W. Irving Adams

Photographer Unknown

CountryUnited States


JournalThe Photographic Times 1896

AtelierNone Listed


View Additional Information & Tags

Engraved Biographical Text, Men of Mark, Photography, Portrait: Men


Image Dimensions: February
Support Dimensions: 28.6 x 21.2 cm

Associated Highlights:

The Photographic Times: 1871-1915: a definitive American photographic Journal

Washington Irving Adams (1832-1896) was the founder of The Photographic Times and President of the Scovill & Adams Company. His passing was duly noted with a deserved and lengthy tribute in the February, 1896 issue of the journal, where his portrait, shown here, was reproduced as a fine collotype frontis plate. The following is the remembrance in full:


Our founder has gone to his rest. Blessings go with him!
Washington Irving Adams, founder of this magazine, President of the Scovill & Adams Company since its incorporation, and a leading figure for many years in everything pertaining to photography, was suddenly called Home, Friday afternoon, at five o’clock, January second, at “Irvingcroft,” his residence in Montclair, New Jersey, by apoplexy.
Mr. Adams had not been in good health for nearly a year, and, as a consequence, had for the most part, during 1895, passed his time quietly at his beautiful country home in Montclair. We had, therefore, grown somewhat accustomed to his closed desk and empty chair, though aware of his continual kindly interest in the affairs of this magazine and the Company which he has so long and so faithfully directed.
But the end comes to us as a great shock. We are stunned, stupefied, and at a loss for words. We, his associates, who have known him longest and best, and loved him most, can but bow our heads in speechless grief at this time. We lay this tribute to his cherished memory on the tomb.

He was good to us. He was a born leader of men. A natural leader, who endears while he commands. He asked no one to do what he was not ever ready to do himself. He labored with us. He was our trusted friend as well as our respected chief. Though his failing health compelled him during the past year to leave the details of active management to his trusted son, and though, as a consequence, there will be no outward change in affairs or management by his removal, we are nevertheless conscious of a sense of personal loss, which time cannot efface.

W. Irving Adams was a successful man in the largest sense. He was, moreover, a “self-made” man, as the saying goes. Entering the service of the Scovill Manufacturing Company, in 1858, in a subordinate position, he rapidly rose through successive grades of responsibilities, by virtue of his own merits, until, in 1878, he became Agent of the company with entire charge of the business in New York. In the same year he was elected a director of this honored old company, a position he has filled ever since. In 1875 he became President of S. Peck & Co., manufacturers of photographic apparatus, at New Haven, Conn., which had previously come under the control of the Scovill Manufacturing Company.
In 1889, when the Scovill & Adams Company succeeded to the photographic business of the Scovill Manufacturing Company, he was made President, Treasurer, and Manager of the new corporation; and again, last year, when the Scovill & Adams Company of New York was organized, he became President of that corporation.

In these positions Mr. Adams has been too well known wherever photography is practiced, either for profit or pleasure, to require any word from us.
During the 1876 Centennial, at Philadelphia, he was an executive officer, and prominent in the management of the Centennial Photographic Company, which had the exclusive right to make, sell or publish photographs of that beautiful World’s Fair.
He was for many years Chairman of the Executive Committee of the National PhotographicAssociation of America.
It was in 1870 that he founded this magazine, then a little eight-page trade monthly, and he has continued ever since to watch over its growth and prosperity, Its success has been largely due to the wise lines laid down for its management, from time to time, by him.


Mr. Adams was born in New York City, March 25, 1832. He is a descendant of Henry Adams of Braintree, Mass., from whom the Adamses of Presidental fame were likewise descended. On his mother’s side he is descended from Major William Phillips, who commanded the military forces of the Province of Maine in 1665, and by virtue of which descent he was a member of the Society of Colonial Wars. He was also a member of the Huguenot Society of America through his descent on his mother’s side.

He was an active and interested member of the American Social Science Association of which the Hon. F. J. Kingsbury is the esteemed President. Mr. Adams was also a Mason of high degree, being an honored Past Master of La Fayette Lodge, No. 64, of New York; a Knight Templar in Morton Commandery, also of New York.
In Montclair, where Mr. Adams has lived for the most part during the past twenty-eight years, he was a much respected citizen. He was for many years a vestryman of the Episcopal Church there, and for several terms a member of the Governing Board of the town. He was a charter member of the Montclair Club, and other public organizations.

He was a large property owner, and showed much public spirit in the improvement of the town of his adoption. It can easily be understood that he leaves here a host of true and warm friends.
He leaves but one child, his son, Mr. W. I. Lincoln Adams, who has succeeded him in the management of his large business interests. His widow also survives him. On these two the blow has fallen most heavily, and to them, most of all, we unite with all of our dear, dead leader’s friends, in a heart-felt and soul-deep sympathy.

The funeral services were held at “Irvingcroft,” Sunday afternoon, January fifth, at half-past two o’clock, and were largely attended by the deceased’s fellow-townsmen, his business associates, brother Masons, and a large circle of friends from far and near.
The services were conducted by his rector, the Rev. Doctor Carter, assisted by the Rev. A. H. Bradford, D.D. The beautiful and impressive Masonic burial rite was performed by a delegation of Mr. Adams’ fellow Masons from the New York and Montclair lodges. The interment was private in the family plot at Rosedale Cemetery, in Montclair.  (1.)

Professor Charles Ehrmann, the past instructor of the Chautauqua School of Photography, a correspondence school based out of the New York City offices of The Photographic Times, was  considered the “house photographer” for the journal and a likely candidate to have taken this undated photograph of Washington Irving Adams.

1. Our Founder Gone: in: The Photographic Times: New York: February, 1896: pp. 65-66

W. Irving Adams