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Adam Wardrope



Professional Photographer


Adam Wardrope Steele was based in Leith from 1871 to 1891. He was:

-  1871-75:   Photographer, etc.

-  1876-84:   Photographer, Fine Art Gallery, etc.

  Portraits enlarged and diminished.

  Colouring artistically executed

-  1885-86:   Photographer and portrait painter

-  1887-89:   Photographer, portrait painter, and carte enlarger.

Carte de visite

Carte de Visite  -  Photographer: AW Steele, Leith

  Copyright: For permission to reproduce,
 please contact

Most cartes de visite were portraits of single sitters, or occasionally couples.  Here is one of a group taken at AW Steele's studio.

Tinplate Photograph

I recently received an email from Tod Scott, Nova Scotia, Canada, enclosing a copy of a carte-de-visite of his gt-gt-grandfather, dressed in an overcoat with fur trimmings and a top hat.  The photo was probably taken around the late 1870s. 

Tod mentioned that he also had a larger tintype reproduction of the same photograph.  Might this also have been produced by A W Steele?  This is the only instance that I have come across of a tintype and carte de visite of the same image.

Photographs in Collections

Edinburgh Public Library collection includes two photographs by Adam Wardrope Steele.  They are of Bernard Street in Leith and of Leith Town Hall (both c.1870)

Here is another outdoor photograph by A W Steele  -  the subject, Robert Hume, Newhaven Pilot, circa 1875,  with experimental steam driven Pilot Launch.


British Journal of Photography

Notes from the North

Dr Nicol was a regular contributor to the BJP (The British Journal of Photography).  He wrote a column entitled Notes from the North.

A letter from AW Steele was published in the 15 January 1875 edition of the BJP [page 35].  Steele took exception to comments made in Notes from the North, relating to a court case in which AW Steele was the pursuer.  Steele wrote:

"... To describe me as a "Leith Photographer" is strictly true, and to mention so kindly that I do "high class work at low prices" is only what the veracious daily press affirm and my numerous customers corroborate.

But to go on stigmatising me as "an unfortunate photographer" is a kind of advertisement surely self-contradictory and non-historical, seeing I had the unsought honour thrust upon me of being proposed and seconded, once on a time, as an honorary member of Edinburgh Photographic Society!"



Adam Wardrop [sometimes spelt Wardrope] Steel, the Edinburgh professional photographer, was the third of five children, all born in Mid Lothian.

Alexander Steel = Jane Wardrope

Married 28 May 1814, Mid Calder




John Wardrope


Adam Wardrop

b. 30 Dec 1820





Adam Wardrop Steele married Frances Elizabeth Stewart in Mearns, Renfrew on 19 July 1859.  One of their children [b.27 August 1874 in Leith] was also named Adam Wardrop Steele.

Source:  International Genealogical Index (IGI)

At the time of the 1881 Census, Adam Wardrope Steel was listed as:

Photographer and Artist:  aged 60

Born:  Mid Calder, Mid Lothian

Resident:  33, Albany Street,  Edinburgh

Wife:  Frances E


1.  Mary M

aged 11 

(born:  Edinburgh)

2.  Adam W

aged 6

(born:  Edinburgh)


Source: Photographers in Edinburgh & The Lothians to 1914 [DR Torrance]