Antoine-François-Jean Claudet (1787 - 1867)

(My thanks to David Encill at Chance Glass for some of the following information).

Antoine-François-Jean Claudet (1787-1867), was born in France and worked for a banker uncle who sent him to the glass works at Choisy-le-Roi where he became interested in glass manufacture. He came to England in 1829 to meet with Robert Lucas Chance (who founded the glass works of Chance Brothers in Smethwick in 1824) and introduce French methods of production. He stayed on in England afterwards and in 1830 set up as an importer of sheet glass in premises at 88 and 89 High Holborn, joined in 1834 by George Houghton a local glass dealer and then concentrated on importing glass domes for clocks and suchlike.

However, Antoine Claudet was diverted by the invention of photography in 1839 and had private advice of the work of Daguerre of whom he was a friend. As is well known, he slipped over to France, received instruction from Daguerre himself and bought the first license for use of the process in England. The later progress and contribution of Claudet to photography is well documented.

Even though made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1853 and appointed official photographer to the Queen, he still cannily maintained his business interest in Claudet & Houghton, which by now also offered coloured glass for darkroom use and a comprehensive range of equipment and materials for photograhers, including silver nitrate for sensitising baths.

In 1863, Claudet retired and the business became Claudet, Houghton & Sons (Ref: an advert in David Encill's possession dated 1869) but the company subsequently (date uncerrtain) became known as George Houghton & Son. The son was also a George Houghton, born in 1835, and carried on the business after his father's death in 1887 and then was succeeded by his son Edgar Houghton.

Another interesting snippet from David Encill is that Claudet, Houghton & Sons also manufactured hyacinth vases, after buying the Rights from George Piercy Tye.

The firm of Houghton's had a long and illustrious history in the manufacture of cameras.


This page last updated: 13th December 2012