22 Rare Photos of St. Andrews, Scotland in the 1840s

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John Adamson (1809-1870) was one of the pioneering photographic chemists in Scotland. He was born in Burnside, Fife, and studied medicine in St Andrews and Edinburgh. While developing his practice, he taught Chemistry and Natural Science at Madras College school (1837-40) and became interested in photography. He took the first successful calotype photograph in Scotland.

From 1838-70 he was the curator of the St Andrews Literary and Philosophical Society’s Museum, where he and his brother Robert used photography to document the museum’s acquisitions. He took up photography again after his brother’s death in 1848 and taught Thomas Rodger.

Some of these images are original salted paper prints; these have experienced noticeably more deterioration with color shift and fading and losing detail and other fun stuff that happens when photos deteriorate. The others come from images of the negatives themselves, digitally transferred into positive images by the University of Glasgow Library. Paper negatives are more stable than salt prints, and much of the original detail and contrast is preserved. Originally, the salted paper prints would have looked more like the digitally altered images.

St. Andrews Cathedral and St. Rule’s Tower. From negative.

The cathedral and tower, original salted paper print.

South Street, from negative.

St. Andrews Castle, salted paper print.

St. Andrews Castle. From negative.

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