lime Light
by Alexander Bryson



The Royal Scottish Society of Arts