Successful dry plate creator and manufacturer Miles Ainscoe Seed was born in Lancashire to Richard and Anne Elinor Ainscoe Seed in Lancashire, England on February 24, 1843. After moving to the United States in 1867, Mr. Seed settled in St. Louis, Missouri, and became an employee at John A. Scholten's photographic studio. During his spare time, Mr. Seed conducted home experiments on the simplification of photographic negatives. After several years, he developed a more practical photographic dry plate that was quickly dubbed the "Seed Dry Plate" upon its release in 1879. Soon, photographers worldwide were using Mr. Seed's invention. The appeal of Mr. Seed's dry plates rested in their ease of transport. Photographers could now travel with these prepared dry plates and develop their photographs at their convenience.
Mr. Seed's indomitable spirit carried him through considerable adversity. It took several attempts to produce the necessary dry plate treatment components, but he persevered. He admitted that his concern was not for the problem itself, but on how to troubleshoot the problem successfully. His resolve would again be tested when the M. A. Seed Dry Plate Company was completely destroyed by fire in 1882. Mr. Seed rebuilt the factory and within four months, M. A. Seed dry plates were once again rolling off the assembly line.
By the twentieth century, Mr. Seed's dry plates were universally regarded as the finest in the world. Although he was a prosperous businessman, Mr. Seed's interest in dry plates went far beyond commercial sales. He wanted to offer his expertise to assist photographers on how to get the greatest use of his plates. He became his company's official and extremely effective spokesman who was frequently asked to deliver speeches on the art of photography at national conventions. His company published The Art of Negative Making, which became known in industry circles as the photographic 'bible.'
Mr. Seed's company was incorporated in July 1883, and the Eastman Kodak conglomerate of Rochester, New York purchased the thriving business in 1902, retaining him as a consultant. However, Mr. Seed announced his retirement shortly thereafter, and devoted his last years to religious study and contemplation. His philanthropy was well known to the people of St. Louis, with military causes and the YMCA the appreciative recipients of his charitable efforts. Mr. M. A. Seed died in his beloved St. Louis on December 4, 1913 at the age of 70. He left behind his wife Lydia, seven children, and what were arguably the finest dry plates ever produced.
1918 The Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. VIII (New York: The Press Association Compilers, Inc.), p. 88.
1903 The Photo-Miniature, Vol. IV (New York: Tennant and Ward), p. 394.
1913 Snap Shots, Vols. XXIV-XXV (New York: Snap-Shots Publishing Co.), p. 237).
Copyright © 2002 - 2019 Historic Camera