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  John J. Griffin & Sons Ltd.


Library of Congress, photograph archive
Washington Post Newspaper, September 17, 2013; article by By John Kelly
Fine Books Magazine article, "Waverly auction..", September 9, 2013

In 1828 the firm was located at 64 Hutcheson and listed as Griffin, Richard & Co., Booksellers and Publishers, Public Library and Newsroom.

In 1832 Richard Griffin died and John Joseph took over running the business. Richard's son Charles at the age of twelve began to assist John Griffin. In the same year John married Mary Ann Holder, by whom he had twelve children.

In 1834 John Joseph with his natural attraction to chemistry devoted great efforts to popularizing the study of chemistry. He wrote then published his own book, Chemical Recreations: a popular manual of experimental chemistry.

Shortly after the announcement by Daguerre in 1839, the House of Griffin began servicing the needs of Daguerreotypist with chemicals, apparatus and supplies. The book publishing arm allowed Griffin to include his photographic catalogues as an appendix to his published books. A John J. Griffin trade catalog was included in the firms famous Encyclopedia Metropolitana as part of Robert Hunts early Manual of photography.

In 1841 John J. founded the "Chemical Society" with headquarters in London. The Society was incorporated by Royal charter in the year 1848.

In 1842, with Charles having grown up and capable of running the publishing business, John and Charles divided the partnership. John established the scientific instrument and the chemical business as a separate institution and moved it to London, settling down at 53 Baker Street, postman square and appropriately naming the new firm John J. Griffin & Co., the publishing branch remaining in Glasgow continued as Richard Griffin & Co.

In 1848, the two firms resolved to transfer its center to London, but the association with the City of Glasgow and university remained strong.

In 1852, John Joseph and his nephew Charles dissolved their partnership with the uncle retaining the London based scientific instrument-making and chemical part of the firm. Charles Griffin became sole director of one of the most successful and influential publishing houses of the era. From this time the firm carried the name of Charles Griffin & Co..

In 1860, John Joseph Griffin publishes his own book, Chemical Reactions: A Popular Manual of Experiemtnal Chemistry.
In approximately 1861 John Giffin partnered with Bohn and formed Griffen, Bohn & Co., Stationers' Hall court.

In 1862 Charles Griffin died and the publishing business left in trust was taken over by his wife Elizabeth Eves Griffin, who developed a remarkable ability to manage the publishing business, assisted by her brothers.

In 1877 on June 9th, John Joseph Griffin Died. His operations at 22 Garrick Street, Covent Garden W.C. continued.

In 1898 the firm introduced to the European market a novel developing paper called Velox. Velox paper, was invented by Leo Baekeland, a Belgian-born American chemist in 1893 who sold it through his Nepera Chemical Company in Yonkers, New York. However by 1898-99 the rights were sold to George Eastman who is presumed to have made a deal with Griffins. Velox was the first photographic paper that could be printed in artificial light or as Eastman coined it the “first of the true gaslight papers” ideally suited for amateurs. Four types were made, including "carbon Velox" for matt finish surface, Glossy Velox" for an enameled surface, Special Glossy for soft effects, and Rough Velox for naturalistic effects. The process involved very slow developing of silver chloride contact print paper, much slower than Bromide, and therefore did not require a dark room or colored glass. Also in the same year the firm opened a new factory on Sardina street, just off of Lincoln's Inn Fields.

At the turn of the century, the firm advertised a unique new camera line called the Pocket Cyko, meant to mean easy. The two models produced are believed to be of Griffin design that featured a unique construction entirely made of aluminum, which the folded into a flat box for portability.

In 1921, John Ross Griffin who was the grandson of John Joseph died. He was connected with the company until his death.

The "House of Griffin" was pioneer photographic supply house, in addition to a significant book publisher.

1903 Dictionary of National Biography p.227
1920 Griffins Centenary Volume of Charles Griffin & Co.

# 2076
2019-01-23 18:21:54

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