Morris Moss - new business premises, 1886

New business premises for Messrs. Rigney and Moss - 1886

The worn-out unsightly structures occupied for many years by Mr. M. Moss as a photographic studio in High-street, West Maitland, near Mr. Poulton's establishment, have given place to spacious business premises, which give that portion of the town an improved aspect. The new buildings afford further illustration of the transformation which the main thoroughfare has undergone of late years. We congratulate Mr. J. G. Rigney, the owner of the site, on the spirited enterprise of which these imposing premises afford proof. One of the buildings is to be occupied by the owner, and the other has already been converted into a handsome photographic gallery, with accessories, which in point of completeness will compare with any in the colony…

The building leased by Mr. Moss has been specially fitted for the business of a photographic artist, and it lacks no accommodation. As we have said at the beginning of this notice, it would be difficult to find a more complete establishment of the kind in the colony. A gentleman who speaks with some authority tells us that there is no gallery like it in the colonies.

Mr. Moss does not propose to reside on the premises: the expansion of business has demanded the use of all the space for the execution and display of photographs. Mr. Moss has drawn upon his lengthened practical experience in the art, and has had his magnificent suite of rooms fitted in a manner that would do credit to any city in the southern hemisphere. Not satisfied with this merely, he is determined that no one, even the most exacting, shall be able to say with any degree of justice that a visit to Sydney is necessary to obtain the very highest class of artistic portraiture. Improved appliances have been introduced for printing, re-touching, enamelling, finishing, and other processes.

The expenditure incurred in furnishing the rooms and in importing new instruments and other apparatus has been considerable, and we cordially compliment Mr. Moss on his enterprise, which we hope may be fully rewarded. The premises have a handsome double shop front, the windows of which are being decorated in very admirable style by Mr. Aland Watts, an old Maitlander. "Moss' Elite Gallery of Artistic Photography" is inscribed in gold letters on the window nearest Mrs. McLauchlin's, and arch little figures support the flowing riband that tells, shall we say, of the artistic productions to be had within. In this window and in the centre of the shop are large sunlights of great illuminating power.

When lighted on Saturday evening the establishment had a very bright aspect. The spacious shop has been turned into a picture gallery, and the photographs and paintings have been arranged in conspicuous fashion so that visitors may spend half an hour very pleasantly in inspecting them. This department is by no means complete. It is the intention of the proprietor, in due time, to add considerably to the collection, which will be formed entirely of specimens of work from his studio. A doorway leading from the shop, which by the way has been embellished with flags and costly mirrors, gives access to the reception room, a commodious apartment, very cosily furnished. It is fitted with handsome oak furniture, and large pier glasses are hung round the room. Indeed the surroundings generally are of a most elaborate character.

The room may be approached also from a side entrance thirty-five feet long, from the street, access being obtained by means of French lights, over which are fanlights, and another doorway forms a third approach. The windows are of glass, with brilliant cut corners, embossed margins, and stained ornamental centres, while the panels of the principal door are formed of -what is known as obscured ornamental glass. In the apartment is a mantle piece with tiled hearth of very pretty design, and for the convenience of customers a fire will be lighted during the winter months. On the mantle piece and elsewhere are disposed statues and statuettes of historical interest, and a number of excellent pictures. A lady will have charge of the room, and her business will be to devote every attention to members of her sex visiting the studio. Next the apartment just described is the ladies' dressing room, which has the greatest privacy, and the appointments, too, are very complete.

The gallery or operating room (which is under the direction of Mr. Alfred Williams, a courteous, capable artist, who has lengthened experience in the business both in Sydney and Melbourne) is approached from the reception room. It forms no portion of the main building; it is a distinct structure, and is built on the most improved principle, we are told. Its dimensions are 13 feet by 16 feet 6 inches. Connected with it are dark room and accessories.

The gallery is in perfect harmony, in point of treatment, with the rest of the establishment, being a combination of the best American notions, and a knowledge of what is suitable to the wants of this large district, gathered from Mr. Moss's long experience in business. The appointments are very excellent, the instruments alone, which are quite new, having cost a large sum of money and the scenic backgrounds have been specially painted to order. Mr. Moss has apparently spared neither expense or energy in fitting the room in the most complete manner possible. Chairs and couches and other conveniences are placed around the room, the floor of which is attractively covered, in keeping with the other departments. The arrangements for modulating the light by what are technically termed sun-blinds, enable the operator by a very simple process to adjust the blinds in order to produce any degree of light or shade that may be required.

A word or two with regard to the treatment the portrait has to undergo may not prove uninteresting. After the negative has been exposed in the camera it is taken to the dark room and developed, so to speak, and remains under "running" water for several hours. It is then dried and placed in other hands to be re-touched, after which it is transferred to the printer, whose department is situate [sic] on the ground floor, approached from a staircase leading from the gallery. Many persons are under the impression that the work ends here. Not so, however. The picture has to undergo other processes before even the paper is ready for use.

After the day's batch has been printed, the whole have to be toned, fixed, and further washing is necessary to free the print from chemicals, in order to prevent fading or spotting. They are then dried, and handed to the enameller, whose room adjoins, and he produces that beautiful mirror-like glaze that adds so much finish to the picture. The enamelling process to be brought into use is that known as the American Glace Enamel, which is said to be very superior in richness. Then follows the mounting, which will be executed in another part of the promises, and the photograph is ready to send out. The enlarging room is fitted with the most improved Equatorial Solar camera, and provision has also been made for the production of opal enlargements and sun pearls, finished either in oil, crayon, or water colors. A photograph may be enlarged, we are told, from the tiny gem to twice life-size, if required…

…Mr. Moss and his staff had laboured very industriously in order to have the new premises open by last Saturday evening, and the effort was successful. The show room and surroundings had a very bright aspect. In the window and elsewhere was shown an admirable collection of photographs. The rooms on the first floor and the gallery were effectively lighted, and were visited by fully one thousand persons during the evening. Mr. Moss, with his artist (Mr. Williams), and assistant (Mr. George Kedwell), courteously showed visitors through the place, and Mr. Moss was the recipient of very hearty congratulations from the people.

Maitland Mercury,  25 September 1886