Edinburgh Stereographic Company


Active 1858 – 1860s

Roslin Chapel, c.1858

52 - ESC - Roslin hi

The short-lived E.S.C. exhibited 12 transparent stereoviews in 1858 at the Photographic Society of Scotland Exhibition in Edinburgh and in 1861 was listed at 60A Princes Street, managed by John Moffat. Some two-thirds of the views seen to date, including portraits, Scottish scenery, genre and still life, can be identified as being by Moffat, 

Blindstamps on some views indicate that it also had premises at 337 Broadway, New York. In addition to Scottish views, stereos of the Eastern US including NY and Niagara can be found. Intriguingly, this address is called the Moffat Building! This building was owned by Dr John Moffat and managed by his son William. They had made a fortune from selling medical cure-all pills and elixirs: vegetable life pills and Phoenix Bitters. Dr J Moffat was a fifth generation American who’s family had emigrated from Ulster in the early 1700s, so there is no obvious family link with the Edinburgh photographer.

A series entitled “Edinburgh and its Environs in the Stereoscope” is found with the E.S.C. blindstamp, but also with the Lennie blindstamp. In 1857, Moffat used a strikingly similar “Edinburgh and its Environs” title, but so far there is no conclusive proof that this series is by Moffat.

In Moffat’s biography there is a photo of his second wife’s brother, James Brown Knott, posing with a stereoscopic camera. Knott had US links; he married in Brooklyn in 1854, children were born there in 1855 and 1856. A third child was born in Edinburgh in 1860 and in 1861 he took over the 60 Princes Street studio (the Edinburgh Photographic Rooms) when Moffat moved to larger premises at 103 Princes Street. It is possible that J.B. Knott was the US link and photographer of the US scenes.