The successful British firm of Morgan & Kidd was a late nineteenth-century partnership between William Thomas Morgan (1838-1915) and Robert Leamon Kidd. Known largely for his successful marketing of gelatin-bromide paper negatives and crayon retouching of portraits, W. T. Morgan first worked for photographer Henry H. Hering (1814-1893), a favorite of Queen Victoria’s for his ornate hand-painted porcelain miniatures. He then shrewdly pooled his resources with the equally ambitious R. L. Kidd (1859-1895), a young inventor eager to push the envelope in the field of photographic equipment advancement. Born in Norwich in 1859, he worked with several photographers before meeting Mr. Morgan in the London suburb of Greenwich in 1879.
Shortly after forming a partnership and opening a Greenwich studio, the duo quickly patented their coating paper with an impenetrable gelatin emulsion layer that allowed for efficient and visually appealing contact printing of photographs from small negatives. This negative paper became hugely successful, but soon there were complaints about the paper's grainy texture. The partners also subsequently developed exclusive patents for magic lantern slides and for printing onto canvas, linen, and wooden surfaces and developed an auto-stop device to fit onto their film roll-holder. Morgan & Kidd’s argentic-bromide paper for photographic enlargements became an immediate best-seller. The charismatic Mr. Kidd clearly emerged as the face of the company, becoming a constant fixture at local exhibitions and co-founding the Photographic Convention of Great Britain.
After having outgrown their Greenwich facility, Morgan & Kidd moved to Richmond upon Thames, where they continued manufacturing photographic materials and frames, and experimenting with photo-ceramics. Thirty-six-year-old Robert Leamon Kidd contracted typhoid fever in the late fall of 1895, and died shortly thereafter on December 2. Thereafter, Harry Martin Dennes stepped in to fill the void, and the partnership continued under the Morgan & Kidd moniker. However, without the leadership and personality of Mr. Kidd, the business began to falter. Later, after W. T. Morgan's retirement, his son Ernest Charles managed the business with Mr. Dennes, before the original Morgan & Kidd firm was officially dissolved on June 30, 1901. E.C. Morgan continued on his own for the next several years, focusing primarily upon collotype and halftone printing.
1895 The British Journal of Photography, Vol, XLII (London: Henry Greenwood & Co.), p. 441.
2014 Company Details: Morgan & Kidd (URL: http://www.earlyphotography.co.uk/site/companies2.html).
2014 Film and Plate Holders (URL: http://www.earlyphotography.co.uk/site/holders.html).
1888 A History of Photography (Bradford, UK: Percy Lund & Co.), p. 97.
1889 The International Annual of Anthony's Photographic Bulletin, Vol. II (New York: E. & H.T. Anthony), p. 49.
1886 Journal for Amateur Photographers, Vol. XXX (London: Cassell, Petter & Galpin), p. iii.
1889 The London Gazette (10 May 1889 (London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office), p. 2585.
2016 Morgan & Kidd Biography (URL: http://www.photolondon.org.uk/pages/details.asp?pid=5460).
1901 The Photographic Dealer, Vol. XI (London: Photographic Dealer Ltd.), p. 123.
1903 The New Photo-Miniature, Vol. IV (New York: Tennant and Ward), p. 10.
1886 The Photographer’s World, Vol. I (London: Parry and Crawford), p. 12.
1895 The Photogram, Vol. II (London: Dawbarn & Ward), p. 23.
2010 Secure the Shadow (URL: http://earlyphotographers.blogspot.com/2010/08/w-t-morgan.html).
2016 Sir George Biddell Airy; Wilfrid Airy; Hubert Airy and Seven Family Members (URL: http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portrait/mw160719/Sir-George-Biddell-Airy-Wilfrid-Airy-Hubert-Airy-and-seven-family-members?LinkID=mp105274&role=art&rNo=0).
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