MEERS, Robert Walter

also Meers & Co.

Robert Walter Meers
212 Colombo Street, Christchurch

Robert Walter Meers (1859 - c.1929 ) was born in Dalston, Middlesex the son of William Denne Meers, a warehouseman and Ann Meers nee Daniels. His birth was registered at Shoreditch in 1859. He had an older brother William Frederick Meers born about 1857 and a sister Rosina. In 1861 the family lived at 23 Bedford Terrace, Bethnal Green in Middlesex. They came to New Zealand about 1868 settling in Dunedin before arriving in Christchurch in 1872. His father set up as a draper at the corner of Colombo and Cashel Street on the site that later became Ballantynes.

R. W. Meers and Co. opened their Colombo Street Studio on 20 September 1886, next door to Eden George (recently renamed from George and Walton).

R. W. Meers & Co., Photographic Artists, 212 Colombo Street. Cabinet Photos from 15s doz. - Star , Issue 5733, 25 September 1886, Page 2

Some little time ago there was much controversy as to the use of antimony in photography, experts declaring that any preparation of the metal would be detrimental to the production of a good picture. Recently Messrs R. W. Meers and Co., of Colombo street, have been making experiments with antimony, using a solution of the metal in the process technically known as "building up" the negatives. The result is a very opaque reddish coloured deposit on the glass, where the high lights are subsequently developed in the positives and clearly defined spaces where the shadows are developed. While scarcely suitable for portraits, the antimony process would be very useful in photographing line maps and steel engravings; as also in photo-lithography. - Star , Issue 5837, 28 January 1887, Page 3

Valedictory. — Yesterday afternoon the employees of Hobday's Co-operative Company presented Mr H. S. E. Hobday, who is about to visit England, with a token of esteem and respect. The souvenir was an ivory-type portrait of himself from a photograph by Messrs Meers and Co. The picture was enclosed in a gold frame, bearing a suitable inscription. Mr V. Smith, who made the presentation, made a short speech, wishing Mr Hobday a pleasant voyage. Mr Hobday, in reply, thanked the employees for their present, and expressed his appreciation of their kind wishes. - The Star, Issue 6010, 19 August 1887, Page 3

WANTED for Photographic Business, respectable Youth as Apprentice. Apply. Meers and Co., 212, Colombo street. - Star , Issue 6022, 2 September 1887, Page 2

WANTED for Photographic Business, one or two respectable youths as apprentices. Apply. Meers and Co. - Star , Issue 6059, 15 October 1887, Page 2

Business Enterprise. — In few branches of business is competition so keen just now as in photography, and the proprietors of photographic establishments seem fully to recognise this. The latest firm which has endeavoured to meet the times is that of Messrs R. W. Meers and Co., Colombo street. These gentlemen have largely increased their premises by the erection of a brick addition at the rear. The upper floor of the new portion forms a capacious operating room, 40ft by 30ft, well lighted with twenty square feet of glass in the roof and a proportionately large amount of side windows to the North and South. These are all fitted with blinds, screens, &c, whilst the room is well furnished with all the picturesque "properties" necessary as accessories; in fact, here all the facilities possible are found for photographing large groups, even up to the number of sixty persons.On the ground floor is a room 20ft by 12ft, for washing prints, and a double darkroom, for the development of large photos. Here are two ever-flowing artesian wells and a tank for rain water, which is the best for mixing chemicals, &c. The old operating room is now converted into a show room, where numerous specimens of the firm's work can be inspected. Specially noteworthy among these are the stereoscopic slides of New Zealand scenery, for which there should be a large demand from visitors to Christchurch at this holiday time. - Star , Issue 6388, 6 November 1888, Page 3

Photography. — The special advantages that a large and well lighted room gives a photographic artist have just been conclusively shown in a group portrait of the Hicks-Sawyer Coloured Minstrels, taken by Mr E. W. Meers, at his newly erected studio. The several members of the Company, to the number of twenty-two, are photographed in each case with all the definiteness of a single portrait; indeed, just as if each had been separately focused. Copies of this remarkably good work will be on view in a few days. - The Star, Issue 6424, 19 December 1888, Page 3

The Angling Competition. — As a memento of the recent angling competition Messrs R. W. Meers and Co., of Colombo street, have taken a photograph of the trout captured by the competitors during the first trial of the kind held in Canterbury. A difficult subject has been treated well, and the photograph would be a capital means of giving anglers in the Old Country an idea of the sport obtainable in Canterbury waters. The Star, Issue 6426, 21 December 1888, Page 3

Star , Issue 6473, 16 February 1889, Page 2

Supreme Court. — At the civil sittings of the Supreme Court to-day the only case tried was George v. Meers, in which plaintiff sued for £2OO damages for the publication of an election squib, in the form of a photograph, entitled "Dignity and It," as also for an injunction restricting the defendant from issuing any further copies of the photograph. His Honor refused to give damages, but ordered defendant to give up the negative and copies of the photograph. - Star , Issue 6615, 5 August 1889, Page 3

The Christchurch Electoral Roll of 1890 shows the family living at 31 Armagh Street, Christchurch. William Deene Meers is a clothier, his sons William Frederick a draper and Robert Walter a photographer. In 1892 Robert Meers as declared bankrupt.

Robert married on 28 March 1900 at St Mary's Church, Addington to Maud Margaret Hardington the daughter of James Hardington, a maltster and Jane Hardington nee Ruddick. His occupation was then shown as a draper. A daughter Roberta Ann Meers was born in 1902 and a son Henry James Meers in 1903.
Star , Issue 8381, 29 July 1905, Page 5

In May 1906, Robert Meers attended a meeting held by the Bay of Plenty Chamber of Commerce of persons interested in having Bay of Plenty exhibit at the New Zealand Exhibition. - Bay Of Plenty Times, Volume XXXIV, Issue 4904, 28 May 1906, Page 2.

He attended a meetings for members of the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce during the period July 1906 - July 1908.

Mr Meers said he would be in Christchurch the following month and would be pleased to do anything in his power on behalf of the Bay of Plenty Exhibits Committee. - Bay of Plenty Times, Volume XXXV, Issue 4949, 10 September 1906, Page 2. (the idea of a Bay of Plenty exhibit as later abandoned)

Wanted, Good Plain Cook. Apply in evening, Meers' Private Hotel, Wharf Street, Tauranga. - Bay Of Plenty Times, Volume XXXV, Issue 5031, 25 March 1907, Page 3

In November 1907 his sister in law, Lilly Jane Hardingham married Ernest Chadban in Tauranga. The bride was given away by Robert Meers, and guest were later entertained at his residence. - Bay Of Plenty Times, Volume XXXVI, Issue 5137, 27 November 1907, Page 2

Proprietor of the Belle Vue or Bellevue boardinghouse - Bay of Plenty Times, 9 October 1908

In 1909 The New Zealand Loan & Mercantile Agency Co. Ltd and Brown Bros. were instructed by Mr Meers to sell the whole of his household furniture and effects at his residence in Devonport Road. - Bay of Plenty Times, Volume XXVII, Issue 5331, 12 March 1909, Page 3.

Also advertised for auction on the same day was "one hand and one stand quarter plate camera, in good order" however it is not clear if this was part of Meers' property that was sold.- Bay of Plenty Times, Volume XXXVII, Issue 5333, 17 March 1909, Page 3

For sale at the auction was a "quantity of photographic goods" - Bay Of Plenty Times, Volume XXVII, Issue 5334, 19 March 1909, Page 3

His mother, Ann Meers died aged 68 at her son-in-law's, (Alfred Henry Hathaway) house in North Street, Timaru on 21 May 1902. - She was buried in row 2 plot 189 in the Timaru Cemetery. His father died about October 1909 aged 73 years and was buried in the same plot in the Timaru Cemetery.The Star, Issue 7411, 24 May 1902, Page 5 and - Timaru Cemetery On-line database.

At the present time one of the most noticeable improvements in the business area of the town is under way in Messrs Norris and Bell's buildings, where an up-to-date photographic studio, with all the latest improvements, is in course or construction. The alterations are being carried out to the design of Mr R. W. Meers, a photographic artist, who was for many years in business in Christchurch, and holds high testimonials from Sir Robert Stout, the late Sir Julius Yogel, the late Mr John F. Sheridan, Mr Howard Vernon and leading lights in the theatrical profession.

The premises referred to will include a passage to the vestibule, off which are dressing and work rooms. A staircase is provided, which leads to a workroom, darkroom, and studios. The last apartment is about 36ft in length, and is splendidly lighted from the South.The premises will be fitted with every convenience suitable for the turning out of photographic enlargements and portraiture work of the highest order. Mr Meers inserts a business announcement elsewhere and notifies that he is now ready to accept orders at the studio, which he intends to open to the public in about a week's time. - Bay of Plenty Times, Volume XXXVIII, Issue 5438, 22 November 1909, Page 2

Bay of Plenty Times, Volume XXXVIII, Issue 5445, 8 December 1909, Page 3

There is now to be seen in Messrs Norris and Bell's buildings one of the most up-to-date studios to be found outside the large towns. The suite of apartments are occupied by Mr R. W. Meers, and comprises six rooms on two floors, viz., vestibule, dressing-room, finishing-room. work-room, studio and dark-room.

Entrance is obtained from the Strand through a long passage, the customer entering a neatly furnished vestibule. The dressing-room is clos (?) handy, fitted with all necessary conveniences, and immediately adjoining is the finishing and retouching room.

A carpeted staircase leads to the studio, 32 feet in length and 12 feet in breadth. This apartment, is of course, the principal one, and is beautifully lit with two skylights having a surface of rolled plate-glass 64 feet square. Tow sidelights on the southern side, each measuring 8 feet by 6 feet, are also provided. While in the construction ventilation has received every attention. The skylights are fitted with two set of blinds - black and white - so as to enable the operation to secure the most delicate lighting for any glass of subject. The walls are decorated in neutral green, so as to relieve the glare of light from the sitters' eyes. Linoleum of a design to match covers the floor and shows at once Mr Meers had blended colours in this important compartment in a most tasteful manner.

Mr Meers possesses a local reputation as an artist and intends to make the vignetting and backgrounds a special feature of the room and to have a complete set of changes in the department. The furniture and accessories are also to be of the very latest designs. In photography the instrument is a prime factor for the production of high-class work, and in the Excelsior art studio is to be seen a "Hare" camera in mahogany of the very latest British make, fitted with an instantaneous shutter, working inside the instrument, which enables the operator to take pleasant and natural expression without the sitter being aware of the fact that the portrait has been taken, while restless babies are no longer a trouble to the photographer and mother when this instrument is in operation.

The lens is an important accessory, the instrument being fitted with a Dalimeyer 3 B instantaneous lens having a 4 inch aperture. Just off the studio is the dark room, which is specially designed and fitted with ruby and orange lights. In addition there is a special, enlarging apparatus fitted with a Ross' lens, which will throw pictures to full life size up to six feet in height.

This apartment has a water supply laid on, and is connected with the drainage system below. The above brief description will convey some idea to readers of the establishment where Mr Meers will in future conduct his business, but, of course, there is nothing like a personal visit for satisfaction, and Mr Meers will be pleased to meet customers from now onward.

The construction work has been carried out in utmost workmanlike manner by Messrs Krakosky and Appleton, two builders from the South Island who have settled in Tauranga, while the decorations have been executed in a most finished manner by Messrs Stewart and Shaw. - Bay of Plenty Times, Volume XXXVIII, Issue 5416, 10 December 1909, Page 2

His death was registered in 1929 (1929/781 Meers Robert Walter 68 years)

Christchurch, April 22
An eight roomed house in Hereford street east was partly destroyed by fire this evening, and the contents including a quantity of photographic material badly damaged. The building was the property of Robert W. Meers and was insured in the Alliance office for £500 and the furniture for £300.
West Coast Times, Volume I, Issue 2482, 23 April 1903, Page 3

1861 England census
Christchurch City Council - cemeteries database for William Frederick Meers
Christchurch Electoral Roll - 1890

Christchurch Star, 18 Sept 1886 Auckland City Libraries
North Otago Times, Volume XXXIII, Issue 6809, 6 August 1889, Page 3.


Sarah said...

Do you have any further information on the "Exclesior Art" brand. I have a photo with it on which I'm trying to date:


Early Canterbury Photography said...

the only information I have found so far on Meers is shown above, sorry I can't help further.

FamilySleuth said...

I was browsing 'Papers Past' for more information on a family member, Adam Boor, when I found a mention of Robert Meers in relation to a court case involving child maltreatment "Press, Volume XLVI, Issue 7438, 11 October 1889, Page 3" under the heading 'Supreme Court'. This appeared to be a notorious case, and Adam Bloor gave evidence relating to the child's condition. Robert Walter Meers took photographs of the child, giving 'scientific evidence' of her state. There is some interesting comment on whether photographic evidence was admissible, and the defense appears to be discrediting the photographs on the grounds that they can be manipulated. I thought you may find this an interesting addendum to Robert Meers' work.

Unknown said...

Is there any photos of Robert Walters Meers and his wife?

Early Canterbury Photography said...

not that i know of.