Early Norfolk Photographs
1840 - 1860
Henry Harmer Photographer
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Henry Harmer (1823 - 1896)

Solicitor, artist and photographer

Henry Robert Harmer, married to Amelia, with two children and two female servants, lived in Queen Street, Great Yarmouth and was a solicitor1 working on South Quay.  In the 1851 Great Exhibition he exhibited photographs for which he was awarded a medal and, in 1854, he was elected a member of the Photographic Society [of London]. He exhibited widely; primarily with the touring shows of the Society of Arts. His work included many Norfolk subjects, including Great Yarmouth, Caister and Castle Acre. Although he exhibited 10 photographs from both paper and glass negatives at the 1855 exhibition of the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Promotion of Fine Arts there is no record of him being active within the Norwich Photographic Society. In 1856 exhibition of the Great Yarmouth Institute Re-Union he showed photographs and watercolour paintings. 

The Museum of the History of Science in Oxford holds one stereoscopic photograph (albumen prints on card) of a street market in Great Yarmouth made by Harmer in the 1850s or 1860s. Harmer also assisted in the production of The Wonders of the Microscope Photographically revealed by Olley’s Patent Micro-photographic Reflecting Process2, a book of photomicrographs originally published in Great Yarmouth with photographs by Fisher and Harmer.

Harmer became an alderman in Great Yarmouth in 1880 and little more seems to be in the public domain about him.

The examples of his photographs, in the Gallery, are salted paper prints from the mid-1850s, and are in collection of the Norfolk County Council Library and Information Service.

Sources and Notes

  1. 1851 British Census and 1856 Craven’s Directory.
  2. Johnson, William S. Nineteenth-Century Photography: An Annotated Bibliography.
    London: Mansell, 1990.

Photographs exhibited by Harmer.

Roger Taylor in his seminal work Photographs Exhibited in Britain 1839-1865: Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 2002, lists (pp382-384) major exhibitions where Harmer showed photographs. The vast majority of these photographs were made in Norfolk.  He also exhibited publicly in Norfolk in 1855 and 1856.

Exhibition of the Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Promotion of Fine Arts in the Exhibition Rooms, Broad Street, St. Andrew’s, Norwich, MDCCCLV (1855)

367 Lane Scene, at Caister Castle, from collodion negative nfs
368 On the Wye, from paper negative  £0  4   0
369 Copy of Print, from collodion negative £0  5   0
370 On the Wye, from paper negative £0  4   0
371 Caister Castle, West, from paper negative £0  4   0
372 On the Wye, from paper negative £0  8   0
373 South View, Caister Castle, from collodion negative £0 10 0
375 Copy of Print, from collodion negative £0  5   0
376 View in Farm Yard, from wax paper negative £0  2   6
377 Copy of a Print, The Scoffers, from collodion negative £0  5   0

Great Yarmouth Institute, Re-Union Catalogue, 25th & 26th of March, 1856

  56    Fifteen photographs exhibited by Mr. H. R. Harmer
319    Photographs exhibited by Henry R Harmer