British photographic history

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Olley’s Patent Micro-Reflecting Process

The Norfolk Chronicle of Saturday 14 November 1857 carried the headline:- A New Discovery in Photography . “The world is indebted to Mr. W. Olley, of London, for the greatest discovery which has yet been made in photography. Mr. Olley calls it the “Patent Micro-Photographic Reflecting Process.” It consists in fixing an impression of any object placed under the microscope glass, which is afterwards transferred to paper.” This article draws the attention of its readers to a new monthly publication that was to be illustrated with photographs “exhibited as large as a crown piece”  taken using the patented process. 

Mr Olley was William Henry Olley, a Wine Merchant of 2, Brabant Court, Philpot Lane, London. The London Gazette of 25th January 1860 indicates that Olley had patented his process on 6th November 1856.

According to the Museum of Science website http://www.mhs.ox.ac.uk/collections/imu-search-page/narratives/?irn... the photographs were printed by two Great Yarmouth photographers (identified by blind stamps on the prints), Henry Harmer, a solicitor who became photographer, and William Thornton Fisher, a master mariner, turned optician who also was a photographer. The subscribers listed in the publication included many citizens of Great Yarmouth including a Mr Olley and Henry R Harmer Esq. 

William Henry Olley was born in Middlesex in 1814 the son of Thomas Olley who was born in Lowestoft, Suffolk (not far from Great Yarmouth) in 1777.  WH Olley died at 138 Mildmay Road, Stoke Newington on the 13th May 1890.

Does any member of the forum have a copy of Olley’s patent that they would be willing to share a scan of? Also it is assumed that Olley had relatives in Great Yarmouth but does anybody know if Olley had any other connections with Great Yarmouth? 

Olley’s publication is available on Google Books. 

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=pgE7DX_vbJMC&printsec=front...

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Comment by Paul Godfrey on July 21, 2020 at 17:12

Thank you for all the information Michael.  I will contact the IPO. 

It appears that Olley’s publication was first published in Great Yarmouth on the 20th November 1859 by Henry Harmer before the W Kent of London version came out. Frederick Danby Palmer’s “Yarmouth Notes” that were published in the Norwich Mercury refer to it:-  20th November 1859:- Attention was directed to the “Wonders of the Microscope, published by Mr. Harmer, the photographist of Great Yarmouth.”

Comment by Michael Pritchard on July 21, 2020 at 8:52

Hi, Paul. Olley had two patents in 1856: a provisional patent 896 (15 April 1856) and no. 2614 (6 November 1856). I am attaching copies of the patent abridgments here (apologies for the quality from my phone) but you can order the full specs from the IPO in Cardiff https://www.gov.uk/get-copies-of-intellectual-property-documents/re... I don't believe that they are available online. 

There is also a brief reference in the RPS Journal https://archive.rps.org/archive/volume-3/720106-volume-3-page-128?q... 

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Comment by Michael Pritchard on July 20, 2020 at 17:41

Hi, Paul. Olley had two patents in 1856: a provisional patent 896 (15 April 1856) and no. 2614 (6 November 1856). I am attaching copies of the patent abridgments here (apologies for the quality from my phone) but you can order the full specs from the IPO in Cardiff https://www.gov.uk/get-copies-of-intellectual-property-documents/re... I don't believe that they are available online. 

There is also a brief reference in the RPS Journal https://archive.rps.org/archive/volume-3/720106-volume-3-page-128?q... 

20200720_172837_resized.jpg

20200720_172900_resized.jpg

20200720_172932_resized.jpg

20200720_173003_resized.jpg

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