Early Norfolk Photographs
1840 - 1860
George Harper Photographer

George Harper (1821-1876)

Chemist and photographer

George Harper lived with his wife Frances, their four children, two servants and four young employees at Bank Plain, Norwich1.  This photograph, possibly showing the Harper residence, is in the album  by Thomas Damant Eaton titled ‘Camera Sketches’ in the collection of the Norfolk County Council Library and Information Service. Apart from an advertisement for photographic chemicals and a letter to Henry Talbot nothing seems to be in the public domain about Harper.

Sources and Notes

  1. Both the 1851 Census and Mason’s 1852 Directory list him as a ‘Chemist & Druggist.

    Advertisement in the Norwich Chronicle, 2nd August 1856.

    To Photographers                 



     Opposite Messrs. Gurneys’ Bank, Norwich,
    BEG   to  acquaint   the  photographic  Public   that
    they  are  now  prepared  to supply  all  the  Chemi -
    cals  necessary  for  Barnes  Dry  Collodion  process2.
    The  Collodion  can  either  be  had  as  prepared  by
    Knight  and  Co., in  4oz. bottles, 4s. 6d.,  or  as  pre -
    pared  carefully  by  themselves,  at 1s. per oz.,  or in
    4oz. stopped bottles 4s. The Bath ready prepared for
    use, according to Barnes’ formula, 7s. 6d.  per impe -
    rial   pint;   also  the  Developing   Solution,   Kaolin,
    Tincture  of  Iodine,  Solution  of  Chloride  of  Gold,
    Pure  Wood  Naphtha,  and  all other  Chemicals for
    Photographic purposes.

  2. Barnes, Robert Freeman. The Dry Collodion Process. London: R. F. Barnes & Co., Photographers, May 1856.

In 1858 Henry Talbot patented a process he called photoglyphic engraving and, despite the patent, Harper wrote to Talbot asking for advice relating to his own [Harper’s] attempt at using this process. There is no record of any reply by Talbot.

Schaaf, Professor Larry J. [Project Director]. The Correspondence of William Henry Fox Talbot. The correspondence is held in the Fox Talbot Collection in the British Library and has been transcribed and published online.

Laboratory, Bank Plain,
Nov 17 /58

To H. Fox Talbot Esqre
We trust you will not think us troublesome if we ask you a question relating to the engraving process patented by you and some prints from which were published in the Photo News last week –
We have been trying some plates for amusement but can only partially succeed This day, we exposed one of Ferrier’s transparent positives upon the carefully prepared copper plate for 2½ hours the actinic power being slow, about one half hour was bright sunshine – the picture was slightly visible when taken out of the frame – it was then dusted over with fine resin smelted (not being able previously to get a nice coating of copal upon a plate we tried) and the various solutions as recommended in the specification applied – we obtained here & there black spots etched into the plate but only a very faint etching of the picture, so faint as to be scarcely perceptible Will you be good enough to inform us whether the fault was owing to insufficient exposure, or to anything wrong about the coat of resin –
We feel sure the solutions No 1. 2. 3 were right enough as they were prepared very carefully – and were successively tried for nearly an hour

We are Sir Yours most respy, Harper & Sutton

[envelope:] H. Fox Talbot Esqr .  Laycock Abbey Wiltshire

House repairs Bank Plain
George Harper
House repairing, Bank Plain, Norwich
Salted paper print, July 1845
[Norfolk County Council Library and Information Service]