John Jabez Edwin Mayall

Dates1813 - 1901
RolesPhotographer, Daguerreotypist
BornManchester, England
DiedLondon, England

After serving as the proprietor of a daguerreotype studio and a chemistry lecturer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, John Jabez Edwin Mayall relocated to London in 1846. He promptly obtained a daguerreotypist's license from Richard Beard, who at that time held the patent for the process in England. In April 1847 Mayall opened the American Daguerreotype Institution in London, explicitly naming it American because American daguerreotypes were known for greater clarity and polish and were of a larger size.

Mayall became renowned as a portraitist; within his first three years in England, he photographed Sir John Herschel, Sir David Brewster, and Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre. At the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, held in the Crystal Palace in 1851, he introduced a technique he had perfected: the popular vignetted portrait, in which the sitter's head appears in focus while the surroundings gradually become less distinct. In 1855 Mayall sold the American Daguerreotype Institution and began to mass produce cartes-de-visite, small, calling-card-size photographs that were inexpensive to make, easily exchanged, and extremely popular. In 1860 Mayall published a carte-de-visite album of the British Royal Family; he reportedly sold 60,000 sets of these photographs.