Tag Archives: George M. Silsbee

Ormsbee & Silsbee

1847-1851       112 Middle Street, Portland, Maine.

1851-1852       203 Washington Street, Boston, Massachusetts.[1]

Ormsbee & Silsbee (Marcus Ormsbee & George M. Silsbee) were recorded in nine advertisements (one of which they were mentioned in) and ten announcements in six different newspapers, and one journal. The first advertisement appeared on july 6, 1847 in the Portland Weekly Advertiser (Portland, Maine). New. Not only a new association in business Ormsbee & Silsbee, but they are wishing to call attention to a few new specimens of Daguerreotype, which they have within the past ten days executed by a new process–one that is peculiar to themselves, and enables them to take Miniatures with equal certainty, in any weather, early or late, from 7 A. M. to 7 P. M. They are also prepared to take views of cities, villages, houses, to copy Portraits, Bust, &c., &c.–Daguerreotype Portrait Miniatures, equal, and in many instances better than the original.

They will, if desired, go to any part of the city or its vicinity, in case of sickness, old age, or deceased.

Stock.  Operators are supplied with Stock Cameras, (German and American) of different sizes, Plates, Cases, Chemicals, Gold and Gilt Lockets, of every description, delivered at their Rooms, at prices corresponding with Boston or elsewhere.

Instructions.  Instructions given with or without apparatus.  Rooms No. 112 Middle Street.

The first announcement appeared on July 29, 1847 in the Christian Mirror (Portland, Maine). Daguerreotypes.  While Daguerreotypists innumerable in this country are hanging out their signals to the patrons of the New and Instantaneous Art, it cannot be disguised that our citizens are favored with the presence of “Masters” indeed, in this, now, most popular of the arts.

The specimens on exhibition at the rooms of Messrs. Ormsbee & Silsbee, (112 Middle St.) are attracting crowds of visitors—and these gentlemen are deservedly reaping a remunerating harvest, we trust, for their labors.

As yet no miniatures, a la Daguerre, have been executed, in this city so nearly resembling the best pictures on Ivory, as those being scattered far and wide by the above named gentlemen.

No individual in New England, it is hardly probable, is so destitute of pecuniary means as to be unable to spare the money which a Daguerrian likeness costs.

We have often heard expressions of regret, by persons who were mourning departed friends, to the effect that they had neglected to possess themselves of a portrait or miniature of their lost one, while yet the lamp of life burned within him, or her, as the case might be.  The “New Art,” will hereafter preclude any soothing excuse, if we neglect to provide ourselves with transcripts of those whose image, when death shall have remove-them from our sight, would be precious.

We congratulate Messrs. O. & S. on the improvements which have resulted from their inventive efforts, and sincerely which them all the success, their talents, taste and industry so well merit.  Portland.

It is indeed a beautiful art; and who would avail themselves of it to procure images of loved ones, have the opportunity, and can choose between the several artists in the city, after inspecting their pictures.

The second advertisement ran from April 6 to June 1, 1848 in the Christian Mirror (Portland, Maine).  3000 Dollars Reward.  The subscribers propose to pay the foregoing sum to any Daguerreotype operators of this city, who will, with their present skill and process, execute a miniature that shall equal those taken with our process by pupils with only six hours’ practice.  Ormsbee & Silsbee, No. 112 Middle st.

The second announcement appeared on May 23, 1848 in the Portland Weekly Advertiser.  A correspondent of the Transcript, writing from Boston, speaks thus of the Daguerreotype Miniatures of Messrs. Ormsbee & Silsbee, of this city:—

In my walks around town I notice at every turn Daguerreotype specimens, but in none of them do I see anything like an approach to those by Ormsbee & Silsbee.  Theirs are by all odds the most life-like.  There is a distinctness and finish to their specimens which I took for in vain in others.  In their larger portraits which are quite equal to the finest engravings, as well as their miniatures, they certainly are entitled to the palm above all competitors.  There are some specimens in their rooms which all but speak their praise.

The third advertisement ran from June 1, 1858 to February 20, 1851 in the Christian Mirror. Daguerreotypes can be obtained at the rooms of Ormsbee & Silsbee, 112 Middle St. from the size fitting the Smallest Ring, Bracelet or Pin, to that of the plate measuring 55½ square inches.

Also—apparatus and stock of every kind appertaining to the business, furnished at prices Low as Can be purchased elsewhere.

N. B.  Instructions given in their Peculiar mode of operating.

The fourth advertisement (the one they were mentioned in) appeared on July 12, 1848 in the  Portland Daily Advertiser (Portland, Maine).  144.  F. M. Danielson Having taken a Room No. 144 Middle Street, wishing to solicit the favor of the citizens of Portland and vicinity, in sitting for their Daguerreotypes, he having been in the employ of Ormsbee & Silsbee for the past, and Ormsbee the two years preceding years, feels confident that he can satisfy his patrons with a Daguerreotype Miniature, equal if not better than any one who professes the art, and at the very low price of $1.50 put into Velvet lined, and $1.25 in silk lined cases.  May 9.  144 Middle Street.

The fifth advertisement was recorded from July 12 to September 26, 1848 in the Portland Daily Advertiser.  Daguerreotypes can be obtained at the rooms of Ormsbee & Silsbee, 112 Middle St. from the size fitting the Smallest Ring, Bracelet or Pin, to that of the plate measuring 55½ square inches.

Also—apparatus and stock of every kind appertaining to the business, furnished at prices Low as Can be purchased elsewhere.

N. B.  Instructions given in their Peculiar mode of operating.  June 1.

The sixth advertisement ran from July 15 to September 21, 1848 in the Portland Daily Advertiser. Daguerreotypes Can Be Obtained At The Rooms Of Ormsbee & Silsbee, 112 Middle Street, From the size fitting the smallest Ring, Bracelet or Pin, to the plate measuring 55½ square inches.

Also—Apparatus and Stock of every kind appertaining to the business, furnished at prices Low as Can be purchased elsewhere.

N. B.—Instructions given in their peculiar mode of operating.

The third announcement appeared on August 1, 1848 in the Portland Daily Advertiser.  Messrs. Ormsbee & Silsbee have recently been making some further improvements in Daguerreotyping and have just produced some very fine specimens of the art.  Progression is the rule by which these gentlemen are guided and they have been successful in it, having made since their commencement in business in this city some very important improvements, by which they are now enabled to execute as perfect a likeness and as highly finished a picture as can be produced by any other artist in the United States.  Such is the lifelike appearance of their work that it will speak for itself.  Their exhibition room presents several specimens, which they are always pleased to have examined.

The fourth announcement appeared on October 13, 1849 in the Portland Daily Advertiser.  The Cattle Show.  The Fair and Cattle Show of the Cumberland County Agricultural and Horticultural Society, held in this city on Wednesday and Thursday of last week, proved to be the most extensive and finest exhibition  the Institution has ever held.

Specimens of Daguerreotypes, by Ormsbee and Silsbee, were considered as demonstrating an arrival at the highest stages of the art.  Your committee do not hesitate to express their opinion that these cannot be surpassed by any Daguerreotypist in the country—Awarded a diploma.

Some Daguerreotype specimens, by S. L. Carlton, were  likewise thought excellent; but for want of sufficient variety a full comparison cou’d not be instituted between them and those above spoken of.

The fifth announcement appeared on October 16, 1849 in the Portland Weekly Advertiser.  The Cattle Show.  The Fair and Cattle Show of the Cumberland County Agricultural and Horticultural Society held in this city on Wednesday and Thursday of last week, proved to be the most extensive and finest exhibition the Institution has ever held….

Specimens of Daguerreotypes, by Ormsbee and Silsbee, were considered as demonstrating an arrival at the highest stages of the art.  Your committee do not hesitate to express their opinion that these cannot be surpassed by any Daguerreotypist in the country.

Some Daguerreotype specimens, by S. L. Carlton, were likewise thought excellent; but for want of sufficient variety a full comparison could not be instated between them and those above spoken of.

The sixth announcement appeared on October 29, 1859 in the Portland Weekly Advertiser.  (Official.)  Cumberland County Agricultural And Horticultural Society.  Agreeable to appointment the Fair and Cattle Show commenced on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 1850, in Portland.

The Cattle Show was held in the pasture, corner of Green and Portland Streets; the exhibition of Produce, Manufactured Articles, &c., at the City Hall…

Daguerreotypes—It may be proper too, to consider under this head the Daguerreotype pictures which are at the Fair, and are equal in beauty, accuracy, and perfection to those produced in any part of the world.  Though they are paintings by the sun and not by hand of man, which is only mechanically employed to a certain extent in their formation, yet as objects of ornament and not strictly of utility, and indebted for their beauty to the cunning of human skill, their station may be within the province of the Fine Arts.  Of the three different artists who have furnished these, Silsbee and Ormsbee produced their pictures by one method of operation, and Carleton by another; and as to their merit, [that] excellent judge, public opinion, has so decidedly established their equality, that any further distinction by this Society than a diploma to each, would seem invidious and improper.

The seventh advertisement ran from March 1 to December 15, 1851 in The Daguerreian Journal (New York, New York).  Listed in the Daguerreian Artist Register at 203 Washington St., Boston

The eighth advertisement ran from June 11 to 19, 1851 in the Boston Daily Evening Transcript  (Boston, Massachusetts).  203 Washington, Corner Of Bromfield St., Is the number were Ormsbee & Silsbee have opened the most extensive Daguerreotype Rooms in the World.

The subscribers have two Sky-light Rooms, one on the first flight.

They are to be assisted by two of the very best operators, consequently leaving our patrons positive of finding at all times two or more to wait on them, and with-out delay, which so often occurs with one light and one operator.

They also have a Private Reception Room, for Families, while waiting, one for the other.  The public are respectfully invited to call.  Ormsbee & Silsbee

The seventh announcement appeared on July 1, 1851 in The Daguerreian Journal.  Boston Daguerreotypists….Ormsbee & Silsbee had not opened their new, elegant and unique rooms, yet we were kindly invited through their establishment, which is well arranged and is a proud feature of the Daguerreian art in the city of Boston; we shall speak of this, as well as others, more at length in a future number.

The ninth advertisement appeared on August 2, 1851 in the Maine Cultivator and Hallowell Gazette (Hallowell, Maine).  203 Washington, Corner of Bromfield St., Is the number where Ormsbee & Silsbee have opened the most extensive Daguerreotype Rooms in the world.

The subscribers have two Sky-light Rooms, one on the First flight.

They are to be assisted by two of the very best operators, consequently leaving our patrons positive of finding at all times two or more to wait on them, and without delay, which so often occurs with one light and one operator.

They also have a private Reception Room for Families, while waiting, one for the other.

The public are respectfully invited to call.  Boston, June, 1851.  Ormsbee & Silsbee.

The eighth announcement appeared on September 1, 1851 in The Daguerreian Journal.  Olmsbee [sic.] & Silsbee, of Boston have hoisted their banner, and are now under full sail.  This is a new palace, fitted up this summer.

The nineth announcement appeared on September 30, 1851 in the Boston Daily Evening Transcript.  Splendid Daguerreotype Rooms.  Messrs. Ormsbee and Silsbee have recently fitted up at 203 Washington street, corner of Bromfield street, a suite of rooms, that for chasteness and richness, in furniture and pictorial embellishment, is unrivalled in this city; in fact, their entire premises constitute a gallery of art.  The walls are covered with some very fine paintings, and many superb engravings.  But the chief object of attraction is the unrivalled collection of Daguerreotypes, the work of their own hands.  These may be seen iv a great variety of styles, from plain and simple nature, to the most elaborate in tint and coloring.  Some are fair imitation of crayons, while others can hardly be distinguished from miniatures upon ivory, and will bear comparison with any ever taken in the country.

An hour can be spent most delightfully and profitably here on any pleasant day.  A most remarkable picture was taken yesterday by these talented artists, being the family of the late Thomas Gross, of Wellfleet, Cape Cod, consisting of ten sisters, whose united ages number 702 years; the eldest being 85 and the youngest 57.  There are two brothers living, whose ages swell the aggregate to 832.  They met yesterday at the house of Mr. John Bacon, in Alba Court, for the first time, Mrs. Bacon being the youngest sister.  They are of the old Puritan stock, truly a band of sisters, all members of the Methodist Church, to which they attached themselves at a very early period of their lives, and they continue to live steadfast in the faith of their fathers.  The parallel to this we believe cannot be found in the country.

The tenth announcement appeared on November 15, 1851 in The Carpet Bag (Boston, Massachusetts).  Ormsbee & Silsbee.—It is with pleasure we notice the daguerreotype establishment of these gentlemen, corner of Bromfield and Washington streets.  They certainly stand in the front rank of genuine artists; and after examining many of the dull, ordinary daguerreotypes displayed “around town,” it is truly refreshing to look at their brilliant and life-like pictures.  One good portrait is worth fifty poor ones.

Ormsbee & Silsbee are known and are listed in several photographic directories and histories but are included here for the new information in the Maine newspapers.


[1] A Directory Of Massachusetts Photographers 1839-1900.

J. W. C. Morrison 

1846-1847       Address Unknown, Bath, Maine.

1847-1848       Front Street, Bath, Maine.

1853-1855       Address Unknow, Portland. Maine.

1856-1858       130 Middle Street, Portland, Maine.

1858-1859       130, 134 and 136 Middle Street, Portland, Maine.

1860                139 Middle Street Portland, Maine.[1]

1861                26 Market Square, Portland, Maine.

J. W. C. Morrison was recorded in thirteen advertisements (four of which he was mentioned in) and seven announcements in seven different newspapers.  Morrison was in the partnership of Silsbee & Morrison; Smith & Morrison and Albert M. McKenney who worked for/with.  The first announcement appeared on January 2, 1847 in the Maine Cultivator and Hallowell Gazette (Hallowell, Maine).  Smart Day’s Work.—Twenty Daguerreotype likenesses were taken, finished and delivered yesterday by Silsby & Morrison.—Bath Tribune.

The first advertisement ran from April 27, 1847 to May 13, 1848 in The Northern Tribune (Bath, Mine).  J. W. C. Morrison, Daguerrean Gallery, Front Street, Bath, Me.  Four Doors North of the Eliot House.

The second advertisement ran from November 6, 1847 to May 13, 1848 in The Northern Tribune.  City Daguerrian Gallery.  J. W. C. Morrison, At his Old rooms, four doors North of the Eliot House, Front St., continues to furnish pictures in the best style of the art, and unsurpassed by any in the country.

Mr. Morrison would invite the public to call and examine specimens of his work, among which may be found many familiar faces, depicted with the utmost truthfulness and beauty.

Pictures taken of the sick and deceased persons by leaving orders at his rooms.

Views of Buildings and Landscapes taken, without being reversed.  Bath, August 21, 1847.

The third advertisement ran from December 13, 1847 to January 26 1848 in The Northern Tribune.  For Holiday Presents or Gifts Of Affection, Daguerreotype Miniatures are acknowledged by universal custom to be the most proper.

They can be procured at all hours, at Morrison’s City Gallery and set in a few minutes in Frames, Cases, Lockets, &c., a large assortment of which in constantly on hand.”

The second announcement appeared on December 27, 1847 in The Northern Tribune.  Presents.  There is nothing more appropriate for a present than a Daguerreotype Miniature.—They can be had in this city in the highest state of perfection.  For further particulars see Daguerrian advertisements.  Bath Daguerrian can’t be beat.

The fourth advertisement (first he was mentioned in) ran from July 18 to September 26, 1850 in the Eastern Times (Bath, Maine).  Daguerreotype Rooms.  B. F. Upton respectfully announces to the ladies and gentlemen of Bath and vicinity, that he has taken the rooms formerly occupied by Mr. J. W. C. Morrison, where he will be happy to supply any in want with superior Daguerreotype Miniatures.

All are invited to call and examine specimens.

The third announcement appeared on October 25, 1853 in the Portland Weekly Advertiser  (Portland, Maine).  [Cumberland County Agricultural and Horticultural Society.]  The Cattle Show And Fair—Second Day.  Pictures…In the center of the hall was a case of photographic pictures, or daguerreotypes on paper, of familiar views, by Smith & Morrison & Co…

Of daguerreotypes, Carlton and Howe contributed two cases of very life-like and beautiful specimens.

The fourth announcement appeared on November 8, 1843 in the Portland Weekly Advertiser.  Cumberland County Agricultural and Horticultural Society.  Agreeable to notice , the Fair and Show commenced in Portland on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 1853.  The Cattle Show was held in the pasture, corner of Green and Portland Streets.  The Fair of produce and manufactured articles, at Lancaster Hall…

Premiums on Fine Arts, &c…

In regard to Daguerreotypes and Photographs, which perhaps may not be classed so properly under any other department as this.  Your committee particularly recommend notice to be made by you by a Diploma of the fine Crystalotypes (called Daguerreotypes on paper) exhibited by Smith & Morrison of Portland.  As most creditable beginnings of the introduction into our vicinity, so much to be hoped for, of the beautiful development of Photography.

Of the Daguerreotypes exhibited by Geo. W. Howe, as well as those by Mr. S. L. Carlton, they urge honorable mention as sustaining the reputation which the professors of that art have well earned, during many years for those executed here as being among the most beautiful in the world.

The fifth announcement appeared on October 3, 1854 in the Portland Weekly Advertiser.  The Fair…In Lancaster Hall.  Messrs. Smith & Morrison of this city, contribute a great variety of their superior Photographic likenesses and views.  This branch of the art has been pushed to a wonderful degree of perfection and in the above named firm finds exceedingly skilfull followers.

Mr. S. L. Carlton, the well known daguerreotypist, has a fine show of miniatures, &c., among which are likenesses of many of our city worthies—and one of Lady Cusac Rooney.

Mr. Frank Danielson, successor to Stevens, has also a collection of choice specimens in the daguerreotype line, which will not suffer in comparison with any other in the apartment. 

The fifth advertisement ran from September 30, 1856 to November 24, 1857 in the Christian Mirror (Portland, Maine).  Ambrotype, Photographic, And Daguerreotype Materials, Of the best quality, for sale at Morrison’s Photographic & Daguerreotype Rooms 130 Middle Street, Portland, Me.

The sixth advertisement ran from September 30, 1856 to November 17, 1857 in the Christian Mirror.  Pictures Taken On Glass, by an instantaneous process, differing from the Ambrotype, not being subject to blister or stain, susceptible of any degree of coloring, and their durability placed beyond a question, are now executed daily, at Morrison’s Photographic Daguerreotype Rooms 130 Middle Street.

Those desirous of securing likenesses of Infants, will find this process (by experienced hands) never fails, requiring but one or two seconds sitting, and the results the most satisfactory and reliable of anything yet produced by the Photographic art.  J. W. C. Morrison.

The seventh advertisement ran from September 30, 1856 to October 21, 1856 in the Christian Mirror.  Notice Photographic.  Having secured the services of that old campaigner in the Daguerreotype business, and oldest Ambrotypist in the State, A. M. McKenney, Esq., I am now able to give more of my personal attention to the production of first rate Photographs Pictures from Life, or Copies of Daguerreotypes, executed at short notice.  J. W. C. Morrison, 130 Middle Street.

The eighth advertisement ran from September 30 to October 21, 1856 in the Portland Weekly Advertiser.  Pictures Taken On Glass, by an instantaneous process, differing from the Ambrotype, not being subject to blister or stain, susceptible of any degree of coloring, and their durability placed beyond a question, are now executed daily, at Morrison’s Photographic Daguerreotype Rooms 130 Middle Street.

Those desirous of securing likenesses of Infants, will find this process (by experienced hands) never fails, requiring but one or two seconds sitting, and the results the most satisfactory and reliable of anything yet produced by the Photographic art.  J. W. C. Morrison.

The ninth advertisement ran from September 30 to October 21, 1856 in the Portland Weekly Advertiser.  Ambrotype, Photographic, And Daguerreotype Materials, Of the best quality, for sale at Morrison’s Photographic & Daguerreotype Rooms 130 Middle Street, Portland.

The sixth announcement appeared on December 4, 1856 in the Maine Farmer (Augusta, Maine). Maine State AG. Society.  Awards Of Premiums…. Division IV.  Class VI—Miscellaneous And Incidentals…

G. M. Howe, Portland, daguerreotypes,…………Dip.

J. W. C. Morrison, Portland, photographs,………Dip.

R. Adams, Portland, ambrotypes,……………….Dp.

L. Wing[2], Waterville, do.,………………………2.00.

The tenth advertisement (the second one he was mentioned in) appeared on September 28, 1858 in the Christian Mirror. Photographs and Ambrotypes, Stearns & McGlaughlin, (successor to J. W, C. Morrison.) At their chambers, 130, 134 and 136 Middle St., Are producing these pictures in all the various styles of the art and equal to any in the country; from the Life Size Head down to the tinniest Locket picture. Satisfaction Warranted in all cases.

Particular attention paid to taking pictures of Sick Or Deceased Persons, in the city, or at a distance. 

Also we have extra facilities for taking-views of Residences, Churches, Public buildings,  Natural scenery &c. &c. in the city or elsewhere. 

Copying done in the neatest manner.

The public are invited to visit our Rooms and examine our large collection of specimens.

Don’t forget the Nos.  130, 134 and 136 Middle St. Portland, ME.

The eleventh advertisement (third he was mentioned in) appeared on October 1, 1858 in the  Zion’s Advocate (Portland, Maine).  Photographs and Ambrotypes, Stearns & McLaughlin, Successors to J. W. C. Morrison.  At Their Chambers, 130, 134 and 136 Middle Street, Are producing these pictures in all the various Styles of the art and equal to any in the Country, from the life size head down to the tinniest Locket picture.  Satisfaction warranted in all cases.

Particular attention paid to taking pictures of sick or deceased, in the city, or at a distance—also we have extra facilities for taking-views of Residences, Churches, Public Buildings or Natural Scenery in the city or elsewhere.  Copying done in the neatest manner.

The public are invited to visit our Rooms and examine our large collection of specimens.

Don’t forget the No. 130, 134 and 136 Middle Street.

The twelfth advertisement (fourth he was mentioned in appeared on January 18, 1859 in the Portland Weekly Advertiser.  Isaac H. Dupee, Photographer and Ambrotypist, Would Inform the citizens of Portland and vicinity, that he has taken the well known rooms of J. W. C. Morrison, for the purpose of making a permanent business of the art.  having had ten years experience in the business, he flatters himself that he can satisfy all who may want a good Likeness, and permanent pictures of themselves, or friends.

Every kind of work done at these rooms, usually done in our line of business.  We will [do our] best endeavors to please.

Particular attention paid to [ ? ], Also, to making Pictures of Sick or Deceased persons—and all work entrusted to his care will be done in the Best Manner, and at reasonable rates.

I keep constantly on hand a good assortment of Gold Lockets, Cases, Frames, &c. &c.—all of which will be sold very low.

The seventh announcement appeared on June 18, 1861 in the Christian Mirror.  Picture Frames.—From the advertisement of Mr. Morrison, in this paper, it will be seen that he has removed to larger and more commodious rooms, 26 Market Square.  He has a large stock of plain and ornamental, gilt, black-walnut and rose-wood mouldings—together with a complete assortment of Photographic materials.

The thirteenth advertisement appeared on June 18, 1861 in the Christian Mirror.  (Removal!  J. W. C. Morrison, & Co., Manufactures and dealers in Picture Portrait and Looking Glass Frames, have removed to No. 26 Market Square, opposite Doering Hall, where may be found Gilt prepared, and Ornamental Mouldings of every style and finish, Looking Glass Frames, &c.

Also an ample stock of Photographic Goods including every article needed by the Photographic Artist.

J. W. C. Morrison is recorded in Craig’s Daguerreian Registry but the above provides more information, earlier dates and unknown partnerships.


[1] Craig’s Daguerreian Registry.

[2] Probably Simon Wing.