Dunedin Photographic Company

Dunedin Photographic Company
George Street


VANIMAN, Chester Melvin

Chester Melvin Vaniman

Chester Melvin Vaniman born 30 October 1866 Virden, Illinois, USA son of George Vaniman and Louise Decker, died 2 July 1912 near Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA aged 45 years, married 24 October 1900, St Andrew's Cathedral, Honolulu by the Rev. Kitcat Ida Jane Loud [her brother or nephew was the balloonist Albert Louis Loud] born 12 Apr 1869 daughter of Samuel Woodbury Loud and Sarah Frances Tankersley. 

Chester Melvin Vaniman
Courtesy of National Air and Space Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution
Image Number: SI-96-15130

During the period February 1902 to February 1903 Melvin Vaniman took a series of large panorama photographs in New Zealand.

Chester Melvin Vaniman was the son of George Vaniman (born circa 1833 Ohio) and Louise Decker (Louise born circa 1843 Pennsylvania). He had two known younger brothers [3] Elmer Vaniman (born circa 1870 Illinois) and Calvin Vaniman (born circa 1874 Illinois). His mother Louise Decker was born 26 April 1843 and died 30 August 1922, Virden, Macoupin, Illinois [4].  Melvin Vaniman died with his brother Calvin Vaniman during an attempt  to cross the Atlantic by airship. The airship, the Akron [left], exploded off the New Jersey shore on 2 July 1912 killing the Vaniman brothers and three other crew members.

The Hawaiian Star, 25 October 1900, page 3
Library of Congress

Vaniman - Loud
Mr. Chester Melvin Vanimon (sic), photographer at King Bros. and first tenor in the Tuxedo Quartet and Miss Ida Jane Loud were united in marriage at St. Andrew's Cathedral by Rev. Kitcat this morning at 10 o'clock.

Mrs. Vanimon (sic) arrived in the Queen this morning direct from her home in Springfield, Ill. Mrs. Vaniman is the fortunate possessor a a beautiful lyric soprano voice and has a most enviable reputation in the middle states as a concert, oratorio and church soprano and will be a valuable addition to the talent already here.

Just a few intimate friends attended the ceremony, among whom were Mrs. Dr. Hoffmanm and F. W. Beardslee.
Evening Bulletin, (Honolulu), October 24, 1900, vol. IX no. 1669, page 1. 
Library of Congress 

Vocalist of High Merit
The Springfield, (Ill.) News, of Oct. says: An event of much interest, both in social and musical circles of Springfield, is the departure of Miss Ida Loud, this afternoon for Honolulu, where she will wed Mr. Chester Melvin (sic) of that place.  

The wedding will be celebrated, it is thought, on October 26.

Miss Loud travels across the country alone also making the sea trip alone, but this will be only one of her various trips, she having traveled much. At the least calculation she will make the trip entire in sixteen days. Mr. Melvin is also a vocalist of much talent, and is at present engaged with the firm of King Bros of Honolulu, having charge of the art department.

He speaks in the highest terms of the city, which has a population of 60,000, and is entirely up-to-date, with more automobiles than our own Springfield can boast of, besides electricity in all its productions.

The city is full of foreigners - Americans by the score while the artistic branches are not forgotten, so that in all Miss Loud will find plenty to remind her of home.Miss Loud has the faculty of making friends and the congregations of the First Methodist and Baptist churches will miss her voice in the choir.
Evening Bulletin, (Honolulu), October 30, 1900, Page 7, Image 7


Chester Melvin Vaniman was sometimes referred to as Cal or Calvin Melvin.

Andrew Boyd, who goes by the name of Lloyd, his step-father's name, was charged with stealing Actor Cal Melvin's watch at Morton's opera house on the 20th January. The case was continued until Thursday.
The Paducah Daily Sun. (Paducah, Kentucky), 30 Nov. 1897. 
Library of Congress.

1899 - 1901

Arrived Honolulu, Hawaii per s. s. Australia from San Francisco 25 October 1899 (as Cal. Melvin) aged 32 years 11 months - The Hawaiian Star, October 25, 1899, Page 2
Departed Honolulu per s.s. Sierra on 17 September 1901 for San Francisco - passengers included Mr and Mrs. Melvin Vaniman - The Honolulu Republican, September 18, 1901, Page 2.

The Latest Fad in Photography 
Success Achieved by Mr. Cal Melvin, Honolulu, Photographer.
Love Sick Youths May Now Visit the Studio
Pictures Over the Heart or in the Hand - What is a Fad in the East May Prove One Here.

Love sick young men and women will hail with a sigh of relief the success that has crowned the efforts of Cal Melvin, head of the photographic department of King Bros.' art store, along the line of photography on the human body. He has experimented for some time past and his persistent efforts have been rewarded although the skin on his hands, and arms has been pretty well disfigured in the attempts.

Mr. Melvin now stands ready to photograph the picture of one's beloved, directly over the heart so that one may carry it there always. Should it be desired to place such a picture in the hand with the guarantee that it will only fade after hundreds of washings, Mr. Melvin can do it. Thus is the problem of pictures in lockets and watches greatly simplified.

If one has an enemy whom he wishes to trumpel in the dust every hour, Mr. Melvin will photograph a striking likeness on one's foot.

Mr. Melvin was seen this morning by a Bulletin reporter, to whom he gave the following story: "I have in friend in Rochester, N. Y., who is connected with the Eastman Kodak Co.

"A short time ago he wrote me, saying that someone had discovered a method of photographing on any part of the human body, and that the fad of having pictures placed in the hands or on the arms of people was becoming something stupendous. He stated further that the process, although not yet patented, was secret.

"I made up my mind I would see what there was in the thing and got my chemicals ready for business. I accidentally stumbled upon what I believed to be a satisfactory method and proceeded to photograph on my hand. What I got was a black spot that all the chemicals in the studio failed to remove.

"I knew I was on the right track and changed my chemicals slightly. I was delighted a few days ago to find that I had succeeded in putting a well defined photograph on my hand. I immediately had the result photographed.

"Upon attempting to get the picture off my hand I found it could not be attacked by any of the acids. I was horrified, for there, staring me in the face was the likeness of a beautiful girl. I had picked out the first plate I found without looking to see what it was. Why I was horrified you can well imagine, for I expected to go calling in the evening and really my hair is not very long. I finally took a knife and began to peel away the skin but the deeper I got, the clearer the likeness became.

"My next step In experimenting will be to find something that will remove these pictures at a moment's notice for I believe that Honolulu is noted for its fickle young people who may want a new picture every week of perhaps oftener."

It has long been supposed that pictures could not be photographed on the human body, but the strides photography has taken during the past few years makes the present achievement, seem less wonderful than it might have seemed a couple of years ago.
Evening Bulletin, (Honolulu), 24 August 1900, Library of Congress.

Panoramic Photography.
King Bros, have been doing some remarkable panoramic photographic work recently. With a new camera, which they call the "rubber neck," which is filled with a very fast lense and set on a pivot, enabling it to be rapidly turned as the lense is exposed they have succeeded in securing negatives showing a panoramic view of Honolulu harbor and city. The views were taken from the top of the new smokestack of the electric light works at the corner of Halekauwila and Alakea streets, the lense taking in an arc of a circle of 140 degrees in one-quarter second exposure. The pictures obtained are very clear and distinct so much so that one would think they had been taken by a powerful rectilinear lense in a stationary camera. In this respect they show the wonderful improvements in photography in recent years.
The Honolulu Republican. (Honolulu), 28 November 1900 page 5. 
Library of Congress.

King Bros have accomplished a beautiful and useful work of photographic art as supplementary to Gov. Doles report to the federal government. It is a panorama of our harbor from the extreme limit of the wharves to Dimond Head and brings out in splendid detail the Dillingham and quarantine wharves, all the buildings in progress of convuction [construction?] in town as well as the completed sky scrapers. It was necessary to have a special camera constructed. The picture is four foot in in length.
The Independent, (Honolulu), 28 November 1900. 
Library of Congress

 Evening Bulletin, (Honolulu) 2 February 1901
Library of Congress. 

King Bros, have issued a most effective panoramic photograph of Honolulu from Diamond Head to Kalihi, taken from the topmast of a vessel in the harbor by Mr. Melvin.
The Honolulu Republican, (Honolulu), 23 February 1901, 
Library of Congress. 

A Photographic Triumph.
Mr. Melvin. of King Brothers, has produced one of the best photographs of Honolulu that has ever been taken. He had himself lashed to the top of the foremast of a vessel lying in the harbor, and although he worked for two hours before securing a satisfactory, exposure, the result has more than repaid him for his patience. Oahu, from Diamond Head to Kalihi, lies in panoramic review before the spectator. To the men who did the developing, printing and mounting, a need of praise should also be given.
The Honolulu Republican. (Honolulu), 23 February 1901, page 2, 
Library of Congress.

Evening Bulletin. (Honolulu), 22 April 1901.
 Library of Congress.
The Honolulu Republican, 16 June 1901, page 14
 Library of Congress.

The band concert tomorrow after noon will be at the Hawaiian hotel by consent of Acting Governor Cooper instead of Emma Square. A panoramic photograph of the hotel will be taken, including the band during the concert.
Evening Bulletin. (Honolulu), 26 July 1901. Library of Congress.

Photographic Feat by Melvin Vanimon
Mr. Melvin Vaniman, the expert photographer for King Bros., has just completed a marvelous piece of photographic work - a panoramic view of Honolulu from Diamond Head to Kalihi. The picture is 48 inches long and was taken from the foremast of the bark C. D.Brjant on Thursday last with a camera especially constructed by Mr. Vaniman and provided with a big lens, which was made in Germany and which arrived but a few days go.

No such feat as that accomplished by Mr. Vaniman has ever been equaled or even approached by any photographer in Honolulu. The camera which Mr. Vaniman used is capable, of accommodating a 27-inch plate. The photographer states that on Monday he will have one of the pictures colored and on show.
Evening Bulletin, (Honolulu), 27 July 1901, page 1. 
Library of Congress. 

The Honolulu Photo Supply Co. have the Al Vista Panoramic Camera
which will prove of special interest to photographers. See their ad on page 3.
The Honolulu Republican. (Honolulu), 17 August 1901.

The Honolulu Republican, 17 August 1901, page 6
 Library of Congress.

 Volcano House (small)
Call Number: PAN US GEOG - Hawaii no. 5 (E size) [P&P]
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

 Volcano House (large)
Call Number: PAN US GEOG - Hawaii no. 6 (E size) [P&P]
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

 Haleiwa Hotel, Honolulu [i.e., Haleiwa town, Honolulu County]
Call Number: PAN US GEOG - Hawaii no. 10 (E size) [P&P]
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

The Pali
Call Number: PAN US GEOG - Hawaii no. 13 (E size) [P&P]
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Activity of the Volcano
Heat has Perceptibly Increased of Late
Cracks at White Heat -  Dense Cloud of Sulphurous Vapor - Exeellent View of the Crater Secured.

Recent arrivals from Hawaii report the crater of Kilauea in a state of decidedly increasing activity.

Melville Vanimann, who returned on Saturday morning after having spent several days at the Volcano House in a successful attempt to obtain a panoramic view of the crater and its surroundings, was as a necessity of his enterprise a close observer of the volcano and its vagaries and states that even within the few days of his stay the heat rose perceptibly and the smoke increased.

The picture obtained by the artist, which is to form one of the series of Hawaiian panoramas, is now on view in McInerny's window. The view starts on the right with the Volcano House and assumes the spectator's standpoint on the hotel grounds looking across the tropical foliage at the slopes of Mauna Loa lying directly in the background. Kilauea lies off to the left, with a dense cloud of white smoke showing the signs of the present activity issuing from the bed of the lake, columns of steam are distributed throughout the landscape overlooking which and giving life to the study stands Governor Dole in a little group of figures.

"The smoke" said Mr. Vanimann "assumes the most eccentric and beautiful forms, they are hard to photograph however as the strong wind continually blows the smoke across the islands. On the morning of my arrival it was hanging in mid air in the likeness of an enormous white balloon but long before I could get a camera to bear upon it the wind had completely dispersed its shape.

"The smoke appears to be sulphurous, the slightest whiff of it being unbearable as it immediately strangles the throat with its fumes. It all issues from one vent a considerable distance down the crater. It Is not illuminated at night either being too thick, or the fire too smothered, to show a glow. Many of the cracks are at white heat and a stick thrown into the crevasses is consumed before it has time to reach the sides. At night they show in crimson relief against the dark field of the lava.

"Mr. Mizner and myself, continued Mr. Vaniman, "went on a goat hunting expedition in which Governor Dole participated, securing four goats. The Governor had two to his credit and I secured in all four head during the trip. There is excellent shooting in the vicinity of the volcano."
The Hawaiian Star, (Honolulu), 26 August 1901, page 3. 
Library of Congress.

 Crater of Kilauea, Hawaii
Call Number: PAN US GEOG - Hawaii no. 4 (E size) [P&P]
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

The pole, from the summit of which the big photograph of the Honolulu Iron Works was to have been taken by Melvin Vanimann, fell to the ground and broke during the hoisting into position yesterday and is now being erected afresh under the supervision of Manager Hedemann. Vanimann will be pulled up to a platform at the top of the pole 120 feet above the ground, in an improvised chair, taking his camera with him.
The Hawaiian Star, (Honolulu), 30 August 1901, 
Library of Congress

Vaniman's panoramic view of the Honolulu and the Iron Works in September 1901
The San Francisco Call, 08 Dec. 1901
Library of Congress

A Panoramic Photograph.
Successful picture of the Iron Works obtained from lofty pole.
A successful picture of the Honolulu Iron Works has been obtained from the summit of a pole by Melvin Vanniman (sic).

A photograph of the works while often desired by Manager Hedmann presented almost insuperable difficulties to the ordinary photographer owing to there being no eminence near from which to gain a bird's eye view of the ground. Bearing in mind the panoramic picture of Honolulu lately obtained from a mast head Mr. Hedemann, who is quite an expert photographer himself, gained the services of Mr. Vannman (sic) and erected the pole that had been use by High diver Seabury during the visit of Jordan's circus, on the beach overlooking the works. The pole broke once and had to be spliced the total expense of erecting the pole running into $200.

Up this to the height of 107 feet the photographer was hauled in an improvised sling by four husty Portuguese yesterday afternoon. Despite the oscillation of the pole an excellent negative was secured with the Iron Works in the foreground in excellent detail and the residence and business portion of Honolulu plainly laid out in the back ground. The picture takes in Diamond Head to the right and shows the naval reservation with its slip and coalsheds and takes in the full sweep of the water front. All the public buildings, business blocks and many private houses are plainly discernible.

Manager Hedemann is to be congratulated on his enterprise in procuring a photograph which, while costly, will advertise Honolulu in the beauty of its foliage clad city and mountains as well as from the standpoint of its important industry the Honolulu Iron Works.

The Hawaiian Star. (Honolulu [Oahu]), 12 September 1901.
Library of Congress.

Vaniman Going to Niagara
Hope to Make Greatest Picture of Falls Ever  Taken.
Melvin Vaniman, the trapeze photographer who has distinguished himself by securing several photographs from ships-mast, 80-foot poles, etc., will leave by the Sierra for the mainland, accompanied by Mrs. Vaniman. The two will go to Niagara Falls, of which wonderful natural phenomenon Mr. Vaniman hopes to secure a photograph such as never has before been taken. The clever photographer says that he has a scheme perfected by which he feels sure he can secure a view that will excel any photograph of the falls ever taken.
The Honolulu Republican. (Honolulu), 15 September 1901.
Library of Congress.

Vaniman panoramic picture of the Hawaiian Hotel taken in September 1901
Call Number: PAN US GEOG - Hawaii no. 7 (E size) [P&P]
Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Mr Vaniman of the King Bros art store took a panoramic picture of the Hawaiian hotel and grounds yesterday afternoon and he thinks that he has obtained good results. The guests of the hotel were notified and they were nearly all out on the lawns or in carriages in the driveways. The band had also been notified and Captain Merger had his boys in the band stand. They were dressed in white and had their instruments with them.
Evening Bulletin. (Honolulu), 17 September 1901 page 5. 
Library of Congress. 

s.s. Sierra departed Honolulu, 17 September 1901 for San Francisco - passengers included Mr and Mrs. Melvin Vaniman.
The Honolulu Republican, 18 September 1901, Page 2, 
Library of Congress 

 Photographer Vanniman 
Has Made Contract With Steamship Company for Australian Views.
Melvin Vanniman, who will be remembered as the designer of a camera with which he succeeded in taking some excellent local views from various ingenious and difficult view points is expected to arrive on the Ventura on which he will be a passenger to Australasia where he goes under a contract with the Oceanic Steamship Company to make views for their use.

Vanniman is said to have made a very advantageous contract with the steamship company after having taken some very successful views in the states that have established him as a photographer of the first rank. He will bring with him prints of all that he has accomplished since his departure from Hawaii and display them during the time the steamer is in port.
The Hawaiian Star, (Honolulu), 21 January 1902. Library of Congress.

Pictures of Hawaii
Are Being Widely Distributed by Steamship Line.

Melvin Vanniman on his way around the World - will photograph celebrated scenes en route.

Melvin Vanniman photographer of the well known views of Honolulu and vicinity and the builder of the special camera that was used in the work is a through passenger on the Ventura under an agreement with the Oceanic Steamship Company to take views in New Zealand, Australia and other Oriental countries.

Vanniman, who is accompanied by his wife, will be absent from America for two years, intending to extend his tour through Asia to Europe and home by way of England taking special views, probably five or six in each important or interesting place, en route. He has great expectations from New Zealand scenery and is also looking forward to India and its cities and later to Constantinople and the Golden Horn.

The large camera, built down here for the Iron Works, has been left in charge of his brother in San Francisco who will fill two large contracts with it that the present tour precluded Vanniman form attending to personally. These contracts are for photographs of Mount Tamalpais and the Risdon Iron Works. The cameras to be used on the trip have been found to be the most practicable size and take a picture the same size as the volcano pictures exhibited in Honolulu, taking in an horizon of 185 degrees. Mrs. Vanniman will do the coloring of the prints. Work done by the photographer in California was mostly confined to the southern portion of that state.

"The Oceanic Company are advertising Honolulu in splendid fashion," said Vanniman this morning. "They are sending complete sets of the Honolulu pictures, the harbor, volcano, Pali and the others to their offices in Australia and New Zealand, all framed in the very best fashion. Four sets have been ordered just as I left for home distribution and their window in the Call building has another set on exhibition that continually attracts a great deal of attention. Some of these sets have been colored. The picture of the Pali seems to have created the most favorable impression and I am convinced has done much to advertise the beauties of Hawaii.

"I wish I could stay over here longer. Speaking as a photographer, aside from the many glorious subjects here, there is no place where I have been yet that offers such glorious climatic conditions, such wonderful cloud pictures as Hawaii. I am hoping for a great deal on my trip at Auckland and Sydney harbor besides the unknown beauties that lie farther ahead. Prints of all my successes will be sent back to San Francisco and ultimately exhibited in the call window of the Oceanic line."
The Hawaiian Star. (Honolulu), 23 January 1902.   
Library of Congress

Will Sue Vanniman
Photographer Will C. King files voluntary petition in bankruptcy, making a statement of his intention to sue Melvin Vanniman, the aerial photographer, for $5,000 for breach of contract alleging that he contracted with Vanniman for the sale of his photographs on Hawaii. He paid $600 for the agreement and turned over to Vanniman cameras and other material. It is said that Vanniman repudiated the contract, selling views through other agents. He also sold views copyrighted by King.

Kings total liabilities are given as $10,727.29. his assets as $10,931.39, inclulding his claim against Vanniman.

Evening Bulletin, (Honolulu), 20 October 1903.
Library of Congress.

Evening Bulletin (Honolulu), 12 December 1903. 
Library of Congress.

above and below - Vaniman's photographs were still being sold in Hawaii two years after his departure.

The Hawaiian Star. (Honolulu), 24 December 1903.  
Library of Congress.

In January 1904 three cases brought by Melvin Vaniman against Will C. King were dismissed by the Judge because attorneys did not answer when the cases were called.
The Hawaiian Star, (Honolulu), 4 January 1904.  
Library of Congress.

Largest Panoramic Photographs Ever Taken on One Plate
LASHED to the masthead of a ship, one hundred and thirty-five feet above the heaving sea. with the wind blowing a regular "shiver my timbers" gale, Melvin Vaniman, a plucky photographer of San Francisco, recently accomplished a triumph in securing the largest and most beautiful harbor-city view of Honolulu ever obtained. And thereby hangs a tale that is of interest to photographers and laymen alike.

Mr. Vaniman after years spent in experimenting, has reached a point in photography which has long been striven for unsuccessfully. He has succeeded in making a continuous panoramic picture 20 by 72 inches in size on one plate. The original sizes of the illustrations used in this article are 16 by 48 inches. The picture of Honolulu was taken from the top of a pole 107 feet high.


Vaniman's panoramic view of the Honolulu and the Iron Works in September 1901
The San Francisco Call, 08 Dec. 1901
Library of Congress

A stretch of city streets reaching from, the Emporium to the Hopkins Art Institute, was taken from the Leepalmer Building.
 The San Francisco Call, 08 Dec. 1901
Library of Congress

The other, showing a stretch of city streets reaching from, the Emporium to the Hopkins Art Institute, was taken from the Leepalmer building. They are taken on one plate, the camera lenses having been made from special designs in Germany. Until now these large photographs have always been taken in sections and joined together.

Mr. Vaniman followed up this method and used all of the various panorama cameras. In the joining process all negatives have to be printed exactly alike, the same time of exposure, etc., to make the whole picture perfect. He tried enlarging small negatives, but found that unsatisfactory. Then he set about making a camera of his own, finding that no ordinary one would achieve his object. Since then he has been through a maze of bolts and screws, shutters and lenses, and has made four cameras.

It took him three weeks to make the first one and with it only two successful pictures were made, in size 7 by 30 inches. Finding these somewhat defective, the camera was thrown aside and a second and larger machine started. This was torn to pieces at least six times, but, after much work, with it was made the most artistic photograph of the famous Pali, near Honolulu, ever produced. Mrs. Vaniman with the eye of an artist, has colored this picture, making it even more beautiful.

The camera used for these photographs is almost as large as a small trunk. At the time of making the picture of the Pali Captain Magee of the bark Battle Abbey, then at Honolulu, expressed a desire to accompany Mr. Vaniman up the rugged cliffs. He had climbed the Andes and Alps, but had heard from English travelers of the Pali, and wanted to try it.

He was a heavy man, and the method employed in ascending the Pali was not calculated to reassure him. The side of the cliff is covered with tangled vegetation and shrubs. The climbers made their toilsome way with a large iron hook secured to the end of a rope. This hook was thrown up as far as possible to catch a hold among the moss and shrubs and the explorers would then pull themselves up by the rope. This process, oft repeated, brought them at last to a ledge at an elevation of 500 feet
  Here the picture was taken, after some time spent in bringing around the doughty captain, who nearly collapsed from his exertions in breathing and climbing.

Mr. Vaniman became known in Honolulu as the "trapeze photographer," from the aerial methods to which he was often obliged to resort in securing his broadest picture effects. In taking a picture of the beach at Waikiki he built a three-cornered portable tower thirty feet high, somewhat like a windmill.

This was placed in position among the incoming waves and helped in giving the picture a depth not usually seen in such views. This tower cost $50 and only came into service on this one occasion.

But the most thrilling and melodramatic position into which, Mr. Vaniman's keen scent in the advancement of photography ever took him was when he spent two and a half hours rocking to and fro at the top of the tallest mast of the bark Gerard C. Tobey, waiting for the great masses of cloud to give the sun a chance, so that he might get the birdseye view for which he had risked his life and his limbs.

He tells of his success in the following entertaining way: "Well, I am a great "landlubber" you know, and I never was much of a climber. I never thought of climbing a mast before in my life. But, I wanted that view and it seemed to me that the masthead of that ship was the only place from which to get it. The captain offered me any part of the ship that I might want, but when he found that I was going to climb the mast he advised me not to do it. I tell you there were a grinning lot of sailors around when the procession of two started up through the rigging.

"I took the big box camera, and there was no grin on my face, I am sure. The captain was half way up the rigging before I got started. When I reached him he took the camera from me.

"I hung on and got over the rim of the foretop, wishing I was anywhere but where I was. I exemplified the next dizzy climb of over one hundred feet to the royal yard at the top. I didn't dare look anywhere else. The captain was sitting there unconcernedly hugging the camera. In a few moments more the sailors below had hoisted the yard to the eyes of the rigging, or mastheaded it, as they call it. A lower point would have been no good for the view, on account of the intervening ropes. Then the captain slid down again.

"I was alone, and my hair was standing on end — of course from the wind! I had a wad of good stout rope in my pocket and I lashed myself to the mast, a difficult one-handed sort of a job. I tied knots without number and the wind whistled around me and threatened to throw me out into space. My head was whirling; from the dizzy height, and my hat was gone. The pigmy-like figures of the sailors below seemed as far off as though in Africa, and the mast swayed back and forth with a qualmish motion that was awful!

"The big camera box bobbed about like a spool and threatened to fall, into the sea with every pitch. The royal yard wobbled fearfully beneath my feet, and I had to do a sort of sailor's horn pipe step with every lurch to keep my feet where they ought to be. I had a great time getting the camera into position. I supported it on a triangle which I lashed to the mast.

"The wind blew the cap from the lens and I had to use a piece of paper which I found in my pocket. Finally when I got it focused and all ready with the sun shining brightly, a great cloud sailed over the city. It threw the whole view into shadow, and, will you believe it? I had to wait up there two hours and a half, with the wind blowing at thirty five miles an hour, before I got a chance to press the lever and take the picture.

"To make sure, I went through the process three times, though with the greatest difficulty. It took one arm to hold on to the mast, and the other to take out the plate holders and replace them. The swaying of the mast rendered it almost impossible to keep the plate horizontal with the view and two of the plates were spoiled on this account. The third was a success.

"Good luck, I guess, got me down again safely. My nerves needed, and got, about two days in bed afterward. But I felt repaid with the results I got. If you want to take pictures, go up a ship's mast. You'll enjoy it."

Through a hornets' nest with a camera was another of Mr. Vaniman's explorations in search of the picturesque. He found it in large bunches.

He was on his way from Hilo to Waialuka to take a picture for the railway company, and with him was young Addison Mizner of San Francisco. The two were clambering up a side hill, carrying the camera, as big as a trunk, between them. The end of it struck what looked like a big mass of clay, but which turned out to be a hornets' nest in disguise. The air was filled with many things in less than a second. A flying camera, two flying men and hundreds of flying hornets! The lid came off the camera, the light got in it and no picture was taken that day.

Mr. Vaniman who starts on a tour of the world shortly, has just received a commission from General Warfield to make a panoramic view from the summit of Mount Tamalpais. Before his return the world at large will have contributed many beautiful scenes to his camera. Alfred Dezendorf.
The San Francisco Call, 8 December 1901
Library of Congress


1901 - 1902
Arrived San Francisco from Honolulu on the s.s. Sierra, 24 September 1901
 departed from San Francisco for Auckland via Honolulu on the Ventura, 17 January 1902

San Francisco - a stretch of city streets reaching from the Emporium to the Hopkins Art Institute, was taken from the Leepalmer Building.
 The San Francisco Call, 08 Dec. 1901
Library of Congress


New Zealand
 1902 - 1903
arrived Auckland, New Zealand 4 February 1902 on the "Ventura"
departed Auckland for Sydney, Australia 19 February 1903 on the "Ventura"

Star, Issue 7319, 4 February 1902, Page 3

Melvin Vaniman and his wife arrived in Auckland on 4 February 1902 as saloon passengers on the "Ventura".  The "Ventura" had sailed from San Francisco and arrived in Auckland via Honolulu and Pago Pago.

The windows of the Auckland Sunday School Union are at present most attractive, several very fine pictures of Hawaiian scenery being displayed. That they are appreciated is shown by the constant interested crowds that gather round the windows. The pictures are in reality coloured photographs. Mr Vaniman, who was sent to Honolulu by the Oceanic Company to take them, is at present in Auckland, and has received orders from the New Zealand Government to take some New Zealand scenery on similar lines.
Auckland Star, Volume XXXIII, Issue 47, 25 February 1902, Page 4

New Zealand is being visited by Mr. and Mrs. Melvin Vaniman, artist photographers, of Chicago and San Francisco. They are making a world's tour, for the purpose of preparing a unique exhibition of photographs, plain and coloured, for the St. Louis Exposition, which is to be held in 1903 [the planned opening in 1903 was delayed until 1904]. Mr. Vaniman already has some splendid panoramic pictures of Californian, Hawaiian, and New Zealand scenes. His pictures of Rotorua, printed direct by a new process of his own from a negative 3ft long, are the most striking and beautiful photographs we have seen. Mr. Vaniman says New Zealand is a lovely country for pictures, and he has his monster camera, constantly in use. It is his intention to get a panoramic picture of Wellington from the harbour. He has already taken a fine view of the city from a northern aspect.
Evening Post, Volume LXIII, Issue 80, 4 April 1902, Page 6 

The following newspaper article is from September 1903 but relates to Melvin Vaniman's visit to the Rotorua area in about April the previous year.

A Great Geyser.
Description by a Traveller   
Mr Melvin Vaniman, a world-travelling panoramic photographer, who recently spent 12 months in New Zealand, making immense photographs of the show places of the islands for the New Zealand  Government, was interviewed by a "Herald" representative in reference to the terrible disaster to four people at the great geyser at Waimangu. Mr. Vaniman photographed the geyser from a distance of half a mile, and has secured pictures which are in the highest degree instructive.

Mr Vaniman is an American, but, he says that the Waimangu Geyser absolutely surpasses the finest boiling springs in the Yellowstone region. He paid three visits to the Geyser.

On the first day he saw it shot its immense volume of boiling water, stones, and lava into the air to a height of 400ft, or 500ft. about 17 times. On the second occasion it spouted four times, and on the third a dozen times, one of the upward shots going about 800ft into the air. Mr.Vaniman was accompanied by Mr Donne, chief of the Tourist Department of New Zealand, and the guide Warbrick, who was with the ill-fated party that has just met such a terrible end.

What the tourist says of the place is interesting "The country," said Mr. Vaniman, "is all thermal and the Waimangu Geyser is the culminating grand scene in it. I have seen nothing like it in all my travels. I walked along the edge of the geyser the first time I visited it after an explosion, but I would not do it again Waimangu Geyser is the safety-valve of the whole district. It is a great funnel-shaped geyser which when quiet is full of dirty water. The lava and stones are at the bottom of the funnel, and when they have packed and wedged themselves tightly at the bottom they form a plug which stops the steam generating below from escaping. Then comes an explosion." 

"Is there any warning?"     

"No, there is no warning. The water rises up suddenly, and sometimes out from the main perpendicular shoot of water, stones, and ashes there is a sidelong spout which proves very dangerous to venturesome tourists"
"What size are the stones?"  
They are boulders ranging from pebbles to 100lb weight that are shot up. There are some around which a man cannot lift. The geyser was brought into existence when the great explosion at Tarawera wrecked the pink and white terraces. The country all round is covered with volcanic dust for miles. The tourists in this case were evidently on the dangerous side of the geyser Warbrick is a most careful man. He and two people were knocked down some time ago by one of the sidelong sprouts I mentioned. On a hill about 150ft. high on one side of the geyser there is a tourists' shelter hut. The roof of this is 4in. thick in order to afford protection from the falling stones. The cauldron is about 300ft. across." 

"Is this one of the geysers that can be excited?"

"No: no bars of soap or stones throw into the cauldron can make the geyser work. It shoots up its immense volume of water and other matters without the slightest warning. Sometimes there will be days when there are no explosions. Warbrick and Mr and Mrs Burston, of Melbourne, were knocked down by one shoot, so Warbrick must have used every effort to keep those people away from the dangerous spot. They were standing about 300ft. away when the accident happened to them."
The Sydney Morning Herald, 1 September 1903, page 5.

The Rotorua Museum has four Vaniman photographs in their collection:
1. A panorama of the Waimangu geyser erupting
2. Whakarewarewa
3. Government Gardens 
4. A view over Rotorua from Pukeora.

see Rotorua Museum - Melvin Vaniman’s Rotorua adventure - 16 January 2017

Looking East Across Thorndon And Wellington Harbour, NZ, 1902. Platinum photograph, hand-coloured panorama, dated "3.27.02" with photographer's line in negative lower right, 23.3 x 75.3cm.
Courtesy of Josef Lebovic Gallery, Kensington, Sydney, Australia

Wellington from the Tinakori Hills by Melvin Vaniman. 
Ref: PA6-425. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. 

Panoramic view of Wellington city and harbour, taken October 1902 by Melvin Vaniman. Inscribed - bottom right: Protected 4.10.'02 Melvin Vaniman San Francisco.
Vaniman, Melvin, 1866-1912 :Wellington. Ref: PA6-276. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22889693

The clever American photographer Mr Vanniman [sic] and his wife left yesterday morning for Sydney in the mailboat Ventura. Mr Vanniman [sic] is making a round trip, and taking photographic views of the places he visits for the purpose of making a collection of views for the St. Louis exhibition, to be held shortly. He called first at Honolulu, and then came on to Auckland, where he remained a few days, and then proceeded South to take views of New Zealand scenery, returning to Auckland to catch the Ventura on Monday. His movements beyond Sydney are not yet known, but he will probably cross over to Japan, and return to America after securing views in the East.
Auckland Star, Volume XXXIII, Issue 84, 10 April 1902, Page 4

Mr and Mrs Vaniman are shown in the newspaper passenger list as being passengers on the Ventura which departed Auckland for Sydney on about 9 April 1902 [5]. However they are not shown as passengers on this vessel when it arrived in Sydney. A week later they are shown in Wellington:

The weekly concert at the Sailors' Rest was held last evening.. Instrumental and vocal items were given by Mrs. Vaniman, Miss White, Messrs. Vaniman, Hendry, Bastin, Neville, Carr, and Watts. Miss Maginnity and Miss Alice Maginnity played the accompaniments.

 Evening Post, Volume LXIII, Issue 90, 16 April 1902, Page 5

A splendid panoramic photograph of Wellington and its harbour has just been taken by Mr. Melvin Vaniman, of San Francisco. The picture, which is taken from one negative, is one of the largest direct photographs ever taken by a camera, being 4ft long and 16in deep. The panorama extends from Petone to Newtown, and includes the whole harbour out to the Heads, with a great amount of detail over the centre, which covers the city back to Tiriakori-road. As is the case with all of Mr. Vaniman's pictures, the atmosphere and the sky give a beautiful effect to the whole picture The photograph is attracting much attention in town.
Evening Post, Volume LXIII, Issue 90, 16 April 1902, Page 4

Mr. Vaniman, the expert photographer from America, some of whose picture work about Wellington has been the subject of much admiration, is providing a series of views of the colony's show places, for the Government, to be used in connection with the work of the Tourist Department.
Evening Post, Volume LXIII, Issue 96, 23 April 1902, Page 5 

 Melvin Vaniman climbing a pole to take a panoramic photograph of the Canterbury Frozen Meat Company's works at Belfast, Christchurch, circa May 1902. 
Photographer unidentified.
Ref: 1/1-023051-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. 

Mr Melvin Vaniman, who has been commissioned by the Government to execute a set of 12 photographs of the colony for the purposes of the Tourist Department, is at present in Dunedin, and has afforded us an opportunity of inspecting examples of the work he has already done. It may be mentioned in terms of unreserved commendation. Mr Vaniman is the inventor of a panoramic camera the use of which enables him to take, at one operation, photographs that are of a particularly large size and that embrace a particularly extensive area. The size of the photographs with which he is to supply the Government is 48in by 16in, and an idea of their character may be formed from the fact that the picture of Wellington, taken from the hillside behind the Tinakori road, extends from Petone on one side to Island Bay and beyond on the other; for, on a glimpse of the sea that is included in the picture, may be detected a sailing vessel that, at a modest calculation, was distant 20 miles from the camera. Mr Vaniman includes in his "set" of photographs representations of the principal cities of the colony, of scenic and health resorts, and of leading industries of the country. The views he takes will be included in a photographic display he proposes to make at the St. Louis Exposition of 1903.
Otago Witness, Issue 2512, 7 May 1902, Page 54

A large coloured photographic picture of the Sanatorium Grounds at Rotorua, by Mr Vaniman, the American artist, now in the colony, is on view at the entrance to the Government Tourist Office, Queen-st.
Auckland Star, Volume XXXIII, Issue 109, 9 May 1902, Page 1

Down in Maoriland
C. Melvin Vaniman is Performing Great Feats
"Free Lance" Tell of Work
Reference to Addison Mizner
and Hornets' Nest Episode.
If for no other reason. C. Melvin Vaniman, formerly connected with King Brothers' art store on Hotel street, will be remembered by the great cameras which he succeeded in manufacturing and operating successfully in this city. His pictures of marine views about Honolulu have become the wonder and admiration of the people here and abroad, and from recent letters and notices in papers from various parts of New Zealand, he is making a great reputation for himself in the land of the Maoris. This is what the "Free Lance" of Wellington, N.Z., has to say of the photographer:

C. Melvin Vaniman, when he is on terra firma, is a medium sized American, with an amused expression and a four foot camera. He is in Wellington just now, making pictures up to six feet long, and his photographs are perhaps the finest specimens of landscape work this country has seen. He is full of anecdote and enthusiasm, and if there's a ship in harbor whose skys'l yard is away up nearer heaven than any other in port. Melvin gets hauled up, and takes a snapshot of twenty or thirty miles of country with the biggest plate in the world. He had never heard of New Zealand a short time since, but he dropped on a little book in a hotel in Honolulu, saying there was scenery here. That settled it.

C. Melvin Vaniman chartered a big lorry, and got his machine on board an "Spreckels" right then. There were twelve Americans on board that boat looking for scenery, and not one (except himself) landed in Auckland. They were going to Australia looking for landscape. The San Francisco photographer is glad he came. He gets better pictures in New Zealand than he does at home or in Honolulu, and Wellington makes the finest picture of the lot. If he cannot get a boat with a high topmast, he gets a pole erected instead. In Honolulu a person who wanted a photograph of his ironworks put up a pole 107 feet high, and the aerial artist got his four-foot negative from near the top of it.

There is now a big enough camera in New Zealand to effectively photograph the possessor of the largest kind of swelled head. Gentlemen of upwards of twenty stone may stand on Mount Victoria, and Mr. Vaniman will snap them off from the skys'l yard of a man-o'-war. He'll get them in somehow. It took twenty horses and a stage coach to carry Vaniman and his camera from Taupo to Wanganui. At least, he was the only passenger. Sometimes, he has adventures. At Honolulu, he wanted to make a picture of the crater Kilauea, and Addison Mizner, the local Beau Brummel, was dying to go too. Would Addison M,help drag the machine? "Why, certainly." And he dragged it through a hornet's nest!

The landscape, like the resultant photograph, was extremely picturesque. Mrs. Vaniman, who is an artist, travels with her husband and his gigantic photographs. She colors these photographs until they look like the most exquisite water colors. Mr. Vaniman finds that the New Zealand people are very hospitable. He is having a "right royal time," and he guesses he will stay right along for a further spell until he gathers all the beauty spots of New Zealand within the scope of his portfolio.

The Evening Post of Wellington has this to say:
New Zealand is being visited by Mr. and Mrs. Melvin Vaniman, artist photographers, of Chicago and San Francisco. They are making a world's tour, for the purpose of preparing a unique exhibition or photographs, plain and  colored, for the St Louis Exposition, which is to be held in 1903. Mr. Vaniman already has some splendid panoramic pictures of California. Hawaiian, and New Zealand scenes. His pictures of Rotorua, printed direct by a new process of his own from a negative three feet long, are the most striking and beautiful photographs we have seen. Mr. Vaniman says New Zealand is a lovely country for pictures, and he has his monster camera constantly in use. It is his intention to get a panoramic picture of Wellington from the harbor. He has already taken a fine view of the city from a northern aspect.

Evening Bulletin. (Honolulu), 13 May 1902.
Library of Congress

Mr. Melvin Vaniman has just been commissioned by the Government to execute a set of twelve photographs of the colony for the purposes of the Tourist Department, and we have had the pleasure of inspecting one of his pictures at Messrs. R. and E. Tingey's establishment. The picture is a panoramic view of Wellington, of a particularly extensive character, taken from the hillside behind Tinakori road. The view extends from Petone on one side to Island Bay and beyond on the other. The photograph is 48 x 16, and is framed in a nice reeded oak, with a large bevelled oak slip, the whole making a nice picture. We understand that there is only a limited number, and Messrs. R. and E. Tingey are now taking orders.
Wanganui Chronicle, Volume XXXXVII, Issue 11653, 22 May 1902, Page 4

Messrs. Orr and Lodder, the proprietors of the Bellevue Gardens, are making their picture spot very widely known. The "Canterbury Times" this week contains a double page of magnificent views of the gardens, and an article by Mr. James Muir, of Wellington, who will be best remembered as a hydropathic specialist, formerly resident at Te Aroha and Rotorua. The views, the finest of which is from the camera of the American photographer, Vaniman, are quite the best that have been produced of the Bellevue Gardens.
Free Lance, Volume III, Issue 111, 16 August 1902, Page 8

New Zealand Graphic.
Issued To-morrow
... The chief attraction is, however, superb art supplement, huge panoramic picture, 42 inches by 13½ inches:

with other scenes, from the fine photo by Vanniman. This superb production is a companion, picture to our famous panorama of Makohine Viaduct, which created such a sensation, and for which we still receive orders weekly. Mr. Vanniman's photograph is, as everyone knows, the largest and finest ever taken of the New Zealand Rhine. To it have been added a series of views by Denton, the whole making A UNIQUE PRODUCTION. Orders must he sent in promptly, as the number is bound to sell out immediately this picture is seen, and no further edition of the "Graphic" can. be issued. 

Auckland Star, Volume XXXV, Issue 81, 5 April 1904, Page 5

The Wanganui at Pipiriki by Melvin Vaniman, 1902-1903
Courtesy of Clark Mills


Looking West To Taupo Quay, Wanganui, NZ,
1902. Platinum photograph, panorama, dated “3.30.02” with photographer’s line in negative lower
right, 23.8 x 77.1cm.

Courtesy of Josef Lebovic Gallery, Kensington, Sydney, Australia

Vaniman, Melvin, 1866-1912. Robieson, Mrs, fl 1959 :Photograph of Makohine Viaduct, Rangitikei district, taken by Melvin Vaniman. 
Ref: 1/2-018857-F. 
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. 

Wellington, September 10.
Sailed — Mapourika, for Picton, Nelson. and West Coast.
Passengers for Nelson -
Misses Richmond, Lucas, Holdaway,
Mesdames McDougall, Miles. Richmond Capt. Walker, Hon Marshall,
Messrs Danks, McNair. Knowles McDougall, Vaniman, Lavinham, Elliott, Findlay, Tendall,
Masters Reece(2), Hoare (2), and 10 steerage for all ports.

Colonist, Volume XLV, Issue 10511, 11 September 1902, Page 1


Four of Mr Vaniman's panoramic photographs, depicting Wellington, Lake Wakatipu, the Bluff, and Dunedin, have been received by the local representative (Mr W. R. Blow) of the Tourist Department, and will be on view at the local office of the department shortly.
Press, Volume LIX, Issue 11380, 17 September 1902, Page 7

Port of New  Plymouth
Departed 18 September 1902 on the Ngapuhi for Onehunga - Mr and Mrs Vanniman.
Taranaki Herald, Volume L, Issue 12076, 19 September 1902, Page 2

Port of Onehunga
Arrived 20 September from New Plymouth on the Ngapuhi - Mr and Mrs Vanniman.

New Zealand Herald, Volume XXXIX, Issue 12076, 20 September 1902, Page 4 

Mr Melvin Vaniman, the now well known American photograph artist, is on a visit to the Thames, for the purpose of taking a view of the Thames township and surroundings. He has been at Te Aroha on behalf of the Government, taking views of the Hot Springs Domain. His camera takes a picture 48 inches by 16, and within marvellous exactness. He has taken, many views of Rotorua for the Government Tourist Department.

Some pictures taken by him in the Hawaiian Islands show in every detail the characteristics of the country, and give an excellent idea of the town of Honolulu and surroundings. One American view of the great canyon of the Colorada, colored on the spot, show one of the most remarkable districts in that land of wonders. A canyon 6000 feet deep, which has taken the water of the river untold ages to cut out, has to be seen for the mind to realize anything like an idea of its vastness. Mr Vaniman's picture goes a great way to help one to grasp some of its features. The picture is 48 inches by 16 deep. The grand canyon is 217 feet in length, through which flows the Colorada river. The wall's of the gorge are composed of black gueiss.

Thames Star, Volume XXXX, Issue 10455, 29 September 1902, Page 2

Mr Vaniman, an American photographer, on a visit to this colony, returned to Auckland to-day from Te Aroha, where he has been taking photographs for the Tourist Department.
Auckland Star, Volume XXXIII, Issue 232, 30 September 1902, Page 6

A quantity of the beautiful pictorial post cards which have been prepared by the Tourist Department are shortly to arrive for the booksellers of the city, from whom they may then be obtained by the public at one penny each. The cards bear views of a great number of the beauty spots of the colony, and are likely to become fashionable.
Auckland Star, Volume XXXIII, Issue 232, 30 September 1902, Page 6

Te Anau, s.s., 1652, J. Berneck, for the South. Passengers: ... Messrs ...  Vaniman.

Auckland Star, Volume XXXIII, Issue 236, 4 October 1902, Page 4

At the last meeting of the Te Aroha Domain Board there was an absurd outburst against the desecration of the Sabbath, in connection with the taking of photos and band playing. The camera man must surely have come to hear of it. On Saturday the secretary of the Board received the following wire from Mr Vaniman, who was recently at Thames:— "The better the day the better the picture. The photos are perfect."
Ohinemuri Gazette, Volume XII, Issue 1015, 8 October 1902, Page 2


Mr Malvin Vaniman, the American photographer, who has been engaged by the New Zealand Tourist Department to photograph the scenic beauties of the colony, is now in Auckland. He will shortly leave for the Hot Lake region and Te Aroha, for the purpose of procuring views of these places.
Grey River Argus, Volume 57, Issue 10520, 10 October 1902, Page 4


Departed Lyttelton 13 October 1902 on the ss Penguin for Wellington
Mr Vanewin [sic]

Press, Volume LIX, Issue 11403, 14 October 1902, Page 6

Arrivals at Wellington from Lyttelton
October 14 per ss Penquin ... Mr Vaniman

Evening Post, Volume LXIV, Issue 91, 14 October 1902, Page 4

You know Vaniman, the American photographer who takes a four-feet picture? He is away up at Te Aroha, taking photographs for the Government. The whole of the pious persons in that little sulphurous town are wildly incensed because Melvin took pictures on Sunday, the only day during the month that was fine. One of the members of the Domain Board was so dreadfully annoyed that a person could be so sinful (his sin being measured by the size of his photograph), that he tendered his resignation. Of course, the Domain people will quit charging admission on Sundays after this.

Free Lance, Volume III, Issue 120, 18 October 1902, Page 6

Arrivals at Nelson from Picton and Wellington October 19 per ss Wainui ... Mr Vaniman.

Colonist, Volume XLV, Issue 10544, 20 October 1902, Page 1

Works of Art - There are four pictures on view at the local office of the Tourist Department which will well repay a visit. They are photographs taken by Mr Melvin Vaniman, the American photographer whose wonderful work haa so recently excited admiration all over the colony. Mr Vaniman is an artist of rare quality. This group of pictures comprises Lake Wakatipu, Wellington, Bluff, and the Government Sanatorium at Rotorua. The views are about four feet in length and fifteen inches high, and are shown to advantage in massive frames. The two first mentioned pictures will be picked out at once as the favourites. The cloud effects are remarkably fine, and in the lake view the extent of the photograph will be understood when it is mentioned that the huge stretch of water and mountain is included between the Crown Ranges on the left and Mount Nicholas on the right, and yet the details are clear and distinct, even the gentle ripples on the lake's surface being reproduced. The pictures are open to inspection and are well worth seeing.

Southland Times, Issue 17073, 23 October 1902, Page 2

Our Scenery. The Tourist Department recently arranged with Mr Vaniman, of San Francisco, to go to Picton and Nelson to take views of those places with his large cameras, and I am informed that excellent pictures were obtained. Mr Vaniman's panoramic photographs are well-known throughout the Colony and abroad. With the object of still advertising the scenery of the Sounds, the Department have also arranged to send their own photographer to take a further series of smaller views of the Sounds. Pelorus Guardian.

Colonist, Volume XLVI, Issue 10547, 23 October 1902, Page 2

s. s. Sonoma arrived at Honolulu 12 November 1902 from San Francisco - passengers included C. Vaniman [Calvin Vaniman].
Evening Bulletin. (Honolulu), 12 Nov. 1902.  Library of Congress. 

Arrived Auckland 21 November 1902 on the RMS Sonoma from San Francisco, Honolulu and Pago Pago - C. Vaniman [Calvin Vaniman].
New Zealand Herald, Volume XXXIX, Issue 12141, 11 December 1902, Page 3

Port of Onehunga
Departed c. 19 December 1902 on the Ngapuhi for New Plymouth - Mr Vanniman.
New Zealand Herald, Volume XXXIX, Issue 12148, 19 December 1902, Page 4

In Timaru

On Saturday afternoon a mast, 100 feet high, was erected at the back of the Harbour Board office, standing up about 150 yards off the main wharf. This mast-head has been put up by Mr Vaniman, who intends taking a photograph of the harbour for the Timaru Harbour Board. Mr Vaniman, who hails from Chicago, has taken numerous photos for the Government, and he possesses a camera of his own invention which will take in a view from on the top of his lofty perch that will include the end of the main wharf to the Custom House in the picture. If the weather is favourable, Mr Vaniman intends taking the photographs at 9 o'clock this morning.
Timaru Herald, Volume LXXVIII, Issue 11957, 5 January 1903, Page 2

Mr Vaniman, whose tall camera-stand erected in the Harbour Office yard has already been mentioned, yesterday morning took two or three photographs of the harbour and its surroundings from the vantage point of the 100 ft of elevation his mast gives him. He also took panoramic views of the town from the Harbour Master's flagstaff. Mr Vaniman uses a special camera of his own devising, which enables him to take pictures of quite unusual dimensions, the largest being about four feet long by sixteen inches wide. The developed pictures will be on view in a day or two.

Timaru Herald, Volume LXXVIII, Issue 11958, 6 January 1903, Page 2

There are now on view in one of Mr J. Radcliffe's show windows half a dozen specimens of Mr Vaniman's beautiful and remarkable photographs, taken from high points, such as the tall mast he carries with him, from hills, or the masts of vessels in port.

Four of these are large ones, about 4ft long, these being views of Wellington, Dunedin, Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown, and the Bluff; the smaller being bits of Auckland and Waiwera, one of the townships in the Hot Lakes district.

The photographs are wonderfully distinct in both foreground and background, and apparently give a very correct perspective idea of the scenes they represent. Three of them have been coloured with watercolours the colouring in one case has not been too well done, but in the case of Wellington and Bluff the effect is very pleasing.

The picture of Lake Wakatipu is a very fine one, indeed the most desirable of all perhaps. These pictures have been handsomely framed for the purchaser by Mr Radcliffe. They attracted a good deal of attention last evening, and the window will be shuttered to a great extent to-day by people stopping to admire them.

Timaru Herald, Volume LXXVIII, Issue 11962, 10 January 1903, Page 2

Arrivals at Wellington from Lyttelton 11 January 1903 per ss Rotomahana ... Mr Vaniman.

Evening Post, Volume LXV, Issue 9, 12 January 1903, Page 4


Mr. Vaniman's Photographs.
The secretary of the Harbour Board has received some of the 50 copies of the panoramic photographs ordered from Mr Vaniman the other day, which were taken from a high pole erected on the beach. The photograph measures 30 inches by ten, and takes in the field from the outer end of the eastern mole on one side to the rear of the harbour offices on the other, a sweep of nearly a semicircle. The shape and area of the harbour, and the relation of the walls to each other and to the railways and the town are very well brought out, and the nature of the photograph gives a better idea of the size of the harbour than any previously taken, this effect being increased by the picture of the ship Oamaru lying at a buoy in the north-west corner. It is unfortunate, perhaps, that there were no vessels lying at the Main wharf at the time the picture was taken but the absence of vessels makes more prominent the details of the railways on the wharf and the lighting arrangements. Two trains of stone are seen on the eastern mole staging, and the big dredge is seen at work outside.

A prominent feature of the picture is the steep clay bank back of the railway at the foot of the harbour, and D. C. Turnbull's office, the Customhouse and the Harbour office come out clearly; the C.F.C.A. new store, and the Empire Hotel up Strathallan street less distinctly. Caroline Bay is well shown, as far as its shape is concerned, but beyond it the view is too small for much detail to come out clearly, and the picture was taken on a rather dull day.

The freezing works are visible, but that is all. This is certainly by far the most instructive picture that has yet been taken of the harbour. Copies of it are to be sent to the institutions where merchants and shipmasters most do congregate in London, Liverpool, Glasgow, South African and Australian ports, New Zealand Harbour Boards and Government Departments, the publisher of the Admiralty charts, the Admiral on the Australian station, etc.

Timaru Herald, Volume LXXVIII, Issue 11970, 20 January 1903, Page 2

Sixteen photographs, depicting the interesting scenic wonders of the North Island thermal district, have been received at the local agency of the Tourist Department. The pictures were taken by Mr Vanniman [sic] of San Francisco, who recently visited the colony, and have been tastefully framed.
Press, Volume LX, Issue 11496, 31 January 1903, Page 7

Mr W. Saunders, local agent of the Government Tourist Bureau, has received a fine collection of extended photographs, taken by Mr Vaniman, of San Francisco, by arrangement with the New Zealand Government.

Among the dozen or so received four deserve special mention for their particular beauty and finish, viz., extended photographs of the Bluff, Wellington, Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown, and a coloured photo of the Government sanatorium, Rotorua.

To anyone who is familiar with Queenstown and the Lake it must be a matter of astonishment that a camera could compass such a stretch of scenery and reproduce it with such faithfulness. A number of other views were received, they are on a reduced scale, but never the less reflect much credit on the photographer. All the pictures are handsomely framed, and form a very agreeable addition to the decorations of the Tourist office.

Southland Times, Issue 18065, 7 February 1903, Page 2

There are on view in the local Tourist Office some magnificent views of New Zealand scenery, which are calculated to give tourists a foretaste of the beauties of our colony. These are by Mr Vanimon [sic], of San Francisco, and include the 
Champagne Pool, Wairakei; 
Wanganui River, 
Ketetaki Sulphur Springs, Tongariro; 
Boiling Water, Lake Rotomahana; 
Frying Pan Flat, near Waimangu Geyser; 
and also splendid panoramic pictures of Lake Wakatipu, Bluff, and Wellington.
Otago Witness, Issue 2552, 11 February 1903, Page 48

Albert Park, Auckland. Jack [Mr] :Panoramas by Melvin Vaniman. 
Ref: PA9-101. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. 

 Auckland by Melvin Vaniman. 
Ref: PA6-542. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

If you have seen a man with a portfolio six feet long, and a smile of lesser magnitude, dodging about the streets of Wellington, don't inform the police that a Russian spy is in town getting plans of the gate on the Point Halswell-road.

The man who dare not go round a windy corner, without holding on and navigating carefully, is Mr. W. F. Kennedy and in that portfolio he has the finest specimens of photographic art ever snapped from a mountain or gathered from a ship's mast.

Mr. Melvin Vaniman, who is responsible for the photographs, is away in Sydney now, but he has left Mr. Kennedy behind to sell the four-feet pictures. If Mr. Kennedy does not sell them, then artistic instinct does not exist in the souls of Wellingtonians.

 Mr. Vaniman has no opposition, for there is no photographer in New Zealand who takes a perfect four or six feet picture on one plate. Mr. Vaniman recently took a couple of yards of photograph of Auckland and he had a pole put up in that city that was 125 feet above sea level. Have you seen that photograph? It is a poem that will run into several editions, and take a good deal of wall space to give it effective exhibition. Mr. Vaniman, after doing Australia, goes to England, where he will gather up British sceney in large lengths.
Free Lance, Volume III, Issue 142, 21 March 1903, Page 3

A remarkably fine panoramic view of Whakarewarewa (Rotorua) by Melvin Vaniman is being shown in Messrs Shierlaw's window. In the taking of this picture a revolving camera was used, so that the unsightly joins usually so noticeable in such pictures are avoided. The cloud effects are very fine, and the artist was fortunate getting his view when most of the geysers were playing. Photographic connoisseurs will be delighted with this picture, and all who admire good work should make a point of seeing it.
Poverty Bay Herald, Volume XXX, Issue 9744, 15 May 1903, Page 3

Timaru Harbour Board
A number of London shipping firms, the Agent-General, and others, wrote acknowledging receipt of copies of Vaniman photos ...

Timaru Herald, Volume LXXIX, Issue 12105, 27 June 1903, Page 4

He [Vaniman] holds gold medals from the St. Louis Exposition for the best photographic exhibit, a set of views of New Zealand made on a Government commission.

The New York Times, October 16, 1910

Melvin Vaniman departed for Sydney on the "Ventura" 19 February 1903
New Zealand Herald, Volume XL, Issue 12211, 5 March 1903, Page 3

Mrs. Vaniman and her brother-in-law Mr. C. Vaniman departed Auckland for Sydney about 4 June 1903 on the "Sonoma" [as Mrs M. Vanniman and Mr C. Vanniman].
New Zealand Herald, Volume XL, Issue 12288, 4 June 1903, Page 4

Smithy's air conquest of the Atlantic recalls a man whom M.A.T. [Man About Town] is glad to have hobnobbed with when flying was a new thing and extremely brave fellows were willing to blaze the trail in imperfect machines and to leave their bones in doing it. Melvin Vaniman an American man, came to New Zealand with his wife and a camera about four feet square. Melvin used to clamber up the highest mast or the highest building, haul up his machine; and take terrific panoramic pictures of the surrounding country. He awarded one of these gigantic photographs to M. A T. for no ostensible reason, and it is still largely extant. Vaniman told M.A.T. that he would love to fly and that he would some day fly the Atlantic. He essayed the task. He hadn't the luck nor the machine Smithy had.
Auckland Star, Volume LXI, Issue 150, 27 June 1930, Page 6

 Melvin Vaniman
Illustrated London News, Issue 3731, October 22, 1910, page. 613. 


 1903 - 1904 
arrived Sydney, Australia from Auckland, New Zealand 23 February 1903 on the "Ventura"[1]
departed Sydney, Australia for Liverpool 13 May 1904 on the "Suevic" [2]

Melvin Vaniman, the Chicago gentleman who travelled around with a photographic camera like a drummer's box of samples, and who climbed ships' mainmasts in order to shoot off a city or a landscape, is very much in the public eye just now in Sydney. He swore an American oath to bring the whole city and the beautiful harbour into one picture. It has taken him nearly a year to complete the contract. But, he has got ahead of it all right. He couldn't get up high enough with his camera, and so he sent home to 'Murika for a balloon. It came to hand all right, but the swaying of his air-ship beat him. So he set to work to design and build a camera that would beat the balloon. It has come off all right. With his patent mid-air camera he went up in his balloon, 600 ft. above the Crow's Nest, North Sydney and 900ft above sea level, and came down with his panoramic picture. It is believed he will snap off the moon next if he can get within cooey of the man thereof.
Free Lance, Volume IV, Issue 201, 7 May 1904, Page 12 

Panorama of Sydney from North Shore, 1903 by Melvin Vaniman
Digital Order No. a113001
Call No. DL Pg 42
State Library of New South Wales

Panorama of Sydney Town Hall and Queen Victoria Building, 1904 by Melvin Vaniman
Digital Order No. a113002
Call No. DL Pg 44

 State Library of New South Wales 

Panorama of Darling Island and Harbour, looking towards the city, 1903 by Melvin Vaniman
Digital Order No. a113003
Call No. DL Pg 26

 State Library of New South Wales 

Panorama of Walsh Bay and Millers Point, 1904 by Melvin Vaniman
Digital Order No. a113004
Call No. DL Pg 45

 State Library of New South Wales 

Panorama of Bennelong Point, Circular Quay and Dawes Point, 1904 by Melvin Vaniman
Digital Order No. a113005
Call No. DL Pg 23

 State Library of New South Wales 

Panorama of Garden Island and Woolloomooloo Bay, 1904 by Melvin Vaniman
Digital Order No. a113006
Call No. DL Pg 37

  State Library of New South Wales 

Panorama of Circular Quay from a ship's mast, 1903 by Melvin Vaniman
Digital Order No. a113007
Call No. DL Pg 22

 State Library of New South Wales 

Panorama of Palace Gardens and Farm Cove, 1903 by Melvin Vaniman
Digital Order No. a113008
Call No. DL Pg 40

 State Library of New South Wales 

Panorama of Test Cricket at the Sydney Cricket Ground, 1903 by Melvin Vaniman
Digital Order No. a113009
Call No. DL Pg 35

 State Library of New South Wales 

Panorama of Manly Water Chute and Toboggan, 1903 by Melvin Vaniman
Digital Order No. a113010
Call No. DL Pg 31

 State Library of New South Wales 

Panorama of Sydney from a balloon, 1904 by Melvin Vaniman
Digital Order No. a113011
Call No. DL Pg 43

 State Library of New South Wales 

Panorama of Government Stud farm, Coolangatta Estate, Berry, 1904 by Melvin Vaniman
Digital Order No. a113012
Call No. DL Pg 29

 State Library of New South Wales 

Panorama of Harvesting wheat on Brundah Station, Grenfell, 1903 by Melvin Vaniman
Digital Order No. a113013
Call No. DL Pg 21

 State Library of New South Wales 

Panorama of Harvesting wheat, Narramine Station, Narromine, 1903 by Melvin Vaniman
Digital Order No. a113014
Call No. DL Pg 34

 State Library of New South Wales 

Panorama of Fitzroy Vale Station near Rockhampton, 1904 by Melvin Vaniman
Digital Order No. a113015
Call No. DL Pg 28

  State Library of New South Wales 

Panorama of the intersection of Collins and Queen Streets, Melbourne, 1903 by Melvin Vaniman
Digital Order No. a113016
Call No. DL Pg 25

 State Library of New South Wales 

Panorama of Melbourne Cup, Flemington, 1903 by Melvin Vaniman
Digital Order No. a113017
Call No. DL Pg 33

 State Library of New South Wales 

Panorama of Newcastle from the Dyke, 1904 by Melvin Vaniman
Digital Order No. a113018
Call No. DL Pg 36

 State Library of New South Wales 

Panorama of Stony Creek Falls, Queensland, 1903 by Melvin Vaniman
Digital Order No. a113019
Call No. DL Pg 39

 State Library of New South Wales 

Panorama of Blue Mountains scenery at Leura, 1903 by Melvin Vaniman
Digital Order No. a113020
Call No. DL Pg 27

 State Library of New South Wales 

Panorama of Katoomba from atop a pole, 1903 by Melvin Vaniman
Digital Order No. a113021
Call No. DL Pg 30

 State Library of New South Wales 

Sydney Cricket Ground football match, 1903 by Melvin Vaniman
Digital Order No. a113022
Call No. DL Pg 41

 State Library of New South Wales 

Sailed from Hobart on the Mahinapua for Strahan 13 May 1903
The Mercury (Hobart), 14 May 1903 page 4

Arrived at Hobart from Sydney on the Anglican 4 February 1904, Messrs "Vaniman, D. Vaniman"
The Mercury (Hobart), 5 February 1904 page 3

Queenstown, Tasmania, 1903 by Melvin Vaniman
Archives Office of Tasmania

In 1906 A. W. Birchall & Sons advertised a series of three panoramic photographs taken  by Vaniman in Tasmania, they were titled, Launceston from Cataract Hill, First Basin in Flood and First Basin and Cliff Grounds. 
Examiner (Launceston), 27 January 1906 page 6

about 1905

Two splendid panoramic photographs of Rome have just been received from Mr. Vaniman, and are to be seen at Messrs. John Sands. It will be remembered that Mr. Vanlman (sic) took the now famous balloon view of Sydney. One view of Rome is taken from a balloon, and people who have visited that city will be able to pick out the places of interest in the photograph. The other view shows the ruins of the Roman Forum in the foreground, and in the distance the ruins of the Coliseum can he distinctly seen.
The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW), 4 November 1905 page 12

[1] The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 February 1903 page 6
[2] The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 May 1904, page 6
[3] "United States Census, 1880," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MXVL-WTD : accessed 23 Nov 2013), Chester Vaniman in household of Geo. Vaniman, Virden, Macoupin, Illinois, United States; citing sheet 378D, family 2, NARA microfilm publication T9-0232
[4]  Illinois Deaths and Stillbirths, 1916-1947, index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/N3F7-3ML : accessed 23 Nov 2013), Louisa Vaniman, 30 Aug 1922.
[5] Auckland Star, Volume XXXIII, Issue 83, 9 April 1902, Page 4