John Reid, Jr. was born to John Sr. and Ann Allan Reid in Dundee, Scotland on December 19, 1835. His family moved to the United States six years later and after settling in Paterson, NJ, Mr. Reid apprenticed at Rogers Locomotive Works, one of several railway operations in the region. He became interested in the daguerreotype process as a teenager, and by the 1850s was producing wet collodion ambrotypes. Mr. Reid shared an office with his brother Alexander, a dentist, at 83 Main Street, and the siblings advertised as "[Reid & Brother] Dentist & Daguerreotypes" until Dr. Reid's death in 1862. As his business grew, so did his family. He married Frances Mosson and together they had daughters Fannie, Caroline, and Bertha, and son John.
After serving in the Civil War, Mr. Reid returned to Paterson and his photographic enterprise, specializing in large format outdoor photography. He produced more than 200 landscape stereographs, which included some breathtaking views of Paterson's Passaic Falls and surrounding areas. Mr. Reid wisely elected to focus on subjects with which he was well familiar. He found inspiration in his hometown's many railroads. He was commissioned by Rogers, Cooke & Co., and Danforth to produce photographs of their trains for promotional purposes. Mr. Reid's instruments of choice were Scovill's view boxes manufactured by the American Optical Company and favored Scovill's 'pearl' paper for his prints. He preferred the wide aperture Morrison lenses to produce his sharp and clean landscape images. The Morrison rectilinear variety was also practical because it was an excellent copying lens. His photograph of 1st Lt. James T. Gibson of the 33rd New Jersey Volunteers, which won an award at Philadelphia's Centennial Exhibition in 1876, reveals Mr. Reid to be equally accomplished in portraiture. His works also received medals at the Paris Exposition (1878) and Chicago's Columbian Exhibition (1893). Mr. Reid prided himself on printing his own rag paper pictures and on using his own superior emulsion, which resisted the rapid deterioration that often plagued the prints of his contemporaries.
John Reid, Jr. remained a champion of wet plate photography until his death on April 7, 1911 at the age of 75. Mr. Reid's locomotive images were fondly remembered in a March 1937 article in Railroad Stories entitled, "A Famous Photographer of Iron Horses."
2011 Civil War Cartes de Visite: 1st Lt. James T. Gibson (URL: http://www.nj.gov/state/archives/images/sdea4010/SDEA4010-130.jpg).
2015 Civil War Era CDV Image with Paterson, New Jersey Backmark (URL: http://www.shilohrelics.com/images/store/CEE6D6C30E0A4308AB583EBA944DF30DDSC01989.jpg).
2001 Clifton (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing), p. 20.
2004 Historic Passaic County: An Illustrated History by Edward A. Smyk (San Antonio: Historical Publishing Network), p. 31.
2009 John Reid by Arthur H. Miller (URL: http://www.lakeforest.edu/library/archives/railroad/John_Reid.php).
2004 Nineteenth Century New Jersey Photographers by Gary D. Saretzky (URL: http://gary.saretzky.com/photohistory/resources/photo_in_nj_July_2010.pdf).
1872 The Photographic Times, Vol. II (New York: Scovill Manufacturing Company), pp. 114-115.
1884 The Photographic Times, Vol. XIV (New York: Scovill Manufacturing Company), p. 564.
1887 The Photographic Times, Vol. XVII (New York: Scovill Manufacturing Company), p. 173.
1883 The Photographic Times and American Photographer, Vol. XIII (New York: Scovill Manufacturing Company), p. 68.
2015 Photographs from the Archive of Samuel Dunning, a Steam Locomotive Engineer (URL: http://www.nestorsbridge.com/Dunning).
2003 Railway Photography by Brian Solomon and John E. Gruber (Iola, WI: Krause Publications), pp. 17-18.
1910 Snap Shots (New York: Snap-Shots Publishing Co.), p. 419.
Return to Previous Page
Return to the History Librarium
Copyright © 2002 - 2019 Historic Camera