John Benjamin Dancer seemed to be preordained to become a successful maker of scientific instruments with both his father and grandfather being prominent opticians and optical instrument makers. Born in London on October 8, 1812, he relocated in Liverpool with his father Josiah, and assisted him in his business and as a lecturer until the senior Dancer's death in 1835. He promptly established his own instrument making business in Liverpool and also in Manchester in 1841, operating as Abraham and Dancer. He constructed a powerful microscope that became the instrument of choice for such prominent scientists as Sir David Brewster, John Dalton, and James Prescott Joule, and his porous jars were used worldwide. His automatic contact breaker, also referred to as "the vibrating interrupter" was an important electronic instrument that was widely used in telegraphy.
J. B. Dancer's interest in photography began shortly after learning about the invention of the daguerreotype, and he wasted no time in learning the processes of Louis-Jacques Mande Daguerre and William Henry Fox Talbot. He is credited with introducing the art of photography to both Liverpool and Manchester. He is believed to be the first to produce microscopic daguerreotypes, which have evolved into the present-day microfilm. His growing professional prominence is reflected in his membership into the elite Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society upon the recommendation of John Dalton.
An important turning point in John B. Dancer's professional career occurred with Frederick Scott Archer's invention of the wet-collodion photographic process in 1851. He perfected Archer's method, which he applied to his microphotographs, attracting the attention of French photographer Rene Dagron. In 1853, Mr. Dancer invented the first twin lens (binocular) camera, which he patented three years' later. Mr. Dancer also pioneered the use of photographic lantern slides. For his scientific efforts, he received a fellowship to the Royal Astronomical Society and was appointed official optician of the Prince of Wales in 1869.
Although he continued to operate his photographic photographic business, it became increasingly difficult to operate after Mr. Dancer was diagnosed with diabetes in 1870 and suffered a progressive loss of eyesight. He became completely blind after three unsuccessful glaucoma surgeries. In 1878, he relinquished ownership to his daughters Eleanor Elizabeth and Catherine, which was renamed E. E. Dancer & C
Copyright © 2002 - 2019 Historic Camera