Negretti and Zambra

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Negretti Zambra Telescope issued by British Military, date unknown.
Detail from Negretti Zambra Telescope issued by British Military, date unknown.

The firm Negretti and Zambra (active 1850 – c. 1999) was a producer of scientific (philosophical) and optical instruments and also operated a photographic studio based in London, England. Henry Negretti (1818–1879) and Joseph Zambra (1822–1897) formed a partnership in 1850, thereby founding the firm which would eventually be appointed opticians and scientific instrument makers to Her Majesty Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and Edward VII of the United Kingdom, the Royal Observatory and the British Admiralty.

When the Crystal Palace was re-erected in Sydenham in 1854, Negretti and Zambra became the official photographers of the Crystal Palace Company, which allowed them to photograph the interior and grounds of the new building. The firm made use of this access to produce a number of stereographs. In 1856 Negretti and Zambra sponsored a photographic expedition to Egypt, Nubia and Ethiopia conducted by Francis Frith. More than 500 stereographs of Frith's voyage were produced by the firm between 1857 and 1860.

Negretti and Zambra (themselves) photographed Shakespeare's House, Stratford-upon-Avon. A sepia photograph was then pasted onto card 4" × 2.5". This was then presented to visitors to the Crystal Palace to enable them to compare it with the model erected by Mr. E.T. Parris (better known for his monumental panoramic paintings) in the Centre Transept. The card itself is headed "Crystal Palace April 23rd 1864."

Between 1855 and 1857 Negretti and Zambra commissioned photographer Pierre Rossier to travel to China to document the Second Opium War. Although Rossier subsequently was unable to accompany Anglo-French forces in that campaign, he nevertheless produced a number of stereographs and other photographs of China, Japan, the Philippines and Siam (now Thailand), which Negretti and Zambra published and that represented the first commercial photographs of those countries. In 1863 Henry Negretti took the first aerial photographs of London from a balloon piloted by Henry Coxwell.

In 1865 they also published a book, titled A Treatise on Meteorological Instruments, which was reprinted in 1995.

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Additional photos of Negretti Zambra Military Telescope: