An exceptionally rare photograph from this short-lived Hong Kong studio.
The 1865 China Directory lists ‘E. Wiebeking, photographer, Stanley Street.’ Wiebeking subsequently formed a partnership with W. G. Cearns in early 1866. On 4th January 1866 the Hongkong Daily Press carried the announcement:
we the undersigned beg to inform the Ladies and Gentlemen of Hongkong that we are about to open a photographic Establishment at No. 111 Queen’s Road Central, and being the only European Photographers in the Colony, we most respectfully solicit their patronage.
The Business to be conducted entirely on European principals [sic].
Due Notice will be given of our day of opening.
Messrs. wiebeking, cearns & Co., &c., &c., &c.
Hongkong, 28th December, 1865.
The otherwise unknown Edward A. Wiebeking and W. G. Cearns were in partnership for just under two months. Their studio opened in early February 1866, as advertised in the Hongkong Daily Press on 2nd February 1866:
Wiebeking, Cearns and Co., Photographic Establishment. 111 Queens Road – opposite Stag Hotel – 2nd February, 1866.
However, the 26th March 1866 issue of the Hongkong Daily Press reported that the partnership had been dissolved, and that Wiebeking at 111 Queen’s Road would be responsible for any debts. Wiebeking struggled on alone, and his studio was advertised in the Hongkong Mercury & Shipping Gazette on 2nd June 1866:
e. a. wiebeking & Co’s
Open From 9 Till 5 o’Clock
Opposite the Stag Hotel, No. 111,
But just a month later Wiebeking was clearly in financial trouble, and on 19th July the Hongkong Mercury & Shipping Gazette advertised the auctioning of his ‘2 cameras (nearly new), with chemicals, baths, glasses,’ as well as his household goods (R. Wue, E. K. Lai and J. Waley-Cohen, Picturing Hong Kong, 1997, p. 30). Wiebeking had evidently been unable to meet his rent and the following day he was adjudged a bankrupt in the Supreme Court of Hongkong (Hongkong Daily Press, 24th July 1866). All debts were to be notified to Cearns, who was by then the manager of the Stag Hotel (Hongkong Daily Press, 21st August 1866). No photographs from this studio, or by Wiebeking and Cearns as individuals, have been identified.
From: Terry Bennett's: History of Photography in China - Western Photographers 1861-1879.