Ovinius Davis



Ovinius Davis had studios in:

            -  Glasgow (1866 to1908) and 

            -  Edinburgh (1881 to 1928).

The firm claimed to have been established in 1850 - but where? And under what name?

They produced photos in many sizes including Gem cartes de visite and cabinet prints.

Here are Cabinet Prints by Ovinius Davis.  The subjects are two of his apprentices, both of whom went on to run their own photographic businesses:

Shop Front Preserved

Thank you to Mike Melrose, Greenbank, Edinburgh, who wrote:

Glasgow Transport Museum

"I  just caught this on the BBC Scottish News on TV at 6.30pm today.

The Glasgow Transport Museum is about to re-open.  They have a Victorian Street as part of one of the exhibits.  I noticed that it includes an Ovinius Davis Shop Front.

The piece said the  shops were saved when demolition was taking place, and moved from their original location to the museum."

Mike Melrose, Greenbank, Edinburgh:  June 1, 2011


Shop Front Preserved

Riverside Museum, Glasgow

Ovinius Davis Studio

I visited the Glasgow Transport Museum last week.  The Museum is now in a new home beside the Clyde, near where the River Kelvin joins the Clyde.  It is now known as 'Riverside Museum.

The Museum includes three streets, each representing a period of history:

-  1895 to 1930

-  1930 to 1960

-  1960 - 1980s

I found the Ovinius Davis studio in the first of these streets.

The name on the window read:



On one of the walls inside the studio, there  was this notice:



22 Main Street, Point House, Glasgow

and Regent Street, London

and all principalities and towns in the kingdom


At home, Outdoors, or in Studio


Exquisitely coloured for brooches, lockets, cases, &c.


of every description, reduced or enlarged, and printed by first class artists


Vignettes:      7s 6d per dozen

Full Length      5s0d per dozen


Exquisitely coloured for brooches, lockets, cases, &c.

Prize  Medals,  Awards for Merit,  Royal Patronage,  Worldwide Reputation

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  July 30, 2012


Two of Ovinius Davis'

George Henderson Laing

George Hamilton Laing  -  Professional photographer

©  Reproduced by courtesy of William Laing, Perth

George Henderson Laing, born 1887 was one of thirteen children - ten boys and three girls.  He was aged about 14 and apprenticed to Ovinius Davis when the photograph above was taken.

He later worked for Drummond Shields at Lauriston Place, Edinburgh, and finally owned his own business at Greendykes Road, Broxburn West Lothian, c.1922 - c.1934.

George Henderson Laing had 4 children:

1.  George Henderson Laing, b.1912 or 1913, married in Ayrshire, 1942 to Janet Livingstone Kerr.

2.  Blanche Laing, b.1914 or 1915.  She worked for photographer George Halliburton Balmain, son of JCH Balmain, the founder of the business which still traded under his name.

3.  William Laing, b.1921, and now living in Perth, 2006.  It is William who has provided me whit the Laing family details and photographs on this page.  Thank you William!

4. Norman Thomson Laing.  He was named Norman after his father's apprentice photographer Norman Thomson, pictured above.

[William Laing]

Thank you to Karen Kerr-Trudeau, Canada for telling me that:

-  George Henderson Laing was born in 1913.

-  He married Janet Livingston Kerr, daughter of George Kerr and Jane Livingstone.

[Karen Kerr-Trudeau, Canada]

Karen has been researching this branch of the family.  (George Kerr's brother was Karen's grandfather.)  If you have any information about the family that you would like me to pass on to Karen, please e-mail me.  Thank you .  -  Peter Stubbs  March 17, 2007

Norman Thomson

Norman Thomson  -  Professional photographer

©  Reproduced by courtesy of William Laing, Perth

Norman Thomson worked for Ovinius Davis at the same time as George Henderson Laing.  He later became one of the Thomson Brothers who ran a photographic business at 5 West Maitland Street, Edinburgh from 1910.

[William Laing]



In 1904, Ovinius Davis advertised:

“Cabinet prints 30/- per dozen, 

Sansortypes and “Princess portraits” from 6s.6d.”   

'Sansortype' appears at the foot of some of the company's cabinet prints.

Please click below to see one of Ovinius Davis' cartes de visite.