Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Hemus & Hanna, Auckland NZ [Photographers]

A new studio opens in Auckland

In August 1875, Charles Hemus and John Robert Hanna joined forces in partnership to establish a photographic portrait studio in Auckland. An advertisement in the Auckland Star signaled their intent:

Advertisements (1875, August 12). Auckland Star, p. 3. Retrieved June 16, 2013, from

By August 21 a newspaper notice informed the public that premises had been leased for the studio, located at the corner of Queen and Wellesley Streets West:

Advertisements (1875, August 21). Auckland Star, p. 3. Retrieved June 16, 2013, from

Several days later a newspaper report on the Hemus & Hanna Studio appeared detailing, among other things, the extent of the photographic studio. Listed are twelve rooms for printing and other branches of the business, plus a large glass room which extended over four adjoining houses:

MESSRS HEMUS AND HANNA'S STUDIO (1875, August 23). Auckland Star, p. 2. Retrieved June 16, 2013, from

On September 1 the photographic studio of Hemus & Hanna officially opened for business:

Advertisements (1875, September 1). Auckland Star, p. 3. Retrieved June 16, 2013, from

Hemus & Hanna - Artisits Photographers

Advertising superior portraiture photography, Hemus & Hanna also offered artistically finished photographs using oils, water colours or crayons. An early example rear imprint from one of Hemus & Hanna's carte de visite photographs that appears in the Georgina Auld nee Muir photo album follows:

Example of mid to late 1870s rear imprint from a Hemus & Hanna carte de visite
[Auld Photograph Collection apc-000108-s2]

There were at least three additional photographers operating within Auckland in July 1876. Published in the Daily Southern Cross were the American Photographic Company, R.H. Bartlett, Clarke Bros., plus Hemus & Hanna, all vying for the patronage of the public.

Advertisements (1876, July 13). Daily Southern Cross, p. 4. Retrieved June 16, 2013, from

No doubt to distinguish themselves from the other photographers, Hemus & Hanna started offering photographs of New Zealand's unique sites to tourists. Confirmation of this approach can be seen in an advertising campaign carried out in 1878 when the pair offered photographs of the beautiful Lake Rotomahana district for sale through their Queen Street studio.

Advertisements (1878, June 5). Auckland Star, p. 4. Retrieved June 16, 2013, from

Larger sized photographs known as cabinet cards reached their peak in the 1880s and would soon displace the smaller carte de visite sized photographs. Hemus & Hanna started advertising "finely finished enlargements" in September 1881:

Advertisements (1881, September 10). Observer, p. 617. Retrieved June 16, 2013, from

Dissolution of partnership

The partnership of Hemus & Hanna was officially dissolved on 14 April 1885.

Advertisements (1885, April 15). New Zealand Herald, p. 1. Retrieved June 16, 2013, from

Although Charles Hemus continued the business in his own name, John Robert Hanna would also continue by purchasing the business of Clarke Bros. and opening his own studio. The partnership between Hemus and Hanna lasted just under ten years from August 1875 (officially opening for business in September) through to April 1885.

Further references

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