• Antique B&W Photograph Richard A. Lewis 152 Chatham St, N.Y. New York
  • In nice shape
  • Boys name is Henry Herbert Denton

  • Lewis, Richard A.
    (1820-1891) One of three sons of William Lewis, the noted early manufacturer of photographic apparatus. The other sons were William H. and Henry J., both of whom were associated with R.A. Lewis for many years.
    Lewis learned the daguerreotype process from O.C. Benjamin at some undetermined time. Lewis opened a daguerreian studio in Chatham Square (142 Chatham Street), New York City reportedly as early as 1839. Lewis himself later claimed the studio was established that year. The address was also listed as headquarters for W. and W.H. Lewis, manufacturers of daguerreian equipment.
    An unrecorded source noted a firm of of Lewis and Holt (Possibly G.W.A. Holt), daguerreians, c. 1841. More likely, this firm existed in the early 1850's.
    From 1852 to 1860, Lewis was listed as a daguerreian at 142 Chatham Street, New York City. He advertised as the "Spread Eagle Daguerreian Gallery", and claimed it was established in 1839. The location was opposite the National Theater. He lived at 18 Mott Street.
    From 1851 to 1853 another Lewis family member, John, apparently worked at the Chatham Street gallery. His relationship to the other Lewis family members is currently unknown.
    At an unknown time, R.A. Lewis opened a branch gallery at the northwest corner of Bowery and Broome Streets. His chief operator was Percival (probably E. Percival, listed in New York City 1857-1859; although for the chronology of the gallery, these dates may not reflect the time Percival worked for Lewis). The chronology of this gallery is interesting: it was first operated by Percival, and later by a man named Clark. Julius Brill bought the gallery c. 1853, and left it in charge of C. Ehrmann, and sold it afterward to Henry Vanselow. It then went to a Mrs. Weston. She is identified by one source as Julia Weston, but more likely is Mary A. Weston. She later sold the gallery to Jeremiah Gurney, who placed it in the hands of his son Benjamin. The Gurneys sold it to a man named White, who later went to Richmond, Va. In the late 1860's the gallery changed hands again.
    This chronology only partially fits with documented records, and requires additional study. Percival may well have worked for Lewis, and not been listed in the city directory. On his own in 1859-1860, he was listed at 228 Bowery. If we assume that the chronology is "generally" accurate, the Lewis address must have been 156 Bowery. Peter G. Clark was listed at that address from 1854 to 1856; Julius Brill added that address as a second gallery in 1855-1856; and Henry Vanselow listed it as his gallery address from 1856 to 1859. Mary Weston, who was related to daguerreian Robert Weston, was listed from 1858 to 1860 with her gallery at 142-1/2 Bowery. There was never a Julia Weston listed as a daguerreian in the New York City directories.
    In 1854, Lewis advertised there was another gallery not far from his where the operator represented himself as R.A. Lewis, and warned customers about patronizing this competitor.
    From 1857 to 1858, he lived at 55 Cumberland, Brooklyn. In 1858-1859, he advertised Lewis and Mott's positive and negative collodions. In 1860, he moved his gallery to 152 Chatham Street, and advertised Lewis and Holt's (probably G.W.A.) collodion.
    In 1863, he was listed as a manufacturer of collodion, and had 30 to 40 employes; he also advertised as continuing as a photographer at 152 Chatham Street. He died September 3, 1891 at his home, 126 Cumberland Street, Brooklyn, leaving a stock of more than 400,000 negatives.
    Notes: R.A. Lewis was also the originator of the glass corners for the various wet plate holders.
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