Dr John Nicol

one of the prominent members of
Edinburgh Photographic Society

Early Recollections


Photographic Society of Scotland


Edinburgh Photographic Society

John Nicol wrote an article in The American Amateur Photographer on the Jubilee number of British Journal of Photography.  in this article, he looked back many years to the early days of photography in Edinburgh.

He commented:

"During the early sixties (I am too far from home to look up dates), my laboratory at 21 Dundas Street, Edinburgh was a kind of headquarters for those interested in Photography, a class considerably different from the average amateur of to-day; and there came together such landmarks, if I may use the term, as

Horatio Ross,
Piazzi Smyth,

all or most of them members of the Photographic Society of Scotland.

And it was in consequence of certain features of that Society that the still energetic Edinburgh Photographic Society was formed.


Edinburgh Photographic Society

EPS Founding Members

John Nicol was one of the founding members of Edinburgh Photographic Society in 1861.  He spoke of dissatisfaction when Papers were read to the Photographic Society of Scotland and were not followed by discussion.

As a result, he explained, a number of members met in J T Taylor's little watchmaker's shop in South Bridge on 20 February 1861 and founded Edinburgh Photographic Society.

"There were present about ten, what would be here called 'charter members' including

Valentine of Dundee

of whom, so far as I know, only Slight and myself remain."

EPS Lectures

John Nicol was, perhaps, the most prolific of the many  men who gave lectures to EPS.  Between 1861 and 1878 he delivered lectures to EPS Wednesday Meetings on more than 40 occasions.


British Journal of Photography


Commenting on the role of the BJP, John Nicol added:

"The 'British Journal of Photography' became the organ of the [Edinburgh Photographic] Society.  ... said so on its title page, and the members were supplied with it at a reduced rate."

A J Taylor looked after BJP subscriptions and distribution of the journal to Members of Edinburgh Photographic Society until he was transferred to London to become Editor of the journal.



Thank you to Richard Holzman, Michigan, USA, for telling me more about John Nicol and his connections with the early photographic journals.

Richard has an interest in early photographic exposure meters and their inventors, and hence in Dr Nicol and F Dundas Todd.

Richard tells me:

"The Photo Beacon Exposure Tables issued by F Dundas Todd in 1896 and later changed into the American Photography Tables which were sold into the late 1920s.

Here is what I have discovered about the early photographic journals, verified by the World Cat:

Photographic Beacon

 (Nov 1885 to Feb 1887 or later)

Founded by Nicol

The Beacon

 (Jan 1889 to Dec 1891)

Founded by Nicol

Photographic Beacon

 (Nov 1885 - Feb 1887 or later)

Nicol sold his interest to Todd whose first issue was Jan. 1893.

Todd sold his interest in 1907 to Frank Fraprie of American Photographic Publishing Co. who also just acquired American Amateur Photography and Camera and Darkroom, edited by Nicol and Beach.  These were combined to form American Photography in July 1907.  Todd, Nicol and Beach remained as associate editors.



Dr John Nicol

more pages

Early recollections - PSS, EPS, BJP

Wednesday Lectures to EPS

Dry Collodion Plates