Wrigglesworth and Binns

Wrigglesworth and Binns
Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin


from February 1874 to 31 May 1905

Messrs Wrigglesworth and Binns' new photographic rooms, opposite the Empire Hotel in Willis street, have now been completed, and they may be safely classed as the best and most complete in the Colony. Visitors from Auckland and Dunedin have admitted that they are superior to any in either of those cities. The additional accommodation and the improved arrangement of the premises will enable photographs to be completed more rapidly than in the old establishment. The comfort of sitters has been attended to, and a pretty little room has been fitted up for the ladies. The reception or waiting-room has been tastefully furnished and decorated. A solar camera has just been fitted up, and very shortly the firm will be able to enlarge photographs from carte de visite to life size. Previously there has not been a solar camera here, and it may be anticipated that people who have in their possession photographs, on a small scale, of friends and relations will be glad to be able to have them enlarged and colored, so that they may possess what resembles with great exactness a well-finished life-sized portrait in oils. The photographs from this studio have long been favorably known, and the proprietors appear determined to keep up the good name they have earned.
Wellington Independent, Volume XXIX, Issue 4023, 10 February 1874

Sydney International Exhibition
17 September 1879 -  20 April 1880

The International Exhibition Building, Sydney, New South Wales
The London Illustrated News

Our progress in photographic art will be most creditably represented, we are clad to see, at the Sydney Exhibition. Messrs. Wrigglesworth and Binns have prepared a large case of exhibits, comprising photographic portraits in every conceivable style, all admirably executed. Some, indeed, go far beyond the ordinary "photo" standard, and rise to the rank of works of high art. Several of the cabinet pictures are marvels of clearness in outline, combined with softness and roundness, and surprising perspective effects, the figures . standing out as if seen through a stereoscope. Some of the Rembrandt pictures and the dark vignettes are remarkably fine. If any better, collection of photographs can be shown in Sydney than this of our local artists, we can only say that we should like to see them. The case is now on view at Messrs. Wrigglesworth and Binns' studio.
Evening Post, Volume XVIII, Issue 24, 28 July 1879

Among the awards made by the judges, the lists of which come to hand in piecemeal fashion, we find the following — we hope to soon receive others:

...Class 415-16.— Wrigglesworth and Binns, Wellington Photographs; the reflective lights and shades have been studied with effect, and show great skill; second degree of merit.
[rood, though in the arrangement of the design lightness is wanted ; third degree of merit.
New Zealand Mail, Issue 430, 8 May 1880

The following supplementary awards have been made to New Zealand exhibitors at the Sydney Exhibition:...Wrigglesworth and Binns, Wellington, raised to 1st merit for cabinet and carte de visite photos...In reference to the award to Messrs. Wrigglesworth and Binns, the judges added the following note: — "The reflective lights and shades have been studied with effect and show great skill."
Evening Post, Volume XIX, Issue 128, 4 June 1880 

Evening Post, Volume XX, Issue 186, 11 August 1880

 Melbourne International Exhibition
1 October 1880 - 30 April 1881

The International Exhibition Building, Melbourne, Victoria
The Illustrated London News

Our local photographers, Messrs. Wrigglesworth and Binns, have won the gratifying distinction of being the only New Zealand photographic artists who have carried off first prizes in both the Sydney and the Melbourne exhibition.
Evening Post, Volume XXI, Issue 93, 22 April 1881 

 Evening Post, Volume XXV, Issue 19, 24 January 1883

New Zealand Industrial Exhibition

A New Photographic Process.
A number of gentlemen met at Messrs. Wrigglesworth and Binns studio yesterday afternoon to inspect a collection of photographs produced by a new process, patented by the firm, and known as the Matt-Opal type. The portraits ranged in size from panel to carte, and were for the most part those of well-known ladies and gentlemen in the city.

The peculiarity of the new process is that it gives to the ordinary albumenised silver photographic prints, a smooth, unpolished engraved-like surface. This is quite a new departure in regard to albumenised prints, as previous developments have been in the direction of increasing the polished or glazed surface, resulting with the aid of hot pressing, varnish and enamel, in a rather staring, garish picture, which is certainly not artistic, although photographers declare the effect is to bring out the detail, preserve the photograph, &c. Undoubtedly the detail is sometimes rather painfully brought out, and the mark of the "retoucher" becomes unduly apparent.

If the public like the pictures produced by the means we have named, and others of a kindred type, it is because they have hitherto seen nothing better, but we venture to say that glazed and enamelled pictures will not for a moment bear comparison with those produced by tho Matt-Opal process.

After the usual style of thing, the eye rests gratefully on such portraits as those shown by Messrs. Wrigglesworth and Binns yesterday. They have all the softness and delicacy of a well-executed Indian ink drawing. There is no glaze, they are tender and delicate in outline, the shadows are cool and soft, and the lights calm and tranquil. The general effect is really charming, and the merits of the process are enhanced by the highly artistic posing of the subjects, for which this firm is noted. The portraits are one and all most life-like, and the work stands even microscopic examination. We are quite sure the Matt-Opal type will commend itself to public approval as a most decided improvement on all other methods of silver printing, and we believe the cost will be very slightly, if at all, greater. The new pictures are to be on public view in the vestibule of Messrs. Wrigglesworth and Binns' studio to-morrow. We hope tho firm, will achieve as great a commercial success as they have an artistic one, in connection with this new process.

Evening Post, Volume XXXVIII, Issue 113, 8 November 1889, Page 2

Wrigglesworth and Binns (J. D. Wrigglesworth and F. C. Binns) Photographers, Willis Street, Wellington, and at Christchurch and Dunedin. Telephone 161. Bankers, Bank of Australasia, Private residences: Mr. Wrigglesworth, Upper Dixon Street; Mr. Binns, Christchurch. London agents: Messrs. Mawson and Swan.

The business of this celebrated firm of photographers was established in 1863 and was carried on by its originator, Mr. Wrigglesworth, until 1871 [1874], when he was joined by Mr. Binns. Their premises are large and of good appearance, being five stories high, and possessing a floorage space of something like 10,000 square feet. Messrs. Wrigglesworth and Binns have always maintained a very high excellence in all their work, and in 1879 gained first award at the Sydney exhibition. Again in 1881, they were similarly successful at Melbourne, and at the New Zealand exhibition of 1885 they carried off the only first award given in New Zealand for portrait photography. Though they have at various times done a good deal in the landscape branch, their efforts have been mainly devoted to the production of high-class portraits. The firm are patentees of the process which has become so well known under the name of the “Matt-Opal Type Process,” which gives a most delicate finish to the work. The perfecting of this process did much towards keeping the firm in the very foremost ranks of Australasian photographers. The newest speciality in their work is the “Mona” portrait, which is a bromide enlargement upon a new principle, giving to the picture very much the appearance of a direct photograph, though there is a softness and delicacy of tint far surpassing the very finest direct prints by the process which science has so far revealed to us. Messrs. Wrigglesworth and Binns are producing these works of art at a price which places them within the reach of all, and at exceptionally low rates for so fine and costly a process as the “Mona” is known to be. The Wellington business is personally superintended by Mr. Wrigglesworth; that at Christchurch by Mr. Binns; and the Dunedin branch, which is conducted under the name of Eden George, Limited, is in the charge of an experienced manager. This is a firm to be thoroughly and unreservedly recommended. Their trade extends throughout the length and breadth of the Colony and even beyond, while tourists and others passing through the Empire City invariably take away with them a specimen of the work which New Zealand is capable of producing at the hands of Wrigglesworth and Binns.

The Cyclopedia of New Zealand - Wellington Provincial District 1897

The artistic side of photography has had special attention devoted to it within recent years, and the studio of Messrs. Wrigglesworth and Binns has always borne evidence of the progressive movement.

Among the latest mechanical aids to the art has been the setting up of a series of backgrounds of a kind which have been used in the studios of the Old World and America with most satisfactory results as regards the turning of the photograph into a picture.

Messrs. Wrigglesworth and Binns have recently received a series of cloths which bear the signature of Seavey of New York, who is a well-known American scenic artist. These cloths greatly enhance the artistic effect and finish of the work done by the firm, the backgrounds including seascapes, interiors, Rembrandt-like effects in portraiture, and interiors. Some new chairs placed in the studio will tend to lighten the task of posing for portraits.

Very fine bromide photographic work has recently been done by the firm, an exhibition of which is to be given in the vestibule in Willis-street shortly. The vestibule itself is being renovated, the decorative colour being changed from pink to green, and when this is completed and the pictures are arranged for exhibition the display should attract attention.

Evening Post, Volume LVII, Issue 71, 25 March 1899, Page 4


A New Photographic Studio.
Many of our readers will regard, as important information, the fact that Messrs Wrigglesworth and Binns' new photographic studio in Willis street, Wellington, will be ready for business early in October. With the destruction by fire of their old premises, some months ago, passed away about the finest collection of finished pictures and negatives it is possible to produce by photography, and numerous residents of the Province have cause to regret the loss. The new premises are being fitted up in the very best style; no expense is being spared in providing instruments, furniture, and accessories, therefore it is safe to predict that before long this firm will have an exhibition of pictures in their vestibule unsurpassed by those which have been burnt. Messrs Wrigglesworth and Binns are noted throughout New Zealand for the beauty and originality of their photographs, which are characteristic of striking pose, splendid likeness, and dainty finish, and to those who possess them there is genuine satisfaction in knowing that the colouring will last for all time. Mr J. D. Wrigglesworth will, as before, have personal superintendence and control of the Wellington studio, so that patrons may rest assured of the production of interesting, beautiful and striking photographs. In another column is a preliminary notification; the exact date of the opening of the new studio, will be given in a future issue.

Feilding Star, Volume XXIII, Issue 75, 24 September 1901, Page 2


City Improvements.
Wrigglesworth and Binns' New Studio.
The photographic business of Messrs. Wrigglesworth and Binns has more than a local reputation. The firm's work is to be seen in homes and offices and public places throughout the colony, and not a few people have in years part taken advantage of a visit to Wellington to "have a sitting" in the well-known Willis-street studio.

The unfortunate fire of some months ago not only caused the destruction of thousands of valuable negatives, but temporarily banished the firm from the place where its operation had been carried on so successfully and for so many years. But there has now risen upon the site a bigger, brighter, and better building than that of old. The new studio of the firm is located in premises which immediately catch the eye of the person who passes along Willis-street. The three-story, substantial looking building has been neatly designed by Mr. W. C. Chatfield, and well and truly built by Messrs. J. and A. Wilson. But it is upon the interior of the building that taste has been lavished by Mr. Wrigglesworth, the design having been carried out excellently by Messrs. R. and E. Tingey. The colouring on walls and ceilings is in harmony with an artistic scheme of furnishing; and embossed zinc, which has been used for the covering of the walls and ceilings, has been effectively toned and decorated.

Upon the first floor, the main business of the firm is to be done, and this is approached from the street front by a stairway of easy grade, flanked by such a fine collection of photographs as makes the visitor pause often in the upward journey to scrutinise the individual exhibits.

Overlooking busy Willis-street is one of the handsomest of reception-rooms, furnished with the upmost good taste, with a beautifully painted ceiling, and containing so many attractive objects as to make it a pleasure to wait within such a bower. There will be no complaints from patrons about weariness of waiting amidst surroundings so agreeable.

Off the reception-room is the public office, which is the centre of a house-telephone system, and which also contains a lift communicating with the work-rooms above. The office has a store-room attached, and alongside, is a dressing-room which ladies will declare to be "a dream," so tasteful is its decorative scheme of geranium pink, and its pretty furnishings. Approaching the studio, the visitor passes a dressing-room for gentlemen, containing, like all the other room's, a neatly-set gas-stove, to warm wintry temperature, and a lavatory for the use of patrons.

Then comes the studio, commodious, well-lighted, conveniently arranged. With an area of 40ft x 20ft, it gives facilities for the taking of the largest of groups, and is equipped with the most modern aids to the photographer's art. Mr. Wrigglesworth has secured a series of backgrounds specially painted to suit the gallery, which has an elaborate system of shades for regulating the lighting. Off the studios are the changing-room and the dark-room, the latter being lighted by both gas and electric light.

On the second floor are located the workroom, and what may be termed the hive of the industry. In the eastern corner of the floor, Mr. Wrigglesworth has his "snuggery," which is cosy and comfortable-looking. Adjoining are separate rooms for the re-touchers and the artists, the toning, fixing, enamelling, mounting, and burnishing rooms; also storerooms for chemicals, etc. The enlargement department of the firm's business has become one of the first importance, and a commodious room has been set apart for this work. Off this room access is obtained to the fire-escape, and the whole floor is well equipped with lighting and sanitary appliances.

Up another flight of stairs, and the visitor comes to the "printery," a room specially designed to catch the sun in its various aspects, and with ample provision for its purpose. As an adjunct, there is a balcony, overlooking the back-door of Willis-street." Altogether, Messrs. Wrigglesworth and Binns's new premises may be classed as among the most up-to-date, and, in some respects, the best-equipped of the colony's photographic establishments, and they should attract many visitors.

Evening Post, Volume LXII, Issue 97, 21 October 1901, Page 6

A very large number of the public will regret to learn that after an eminently successful career, extending over a period of forty years, the well-known photographic firm of Wrigglesworth and Binns, Wellington, have decided to retire from business and to close down their operations on the 31st March next. To give lovers of high art pictures full opportunity of availing themselves of their services, the firm have instituted a reduced tariff of charges for all kinds of photographic work, which is to prevail till date of closing.

Mr J. D. Wrigglesworth, who has always superintended the Wellington business, has executed portraits of the heads of many families, their children, and children's children. Therefore, it will be a matter of surprise if that patronage he so well merits is not accorded him during the last few months of his stay in business. An announcement giving prices and other particulars appears in another column.
Wairarapa Daily Times, Volume XXVIII, Issue 8007, 1 December 1904

In the course of a few months according to an announcement made elsewhere, an old-established, and exceedingly wellknown, local firm will disappear from business life - that of Messrs. Wrigglesworth and Binns, photographers. The business was established in 1863 over forty years ago by Mr. J. D. Wrigglesworth, who still retains charge of the Wellington house. He was joined in 1874 by Mr. F. C. Binns, who some years later established himself in Christchurch, where the firm also conducts a branch, while a third branch is open in Dunedin. The firm has obtained a wide deputation for its artistic work, which has won special recognition in this and the adjoining colonies, and it is also the patentee of what has become a popular process in photographic art — the  matt-opal. The firm will cease to exist after the 31st March of next year.
Evening Post, Volume LXVIII, Issue 134, 3 December 1904 


Evening Post, Volume LXIX, Issue 4, 6 January 1905, Page 7


Following the closure of the Wellington business in 1905 the whole of the negatives were purchased by J. N. Isaacs, Victoria Studio, Manners Street, Wellington who then offered copies to the original sitters.


above - "J Mullan"

above - "Ernest Donald"

above - Palmer Pavey (?), Civil Service, Wellington, N.Z. 


above cdv courtesy of The Laurence Eagle Collection 

above cdv courtesy of The Laurence Eagle Collection

above and below
Hugh MacDonald, 1879

[looks similar to James Fulton]

The Honourable George Frederick Richardson
 (1837 – 23 October 1909)
by Wrigglesworth and Binns, Wellington
He was Minister of Lands (8 October 1887 – 24 January 1891), Minister of Mines (8 October 1887 – 17 October 1889), Minister of Immigration (8 October 1887 – 24 January 1891) and Minister of Agriculture (17 October 1889 – 24 January 1891) in the 5th Atkinson Ministry.
He died at his residence in Tinakori Road, Wellington on 23 October 1909 and was buried at Karori Cemetery

1893 to 1938

This postcard photograph may show the skylight of Wrigglesworth & Binns' studio located at 212 Colombo Street, Christchurch.
Canterbury Heritage said ... The postcard photo was taken in either 1901 or 1902. It is dated by the reconstruction of the Colombo Street Bridge, which was completed in the latter year. Most likely 1901, in which year the 1851 house of George Gould, still visible in Armagh Street, is recorded as having been moved to Addington.

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

Wrigglesworth and Binns (J. D. Wrigglesworth and Frederick Charles Binns), Photographers, 214 Colombo Street, Christchurch.
This well known firm, which has its headquarters in Wellington, was formed in 1870. There is a branch in Dunedin as well as in Christchurch, and the firm is noted throughout New Zealand for the superiority of its workmanship. The Christchurch branch is in charge of one of the partners, Mr. F.C. Binns, who is referred to in another part of this work as Grand Superintendent of Canterbury under the Grand Masonic Lodge of New Zealand.


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

Otago Witness, Issue 2393, 11 January 1900, Page 31

Mr Charles A. Winn who has been Dunedin manager for Wrigglesworth and Binns for the past 16 years of his 26 years’ service with the firm, is resigning at the end of the month for health reasons. 
Otago Daily Times, Issue 23925, 28 September 1939

Otago Daily Times, Issue 23927, 30 September 1939 

above - a unidentified women photographed in the Christchurch studio of Wrigglesworth & Binns (the chair shown is known to have been in their Christchurch studio)

 above - the daughters of Samuel McMurray and Sarah Jane Hay
photographed in the Christchurch studio of Wrigglesworth & Binns about 1901.

left - Lulu Moata McMurray 
born 25 April 1899 South Belt, Christchurch - died 25 December 1976 Christchurch

centre - Ivy Tuhiwi McMurray
born 4 July 1894 Christchurch - died 15 October 1968 St George’s Hospital, Christchurch

right - Elsie May McMurray 
born 23 August 1891, died 30 July 1944 

Wellington Studio
Three girls photographed by Wrigglesworth and Binns
probably Dunedin studio
[purchased November 2020]


 Wellington Studio

unknown woman photographed by Wrigglesworth and Binns
probably Dunedin studio
[purchased November 2020]

unknown man photographed by Wrigglesworth and Binns
probably Dunedin studio
[purchased November 2020]

"a sincere friend"

Wellington Studio

previously Hardwicke Knight Collection

"Mr Carmichael - Old friend of Mr & Mrs Bowden"

Wellington Studio

"Phil Hore"
Probably Philip Hore born 27 February 1874, St Austell, Cornwall, died 2 March 1956 Christchurch, married 1902 Margaret McNair Burns

  Taken at Wellington 30th December 1897
Ted aged 26 years
Alfred aged 23 years
Dud aged 19 years

Charles Trevail Bowden born 6 April 1896, reg. 1896/318 

An unnamed baby by Wrigglesworth and Binns, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin
[purchased November 2020]

above cabinet card courtesy of The Laurence Eagle Collection

above cabinet card courtesy of The Laurence Eagle Collection

above cabinet card courtesy of The Laurence Eagle Collection

above cabinet card courtesy of The Laurence Eagle Collection

above cabinet card courtesy of The Laurence Eagle Collection

above cabinet card courtesy of The Laurence Eagle Collection

above cabinet card courtesy of The Laurence Eagle Collection

above cabinet card courtesy of The Laurence Eagle Collection

unknown child by Wrigglesworth and Binns
[purchased May 2022]



"Doreen Sickels, Green Island 1916?"

Alice Webb and Robert John Brown married 26 April 1906 at the Woodbury Presbyterian Church, South Canterbury.
Photograph by Wrigglesworth and Binns probably in their Christchurch Studio at 212 Colombo Street. 


Neil, Margaret and Joan Whetter 
by Wrigglesworth and Binns, Christchurch studio circa 1920 

children of Mary Bawden and Dr. John Pearce Whetter 
 Cornelius William Whetter born circa 1911, reg. 1911/4758
 Margaret Mary Whetter born circa 1913, reg. 1913/10324
 Joan Percival Whetter born circa 1918, reg. 1918/10081
At the time this photograph was taken the family was living in Christchurch at 211 Gloucester Street.

 Derek Raymond Murray
about 1928
"Jess with Derek after Cecil died"
"Derek with his mother taken after the death of husband and father"

by Wrigglesworth and Binns, Christchurch studio
 Derek Raymond Murray
about 1929
by Wrigglesworth and Binns, Christchurch studio

  Derek Raymond Murray born 16 August 1924, 70 Bealey Street, St Albans, Christchurch
reg. 2011/18271 

"Lockie Gray"
perhaps Lachlan James Gray
    born 14 July 1916 died 18 March 1998, reg. 1998/5620

Mr Lachlan James Gray, a young Invercargill architect, has won the travelling scholarship in architecture of the University of New Zealand. Mr Gray, who is 24 years old, is the son of Mr Lachlan Gray, a building contractor, of Grey street, Invercargill. He completed his work for the degree of Bachelor of Architectural Science in October of last year, and his thesis was accepted in November. It is necessary to be a bachelor of architecture to qualify for this scholarship. He was educated at the Southland Boys' High School, which he left in 1932. He went to the School of Architecture of Auckland University College in 1936.
Press, Volume LXXVII, Issue 23266, 28 February 1941


courtneycotton01@gmail.com said...

Hi, loving your blog.
I'm wondering if you are interested in a photo I have of a woman with a cat on her shoulder. It is a large photo stuck on cardboard but with no photographer's name on it. On the back is stuck a newspaper article titled 'Romance of the Late Dr. Schachner' and in it is mentioned Kate Wrigglesworth (aka Gair) whom he married. I'm presuming the photo is of Kate but I suppose it could be anybody. She looks very similar to the woman in the first two photos in this article with the same curls on her forehead.
Anyway, I'd be happy to send you a scan of front & back of this photo if you'd like it.


Unknown said...

Reginald William (R.W.) Binns, a son of Frederick Charles Binns, was a photographer from Christchurch, NZ who had an Australian connection. He announced the opening "for a few months" of his Nui Tirini Photographic Studio about Australia Day (26th January) 1897 in Goulburn, NSW. Nui Tirini stood opposite the Oddfellows Hall (now Argyle Mall) in Auburn Street. The last mention of him in the local newspaper, the Goulburn Penny Post is in August 1898, and a competitor, the Rozelle Studio announced in December that they had bought all his stock. Also during his brief time in Goulburn (c. 20 to 24 months) he patented a new photographic process http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article108054166.

R.W. Binns appears to have returned to Christchurch, which was maybe his original intention. Is there any more information on this photographer?