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PSS - 7th Exhibition

March 1863


An Open Photographic Competition

Having made a loss of about £40 on the 6th PSS Exhibition, the Council expressed some doubts at the May 1862 AGM about holding another exhibition in the winter of 1862-63.  

The council, nevertheless suggested that if an exhibition was to be held,  medals should be awarded for:

  • Best Portrait or Group

  • Best Landscape

  • Best Instantaneous Picture embracing figures in motion and of a size not less than 7 inches by 9 inches.

A compromise was reached.  It was agreed that there would not be an exhibition similar to those in previous years.  Instead, there would be an Open Photographic Competition for which PSS would award medals.  The third medal suggested above was not offered but others were.

No admission charges

It was agreed that the pictures entered in this competition would be displayed for a week from 25 March 1863 at 117 George Street, the premises where PSS held their regular meetings.   

The exhibition was seen by PSS members and the public, who were admitted, free of charge.  In fact, the exhibition was so popular with the public that it remained open for a further four days.  No arrangements were set up for selling any of the exhibitors' photographs. 

101 frames

The exhibition was open 10am - 5pm and 7pm - 9pm.  The Council reported:

"The walls of the Hall were adorned by the Photographs, Prints in Carbon and Printer’s Ink, and on the table was a collection of cameras, lenses &c, sent in competition for the Society’s Medals. 

As the collection was a competing one, it was naturally a limited exhibition, but the collection included specimens of the principal photographers of the day, comprising Robinson, Mayall, Rogers, Tunny, Maxwell Lyte, Vernon Heath, Annan and many other names in the art."

The British Journal of Photography reported that there were about 101 frames, some of which contained two or more pictures:


Five Silver Medals were awarded.  They were:

Best Portrait or Group

Henry Peach Robinson, Leamington:   'Bringing Home the May''

The PSS judges wrote:

"It is recommend that the prize for the best Portrait or Group  be awarded to Mr. Robinson’s “Bringing Home the May”.  At the same time, the committee have some doubts whether it was the meaning of the Society in presenting the subjects for prizes to embrace “Composition Pictures” of this class.

Still, as the picture falls within the description of “a Group”  they have not thought themselves at liberty to exclude it from the competition, though doubtful whether any fair competition can be instituted between such elaborate compositions and simple figures or groups.  They would suggest to the Society that in future any ambiguity on this point should be resolved."

Laying aside Mr Robinson’s picture, the Committee would have found great difficulty in deciding between the competing claims of Mr Tunny who contributed a beautiful portrait of a young gentleman and some of the admirable small pictures of Mr Rogers of St Andrews."    [PSS Judges comments]

Best Landscape

-  J Maxwell Lyte, Bagnères de Bigorre:  ''Lac d'Oo'  AND

Vernon Heath, London:  "Near Burnham"

The PSS judges wrote:

"In landscape photography the committee have found the merits of Mr Maxwell Lyte’s Pyrenean landscapes and the charming English landscapes of Mr Vernon Heath, so equal - though in different styles - that s the only practical solution of the difficulty they would recommend that a medal should be given to each.  They would also mention  as following close on the two names already mentioned, the contributions of Mr Mudd (although the Committee scarcely consider his large view of the Castle Craig  equal to that for which the landscape prize was awarded last year), Mr Annan and Mr J Thomson."   [PSS Judges comments]

Best Prints in Carbon or Printing Ink

-  John Pouncy, Dorchester:  ''Prints in Carbon"

Improvements in the Apparatus connected with Photography 

-  P Meagher, London  "Binocular Camera"



Fraser Anderson


Fraser Anderson wrote, enclosing:

"three framed photographs, done by the transfer process, with negatives direct from nature &c."    [letter:  Fraser Anderson to PSS]

Thomas Annan

200 Hope Street

Thomas Annan sent 7 framed photographs.  He did not win a Medal, but his entry was praised by the judges.

On receiving his photographs back from the exhibition,  Annan wrote:

"I don’t feel in the least disappointed for not getting a medal.  I had very little time for landscape work last year, and I think I have got more praise than I deserve.

I have not a good “carte” of myself.  I had to give up taking portraits last year in consequence of my premises being too small.

I have now erected printing premises in the neighborhood of Glasgow, and will get my portrait room in order again.  I will send you my portrait when I get it taken." 
[Letter:  Thomas Annan to PSS - 13/4/1863]

James [or Alex] Asher

Millers Studio, Dunfermline

James Asher wrote, when he sent his entry to the exhibition:

"I’ll send over a frame of cartes with the mid-day coach on Wednesday. I intended to have sent two frames , one entirely of vignetted heads and the other figures standing and sitting, but the mounts in which I was to place them got very much damaged in coming thorough the “post” from London.  So I must content myself with one from this time."
[Letter:  James Asher to PSS]

J Brennan

Douglas, Isle of Man

2 landscapes

Bulloch Brothers

A carte de visite mounting machine

John Burton &
Robert Pateson


A large frame containing:
-  several landscapes of Lancashire 
-  stationary groups

[with acknowledgement to John Garlington for correcting the above entry]

JH Dalmeyer


George A Dean
Douglas, Isle of Man

George A Dean enquired whether or not his entry would be permitted.  He sent:



Fraser & Anderson
 [or Possibly High Street, Preston

-  3 framed photographs from nature (for sale at 7/6 each)

George A Dean


George A Dean enquired whether his photolithography entry would be admitted to the exhibition.  He sent:

"specimens of lithography, so produced from a lithographic stone (with printers' ink) by means of photographs taken from manuscripts, pen and ink sketches or engravings."   
[letter:  George A Dean to PSS 4 February 1863]

His entry was admitted.  He then wrote:

“I think the  title - 'Specimen of Printing from Photographs Transferred to Stone' to be rather more striking than Photolithography  - the public will be likely to enquire more about it under this head.”

Bainbridge, Isle of Wight

Three frames of photographs

Vernon Heath
45 Piccadilly, London 
and Sherwood Cottage, Roehampton

Exhibition Entry

Vernon Heath wrote that he intended t contribute to the exhibition, but asked to be allowed a few days' extension for submitting entries.  He wrote:

 “Our exhibition closes on 2nd March and I know you would have some contributions from it if time could be extended for the few days I mention.  [Letter: Vernon Heath to PSS: 19 February 1963]

He also wrote:

“You should have a paper from me, most certainly during your present session, but I can hardly say when at the moment for I have so much to do preparing for the ‘Marriage’ at Windsor that I do not like to make a promise.”  
[Letter: Vernon Heath to PSS: 19 February 1963]

Silver Medal

Vernon Heath sent a case of photographs to this exhibition.  He was awarded a Silver Medal for ''Near Burnham'.   

He wrote:

“It is very gratifying to me to find that the Society of Scotland has so kindly appreciated my contributions to your exhibition and it is the more gratifying to me for the reason that I entertain myself the very highest  opinion of very many members of your Society - and generally of the condition of photography in Scotland.”   
[letter:  Vernon Heath to PSS 14 April 1863]

Portrait of the Prince Consort

With the above letter, Vernon Heath enclosed a full length picture of the Prince Consort.  He wrote:

“The print sent you is one of a number I have been printing in this way for the Queen.  …. the likeness is one the Queen very much likes.”
[letter:  Vernon Heath to PSS 14 April 1863]

M Jackson

Cartes de Visite

M Jackson sent a frame of six cartes de visite, which he offered for sale at 6/- each unframed.

He wrote:

"I intended to have sent a pretty good collection of landscapes, but the Carte de Visite mania has prevented me from getting any prints up in time." 
[letter M Jackson to PSS - 2 February 1863]

M [or W] Jeffrey
Bloomsbury, London

Copyright photographs, untouched prints from untouched negatives:

-  'Portrait of Alfred Tennyson'

-  'Portrait of Thomas Carlyle'

KJ [or GI] Kent


-  'The Antiquary and his Child'

-  'Lost Game'

-  'Artist and the Critic'

-  'The Lesson'

Thomas HP Johnston

-  4 framed photographs of Glasgow

-  3 other photographs

John MacGregor

John MacGregor was a PSS Member who moved to St Petersburg.  He exhibited a frame of 42 cartes de visite entitled: 'The Street Cries of St. Petersburg'

J Maxwell Lyte

Instructions for framing

J Maxwell Lyte sent ten frames of views.  He asked for them to be mounted on board measuring 2ft 9 ½ ins by 2ft 2 ½ ins.

"I think the best frames will be plane black or rosewood and if you will have the kindness to order them for me I will send you a cheque on  my Bankers Coutts & Co who will give you any reference you may require. 

Allow me to apologise for the trouble I am giving you which is only excusable in as much as it is utterly impossible for me to get the pictures framed out here. 

I have only to add that in framing the pictures I wish particular care to be taken to press them forward against the glass, for if the contact is not perfect the proof loses much.

Of course it is hardly necessary to add that all flaws in the glass must be avoided , and especial care given to cleaning it.

The pictures should also be rubbed over with a bit of clean dry flannel before being placed in their frames."

Silver Medal

J Maxwell Lyte was awarded a Silver Medal for his photograph 'Lac d'Oo' .  He wrote to PSS giving thanks for the pleasant news of the Medal and added:

"You asked me to send a card portrait of myself, but I am sorry to say that I cannot send anything very artistic in that way.  The resemblance is however fair and such as it is I have much pleasure in sending it.

I am much flattered being allowed a nook in your collection of celebrities"  [letter:  Maxwell Lyte to PS 19 April 1863]

P Meagher & Co

A case of small photographic cameras for exhibition

224 Regent Street, London

A case of framed photographs

James Mudd

James Mudd sent a case of photographs.  He did not win a Medal, but his entry was praised by the judges.

John Pouncy

Carbon prints

John Pouncy sent six carbon prints to be exhibited.  He was awarded a Silver Medal.

John Pouncy sent several letters to PSS in earlier 1863 on the subject of his carbon printing.  Here are extracts from some of his letters:

"We will send you more prints in the course of a week.  I am quite willing to have any remarks from your Society believing you to have met me in a fair straight forward way"   
[letter:  John Pouncy to PSS - 12 February 1863]

 "I cannot at present see how you can consider my process wanting in 'detail' or 'distance in landscapes'.  If you can from amongst your acquaintances select me one of the largest and best landscapes you could wish and send me and I shall as soon as possible attend to your request." 
[letter:  John Pouncy to PSS - 12 February 1863]

"I compare it with the carbon one;  I will if you like send you a piece of prepared paper with directions so that you could print a carbon one yourself."
[letter:  John Pouncy to PSS - 27 February 1863]

"I hope to forward you more specimens on new white paper I am experimenting on.  Meantime I shall be glad to receive from you any negatives, small or large that contain the greatest variety of subjects and gradations that I may give your Society further proof of the capabilities of my process.

P.S.  I will not allow any specimens in London.  Therefore whatever is being said about my process is without any proof whatever, nor shall I allow any until after I have satisfied your Society"     [letter:  John Pouncy to PSS - 3 March 1863]

"I will be glad if your Society will not give any report of my prints publicly just now  -  perhaps a few weeks hence I will write you when and will forward you more specimens shortly."   [letter:  John Pouncy to PSS - 13 March 1863]

"Being so sound in theory and practice that after long and unremitted attention together with experimental application I am convinced it will never be surpassed although doubtless the results will be improved and that improvement depends chiefly upon obtaining a paper suitable for the process; these assertions may be considered premature   -   but I am quite willing that they shall bear witness against me.

Time only can decide.  Altho’ experimental practical evidence such as I suggest will satisfy candid minds.

In conclusion I need scarcely remind you of the supremacy of this description of practice as being the only photographs that will resist the fading influence of time."  
[letter:  John Pouncy to PSS - 13 March 1863]

Henry Peach Robinson

Henry Peach Robinson was awarded a Silver Medal for his photograph 'Bringing Home the May'.  This was described as "The London Prize Picture". 

He also exhibited, he sent a frame of 15 cartes-de-visite and more of his composition works:

-  The May Queen

-  The May Gatherer

He wrote on 14 April 1863:

“Please give my best thanks to your Society for the honour that it has for the fourth time done me in awarding a medal to my productions.  ....  Next to the love of the art itself the encouragement given to me by the Photographic Society of Scotland has done more towards the production of the pictures I exhibited than any other cause.”

[Letter:  HP Robinson to PSS]

There was further extensive correspondence in early 1864 concerning the eligibility of Composition Pictures – those made from more than one negative.  HP Robinson ended one of his letters to PSS with the comment: 

“Cartes-de-visite are my business.
Compositions my pleasure.”

[Letter:  HP Robinson to PSS:  25 February 1864]

HP Robinson made a personal collection of portraits of other photographers. He asked for some of his cartes-de-visite to be exchanged with PSS Members.  I would be very interested to hear if this collection of portraits survived?

Thomas Rodger
St Andrews

A case of framed photographs 

[These were entered under the name Rodgers, not Rodger]

James Scott
17 Howe Street, Edinburgh

Two improved printing frames

S Thomson

Notting Hill,


"Over a dozen photographs of archaeology, ruined castles and cathedrals including Jedburgh Abbey"  
[British Journal of Photography:  1 April 1863]

Twelve of these photographs were taken by S Thomson and were for sale at 6/- each.  The other two were sent on behalf of another photographer.

S Thomson did not win a Medal, but his entry was praised by the judges.

James Good Tunny

Tunny was the only exhibitor from Edinburgh.  

He exhibited:

"A group of ten figures , which is remarkable for the naturalness of pose and the sharp skillful manipulation throughout".    [British Journal of Photography:  1 April 1863]

Cecil Walker & Son
Norwood, London

A frame of carbon printed photographs.  The letter accompanying the exhibition entry said:

"Sir,  We have forwarded you by this day’s Rail, C Pd.  a frame of carbon printed photographs (untouched)  for your  national Exhibition which will, we trust, meet the approbation of our northern Photographic Brethren.

We have enclosed in the frame half a dozen proofs which you can submit to any chemical test which will not destroy the paper."    
[letter:  Cecil Walker & Son to PSS27 February 1863]


 WH Walker
Ross, Herefordshire

-  2 enlarged portraits, framed

-  2 unframed and untouched

WH Warner

-  2  enlarged portraits, framed and very slightly touched.

-   2 portraits enlarged from cartes, untouched



Other Photographs in Exhibitions


PSS Exhibitions:    Medals    Dates   1st    2nd   3rd   4th   5th   6th   7th   8th   9th  10th