Richard Beard

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Richard Beard is unrelated to R.R. Beard Ltd, British maker of projectors, lamps and enlarging easels.

Richard Beard (b 22 Dec 1801, East Stonehouse, Devon – d 7 June 1885, Hampstead, London) was an English photographer and businessman who bought the rights to make Daguerreotypes in England.


Originally making money as a coal merchant[1], in 1839 he began to pay a royalty of £150 per annum for the Daguerreotype license - shortly before the process was published and given for granted to the world (except Britain) by the French government. In June of 1841 Beard obtained outright Daguerre's patent rights in England. Beard opened London's first studio on 23 March 1841 on the roof of the Royal Polytechnic Institution (now the University of Westminster) at 309 Regent Street, London. He invested a lot of money in a chain of own photo studios.

Beard obtained the rights to the design of Alexander Wolcott's Daguerreotype camera, which used a "concave cylinder"[2] mirror at the back of the camera, and imported one of these for use in his studio.

It was Beard who employed various people to improve his business; one of these was John Frederick Goddard, who discovered that adding Bromine to the sensitization process greatly improved the speed of the Daguerreotype plates.

Beard took out a number of patents for improvements to processes, in Britain and other countries.


Beard became immensely rich from selling patent rights and from running his studios.

He sold the rights to practice Daguerreotype photography to a few men in the big cities and to only one person from each county. Each one had to pay the then enormous sum of £1000 for the license. For example James Freeman, a photographer who personally knew Fox Talbot and who later joined his brother William Freeman's studio in Sydney, had bought the license for Somerset.

Maybe even Mr. Goodman, the first Australian photographer, had obtained his license from Beard since it is reported that he used "The Reflecting Apparatus" (Wolcotts camera?)[3].


Beard later fought a number of legal actions over his patent rights[4], and in 1849 became bankrupt as a result.