Eden George Co. Ltd

Eden George
born 18 September 1863, Forbes, NSW, Australia
died 2 May 1927 Manly, New South Wales, Australia

Ernest Eden George was born in Forbes, New South Wales, the son of William Rufus George a photographer and his wife Bettina Cresula Holman. He received his primary education at private schools and afterwards went to the Sydney Grammar School. After leaving school he entered the Sydney office of Messrs Goldsbrough, Mort and Co. as a telegraph operator. He subsequently resigned this position and went in for photography, and was employed in large businesses in Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney. (1)

In 1883 he came to New Zealand and was employed in the photographic firm of George and Walton located at 214 Colombo Street, Christchurch, his brother Charles George being head of the firm with Henry John Walton. In 1885 he entered into partnership with W. N. Tuttle and Co., photographers of Auckland, but three months later on 11 August 1885 he sold out. He then appears to have purchased his brother's interest in the business of George and Walton (1) as the Managing Partner. Henry John Walton retired on 3 February 1886 and the name of the business changed to "Eden George" (3).

He married Ada Jane Butler on 31 May 1885 at Auckland, New Zealand. The Lyttelton Times reads:
GEORGE - BUTLER On May 31, 1885 at St Matthews Church, Auckland, by Rev W. Tibbs M.A., Ernest Eden, 4th son of W. R. George Esq of Sydney to Ada, only surviving daughter of late Gilbert Butler Esq of Christchurch.

A daughter, Morea Eden George was born on 17 March and baptised on 18 April 1886 at St Luke's Church, Christchurch. The parents' address was given as Gloucester Street East. This child died on 5 March 1887 and was buried in Linwood Cemetery. Another daughter Irene Eden George was born on 11 August 1889 when the parents were living at New Brighton and baptised at St Faith's Church, New Brighton. A son Stanley Eden George was born at Worcester Street, Christchurch on 18 November 1890 (2), and a second son Leslie Eden George in 1892.
Eden George
Colombo Street, Christchurch

 In 1886 the Lyttelton Times ran a detailed description of the studio:

Photography Eden George's Enterprise
Mr. Eden George’s photographic establishment, in Colombo street, over which occasionally waves the “star-spangled banner,” as a reminder of the clever proprietor’s origin (sic), is well worth visiting, as a member of our staff can testify from personal observation. Just now, at the approach of the “festive season,” everything has been renovated and “brushed-up,” and the whole has been improved and added to, so as to present a most interesting and striking appearance. Accepting an invitation, the visitor spends an hour very pleasantly, even profitably, looking over the establishment, which is certainly much more extensive and full of conveniences than anyone would suppose who merely looked at the building from the street. The entrance hall is a familiar resort, and needs no description, but a novelty was added on Saturday evening in the shape of four transparencies, being photographs on glass, lighted up by gas. The carpeted stairs were for the occasion free to visitors to ascend and look around. About 1300 people availed themselves of the opportunity.The reception-room, where customers give their names and state their requirements, is an exquisitely arranged apartment - so well arranged, indeed, as to have won from his Excellency the Governor a very emphatic expression of approval and surprise. Here on every side skillfully arranged and not the least obtruded, are photographs of every kind. The prominent object just now is a life sized portrait of Mrs. Manifold, whose marriage a few months ago at Papanui was recorded in these columns. The lady is in her bridal dress. This has been quite an object of interest of late; and it is certainly one of the finest specimens of photography ever seen in this Colony. Out of the reception room opens a boudoir or retiring room for ladies, fitted in the most charming style. At another end is a door which opens into Mr. George’s special den which serves him as office and warehouse. Here the visitor stands quite amazed; the ingenuity brought to bear upon the packing room must have [been] phenomenal. In a crib some seven feet by five, are a safe, rows and rows of tightly packed shelves, boxes, bottles, chemicals of every kind – except antimony; and even a couple of chairs are squeezed in. When one gets in one finds it not such a cell after all. (The writer would not suggest a pun – not for worlds.)

From the reception room again, one passes to the studio. Here is a lofty, airy, spacious room, well lighted, and having its light regulated by a most complicated system of blinds, and full of instruments and accessories. Here one may be taken with all sorts of surroundings. One may sit on a plain chair, or lean against a fence; stand under foliage or in ancestral halls. One may assume any position – heroic, pathetic, or imposing, in front of that masked battery with its somber shroud – a cross between a ghoul and a sphinx. This is the instrument for taking large-size pictures, and it is of interest as having cost 150 guineas, and being the last production of the famous mechanician [John Henry] Dallmeyer before his death.

From this abode of light one passes into a gallery where the pictures are prepared; further on along a queer passage, one gets into a darkened room, the wooden wall of which at one end looks out into the open. Here, seated before gaps in the wall, working intently, are two operators “touching up” portraits. The picture is fixed into the gap between the operator and the light, and the operator touches them up with his fine stylus. Ah, how much some of us owe to the toucher-up. “Long live the “toucher up!” Bless him.

Finally, one descends by an interminable stairway to the “bowels of the earth.” Here, in a
cellar, are collected all the negatives ever taken by Mr. George, or the old firm of George and Walton, ready at a moment’s notice if required, no matter how many years may have passed away.

Re-ascending, one bids Mr. George good bye with a sense of having seen something “out of the common.” Those who are curious about the photographic art could not do better than visit the establishment and make the same tour of it as did your representative.

Lyttelton Times, 20 December 1886 page 3.


In connection with Mr Eden George's special photographic enterprise, the issue of jubilee cabinet portraits for a limited period at prices that are practically nominal, we have had sent to us one of the mounts used, with a request that our opinion maybe given as to its quality. It seems that an ill-natured report has been busily circulated, to the effect that work and mounts would be alike inferior. The specimen before us is bevelled and giltedged, of heavy substance, and so far as our knowledge goes is equal in quality to any that are made. More than this, the mount has been, specially printed in vermillion and gold, the design on the back being tastefully executed in the Lyttelton Times Company's lithographic department. People who have invested - or who contemplate investing - in these "Jubilee Cabinets" may rest perfectly assured that they will get liberal value for their money.
Star, Issue 5813, 30 December 1886, Page 3


At an exhibition in 1887 he received a First Class Certificate in Photography for "enlarged photograph portraits by the Bromide process." Later that year he announced his candidacy for the Christchurch South Electorate. He was aged about 24 years. At the conclusion of an address one night someone handed him up a cardboard box, which he opened and found inside a child's feeding bottle, which earned a roar of laughter. He said his youth was taken as a crime, but he would go to the poll even though his opponent were Sir Julius Vogel or Methuselah. At the elections held in October 1887 he received 113 votes, the winning candidate received 767 votes.
Press, Volume XLIV, Issue 6827, 11 August 1887, Page 3.
Ashburton - Mr Eden George arrived in Ashburton this morning with his photographic plant and a numerous train of assistants, and was engaged all the afternoon making a display of his artistic photography in the Orange Hall to be ready for the conversazione on Friday night.

He has nearly 400 square feet of exhibits, including a lot intended for the Melbourne Exhibition, whither he has already dispatched a show case weighing a ton and a half. He is also fitting up his Studio at Taylor's gallery, opposite the Royal hotel, in Moore street, and will at once have all preparations completed for doing an extensive business.

Tickets entitling holders to be photographed at reduced rates can be obtained from Mr Henry Zander, merchant, East street, till Saturday night, after which full price will be charged.
Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 1848, 23 May 1888, Page 2

We need scarcely remind our readers of Mr Eden George's conversazione and photograph and picture exhibition in the Orange Hall this evening. Mr George has been at very great trouble to set off his artistic and photographic handiwork to the best advantage, and many of the pictures are those of well known celebrities of Canterbury and elsewhere. Altogether there are several thousand of photos and pictures admirably arranged throughout the hall an also in show cases. The different styles of photography are also exhibited to advantage, the object of the exhibition and conversazione is a popular one, viz., relief of distress, and the exhibition is well worthy of patronage from an artistic point of view.
Ashburton Guardian, Volume VII, Issue 1850, 25 May 1888, Page 2

In July 1888 it was reported that "at a recent meeting of the Christchurch Protection League it was announced that Mr Eden George had made arrangements to commence the manufacture of "rapid dry plates" for photographic purposes at once. This manufacture is the outcome of the protection given to photographic goods in the new tariff, and it is stated will entail an outlay of between £4000 and £5000."

A Photographic Discovery. - We are glad to notice that Mr Eden George has at last gained some tangible advantage from his long course of experiments in photographic chemistry. That he has been experimenting most assiduously, is, we believe, pretty generally known. Like many others he has been seeking for the photographic philosopher's stone - that is to say, he has been endeavouring to discover some process whereby natural colours may be produced. In this - again like many others - he has been unsuccessful. It is, however, a well-known fact that very many important scientific discoveries have fairly been stumbled upon, and Mr Eden George has accidentally found a new process, whereby he undertakes to produce all the known varieties of photographs, perfectly finished, and absolutely permanent, at about one-fourth of the cost obtaining hitherto. Such a discovery ought to bring him a superabundance of work, as we have no doubt it will do. It may be added that the new process has been subjected to rigorous test, in order to ensure the important quality of permanence.
The Star, Issue 6380, 27 October 1888, Page 3

On 16 January 1889 the Evening Post reported that Mr. Eden George, "the well-known photographer," on going to business that morning had found that his studio had been entered during the night, and the apparatus damaged so as to be useless. The cameras all but one were cut, and the bottoms of the chairs ripped open, backgrounds spoiled, glass negatives smashed, and photos torn up. The perpetrators were supposed to have got in at the back window, and wedged the front door to prevent it being opened while they were inside. Mr. George estimated his loss at £500.
In March 1889 he was unsuccessful sued for wrongful dismissal by a former employee Karl Andrew Gerstenkorn who later was a photographer in Invercargill. In May that year he announced himself a candidate of the Christchurch North electorate but was not successful. During the campaign its was stated that "The young man certainly turns out a very good article in the photographic line at his Colombo street studio, but beyond that, I do not think that he possesses any special talent which could warrant him in believing that nature ever intended him for a statesman." Following the election he brought an action in the Supreme Court for £200 against Meers, another photographer who printed a cartoon representing George in a dissolute appearance. Meers had used a negative depicting Eden George obtained from a former employee of the Eden George studio. Meers was told by the Judge to return the negative and not print any more copies.
In June 1890 Eden George formed his business into a limited liability company, with a capital of £5000. Following on from the previous year when his studio was broken into and damaged, Eden George was charged with this crime himself and implicating rival photographers, Manning and Meers. After a two day trail the case was dismissed due to insufficient of evidence. George was later sued for £25 by his former employee Karl Gerstenkorn for defamation of character by stating that the Police knew it was Gerstenkorn who had damaged the studio.
In the General Election of 1890 Eden George stood for the Christchurch seat but was the lowest scoring of the six candidates with William Pember Reeves taking the seat.

Eden George Co. Ltd
1891- 1893

A Good Dividend. — At a meeting of directors of the Eden George Company Limited, held yesterday, an interim dividend at the rate of 15 per cent per annum was declared, and is payable from Monday next.
The Star, Issue 7058, 9 January 1891, Page 3

Photographic - The Eden George Company have now on view at their studio, in Colombo street, a photograph of the delegates to the second conference of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants of New Zealand. The portraits, grouping and general finish are excellent, and reflect great credit on the photographers.
The Star, Issue 7159, 9 May 1891, Page 3

Eden George Photographing Company. — The first annual meeting of the shareholders of the Eden George Photographing Company was held in the studio yesterday afternoon, Mr George, Managing Director, in the chair. The report showed that the receipts had been £3845 6s 2d and the expenditure £2919 7s 8d, leaving a balance of £925 18s 6d, of which £656 5s had been paid in dividends at the rate of 15 per cent, and the Directors recommended a further payment of 5 per cent, or a total of 20 per cent for the year, the balance, £50 18s 6d to be carried forward. The accounts had been audited and found correct by Messrs F. H. Barns and D. C. M'Donald. The report and balance-sheet were adopted, and the retiring Directors re-elected, the election of Auditors being left to the Directors.
The Star, Issue 7240, 12 August 1891, Page 3

 reverse inscription - 
"Photo taken December 13th 1892
Died December 27th 1892"
A cabinet card by Eden George Co. Ltd

He was an Alderman of Christchurch Municipal Council and later the Mayor of Christchurch for one term from 1893 to 1894. He sold his business to Wrigglesworth and Binns in February 1893.

Business Change.— Mr Eden George has completed the sale of his photographic businesses at Christchurch and Dunedin to Messrs Wrigglesworth and Binns, of Wellington, and intends retiring from business.
Star, Issue 4563, 7 February 1893, Page 3

The Eden George Company, Limited, are now producing far superior Opals than hitherto. Mr Binns, who has just arrived from Wellington, will take direct charge of the Studio and Workrooms, so that the delay which, has occurred in the completion of orders will shortly disappear, and only Cabinets and Opals showing most superior workmanship will be allowed to leave the Studio.

The Star, Issue 4583, 3 March 1893, Page 3

Mr. Eden George has become the lessee of the Tuam street Theatre in Christchurch, and intends to make an effort to popularise the house by inducing companies to play in it at million prices.
Otago Witness, Issue 1851, 29 June 1893, Page 37

The Christchurch Unemployed
Christchurch, October 16.
A meeting of the unemployed, convened by the mayor, was held in the Tuam street Hall at 11 this morning, when about 100 attended. The mayor adjourned the meeting till the afternoon, as he stated the Hon W. P. Reeves was keeping a number of men waiting at the Public Works Office for a reply re work, so as to frustrate the mayor's meeting.

This afternoon about 300 men attended a meeting of the unemployed called by the mayor (Mr. Eden George), who made a lengthy speech attacking the Minister for Labour and the Lyttelton Times. A resolution was earned demanding work before Mr. Reeves left Christchurch for every man who wanted it. Mr. George spoke of his candidature for Parliament, and the meeting passed him a vote of thanks for the assistance he had rendered the unemployed. Groans were given for the Lyttelton Times and Minister for Labour, and cheers for the Press.

A deputation from the unemployed waited on the Hon. Mr. Reeves this morning. The Minister said arrangements had been made to send 20 men some time this week to Catlins, and he hoped the weather would be warm enough next week to permit of sending a few men to Mount Cook road. In making a selection preference would be given to married men and those who had not previously had Government employment.
Otago Witness, Issue 2069, 19 October 1893, Page 17.

The members of the Atalanta and Cash Amateur Bicycle Clubs held their opening run on 19th inst. to New Brighton, where they were the guests of the mayoress, Mrs. Eden George, at afternoon tea. There was a good muster of riders, including a number of ladies and 20 members of the Star Wheel Club, mounted on Star bicycles.
Otago Witness, Issue 2070, 26 October 1893, Page 33

Mr Eden George is a son of Mr W. R. George of Sydney, and grandson of the late Captain Samuel George, of the Gloucester Yeomanry, who fell in the Crimean war. Mr George was born at Forbes, New South Wales, in 1863, received his primary education at private schools and afterwards went to the Sydney Grammar school. After leaving school he entered the Sydney office of Messrs Goldsbrough, Mort and Co. as telegraph operator. He subsequently resigned this position and went in for photography, and was employed in large businesses in Adelaide, Melbourne, and Sydney.

In 1883 he came to New Zealand and was employed in the well-known firm of George and Walton, of Christchurch, his brother being head of the firm. In 1885 he entered into partnership with W. N. Tuttle and Co., the well known photographers of Auckland, but three months afterwards he sold out and purchased the business of George and Walton.

In January he disposed of this business to Messrs Wrigglesworth and Binns, of Wellington. Mr George entered the political arena in 1887, when he unsuccessfully contested the Christchurch South seat at the general election. He was also a candidate at the by-election for Christchurch North when Sir Julius Vogel resigned, at the general election in 1890, and the by-election in 1891, rendered necessary by the resignation of Mr W. B. Perceval.
In 1892 Mr George defeated two other candidates for the Mayoralty of Christchurch.
Press, Volume L, Issue 8646, 22 November 1893, Page 3

In the General Election of 1893 Eden George was one of ten candidates nominated for the Christchurch Electorate were he stood as an Independent. With 1647 votes he received the lowest number of votes.

 New Zealand Graphic 26 August 1893, p128

In 1906 it was reported that - "The weight of the Christchurch Mayoral chain has now reached 3lbs. It is composed entirely of solid gold shields presented by each of the Mayors on leaving office with the exception of Mr. Eden George. The portrait of that gentleman is also missing from the collection of pictures of the Mayors hung in the Mayor's room."
Soon after his defeat in 1893 he moved to Auckland and announced his intention of standing for the Waitemata seat in Parliament but later withdrew from the contest. The versatile Mr. Eden George has also gone northward, ostensibly to promote his candidature for Waitemata, but nothing has been heard of his movements or of his having addressed the electors. Possibly the electors are more interested in the virtues of his new patent lamp than in any light he is likely to throw on the political situation.

Otago Witness, Issue 2094, 12 April 1894, Page 44

He returned to Sydney about 1895 and set up the Eden Studio in George Street. He was a member of the NSW Legislative Assembly 1901-1907 representing Sydney - Belmore and later Ashburnham.

above - a "Paris Panel" by the Eden Studio, Melbourne and Sydney.

He became a well-known horseowner. In 1906 during a debate on the Gaming and Betting Bill in the N.S.W. Legislative Assembly Eden George stated that he had lost £13,000 in racing in four years. Many of his fellow members seemed to think he was a lucky man to be in a position to lose such a sum.

He lived in Manly from about 1907 onwards where he had a substantial house and grounds on West Esplanade, which was sold in 1916 as the Eden George Estate, ‘The Dress Circle of Manly’. After his political defeat he travelled extensively in Europe and the United States of America.
In 1913 he was the Liberal candidate for Phillip in the General Election in New South Wales, but was unsuccessful, polling only 941 votes, against 4685 cast for the successful Labour candidate, Mr. R. D. Meagher, a well-known Sydney solicitor.

He died on 2 May 1927 at Manly, New South Wales, Australia.

Mr Eden George
The death of Mr. Eden George, a former Mayor of Christchurch, is announced in Sydney newspapers to hand last week. Mr. George, who was a photographer, was Mayor in 1898 and as he was under thirty years of age at the time, he was the youngest occupant of the Mayoral chair. In some of his municipal ideas Mr. George was many years ahead of his time, as for instance, in his advocacy of asphalt streets. After taking up his residence in Sydney, Mr. George sat for a while in the New South Wales Assembly, and also became interested in horse racing as an owner. Recently he fought a libel action against “Truth,” in which be appeared as his own advocate.
from the Christchurch Press 23 May 1927 page 8.

Obituaries also appeared in the Bulletin, 12 May 1927; and Labor Daily, 19 Mar 1927.

Photographs by Eden George


above cdv courtesy of The Laurence Eagle Collection
above cdv courtesy of The Laurence Eagle Collection


Mrs T. G. Russell

Photographs by Eden George 
Christchurch and Dunedin

reverse inscribed "Tom George?"



 this cabinet card courtesy of The Laurence Eagle Collection

this cabinet card courtesy of The Laurence Eagle Collection

this cabinet card courtesy of The Laurence Eagle Collection

Photographs by Eden George Co. Ltd
Dunedin and Christchurch



this photograph courtesy of The Laurence Eagle Collection



this cabinet card courtesy of The Laurence Eagle Collection

this cabinet card courtesy of The Laurence Eagle Collection

"Mr Brighting & Edna"


"Mrs Lee Oram"

"Sarah Brighting"

reverse inscribed "Tom Ladd Friend Uncle Willies"
Thomas Ladd

Courtesy of  Laurence Eagle
Courtesy of Laurence Eagle
Courtesy of Laurence Eagle
Courtesy of Laurence Eagle
 Courtesy of Laurence Eagle

Photos by Eden George from Clara Harris' Album

Eden Society Studios
Melbourne and Sydney

above - photograph by Eden Studios, 727 George Street, Sydney

Frances Alicia Robinson nee Hamilton
by Eden George
[photograph contributed]

1. Auckland City Libraries
(1) Press, Volume L, Issue 8646, 22 November 1893, Page 3
(2) Press, Volume XLVIL, Issue 7716, 22 November 1890, Page 4
(3) Star , Issue 5538, 9 February 1886, Page 2


Kiwisteven said...

What a fascinating person Eden George was! Evidently a very colourful character who made sure he always put himself forward for election to high public positions.

Anonymous said...

Finally I found biographical information on Eden George! He briefly came to the United States in 1923 and built a sweet, eclectic cottage in the town of La Jolla, California. It became known as the "Lampshade House". It has octagonal roofs and is just yards away from the Pacific Ocean. It has survived mostly intact and is a landmark known to generations of La Jollans. Did anyone know he was a 'builder'??

Vonn Marie May vmmay@mac.com

Early Canterbury Photography said...

seems unlikely this is the same person.

Anonymous said...

What a colourful guy. You say: "At the conclusion of an address one night someone handed him up a cardboard box, which he opened and found inside a child's feeding bottle, which earned a roar of laughter."

I take it you found this on PapersPast. I've tried to find the article, but have failed. Could you possibly help?

Early Canterbury Photography said...

Hello -the reference to the child's feeding bottle comes from the Press, Volume XLIV, Issue 6827, 11 August 1887, Page 3.

Anonymous said...

Photo 69 is Clara Harris, later Baker and her sister Annie Harriet.
There is a photo the same in the family. And there were some taken by Sorrell of the Harris girls, also some of Clara Harris by herself.
I dont know if you wanted to know this but it seems so sad that there are so many photos and no one knows who they were.
My Aunt has a whole album like that :(

Early Canterbury Photography said...

Hello, before your aunt had the album I think Jack Baker of Winchester had it, he allowed me to copy them a few years before he he died. Most of the people in the album are also my relatives. I'm very pleased the album has survived.

Anonymous said...

I did wonder who had given the album to be copied, good to know it was my Grandfather Jack Baker, I somehow thought it was another woman who had tried to identify them at some stage.
What is your connection, are you related to the Gudsell's or Harris's as there seem to be a lot of them named here.
Thank you Vicki Baker
you can contact me if you want at turtle63 at gmail.com

Unknown said...

hi there I'm In Wagga Wagga NSW at Olden Daze On Hammond avenue I've found alot of Eden Studios pictures of a young couple wedding photos and schook photos There were no names. They looks from the 1920's or so.So sad to see them in the shop. They must belong to someone. I'm at cathunwin123@gmail.com or unwin41@bigpond.com if anyone want s to look further.I am happy to buy them and send them on... CATH

Corinnefs said...

I'm trying to date a photo I have that was taken at Eden Society Studios. As far as I know the people in the photo never lived in Sydney but they did live in Melbourne (and later Western Australia). Your wonderful article has a heading "Australia
Eden Society Studios Melbourne and Sydney" which is the first time I've read that he had a studio in Melbourne. Do you know what dates Eden might have had a studio in Melbourne?
Any assistance greatly appreciated.

Unknown said...

Hi Early Canterbury Photography and Corinne,
Eden Photo Studios did have a studio in Melbourne, I have been researching my family history and Ernest Eden George is a Ancestor of my fathers. He had a shop in the "Block Arcade" Melbourne with the earliest ad I can find dating July 29 1896. On the 2nd of January 1902 the store had moved to Swanston Street advertising that "When in the Block-arcade we did an enormous business, until at last the premises became too small, so that we built our present palatial premises in Swanston-street, which are far and away superior to anything of their kind in Melbourne."

Around 1907 J.Yeoman (Yeoman and Co) became proprietor of "Eden Photo Studio" and in 1910 was being advertised as "Yeoman's Eden Studio's". After 1910 I can not come across any more adverts so am unsure if the Studio continued for much longer. I have also found a photo with evidence of Eden studios in the Block Arcade. I hope the dates help you to date your photo Corinne, I have been doing a lot of searching to discover his Melbourne studios as that is where I am from and absolutely love visiting the Block Arcade.

Tikva said...

Hi, I'm trying to date old family photographs taken by "EdenGeorge Co Ltd Dunedin" (not Christchurch), and wanted to ask you if you would know what year he started his studio in Dunedin, and what year he sold it to Wrigglesworth & Binns? Many thanks for any assistance, and great information here!

Early Canterbury Photography said...

if you do some research on the "Papers Past" website you should be able to find those dates.