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The Ilford Manual of Photography


John Jovic and Peter Naylor

The Ilford Manual of Photography is an important document which, due to having been in publication for the last 120 years, is capable of showing the evolution of Photography. It's first issue was published in 1890(#1), about 40-50 years after the introduction of any vaguely practical photographic techniques, the Wet Collodian process, and not long after the introduction of the Dry Plate and Celluloid Roll films in the late 1880's. The first Kodak camera using Celluloid Roll film had been introduced just a few years before the first issue of The Ilford Manual of Photography. It was a time when photography was quickly becoming much more accessible to the masses than it had ever been. Kodak's new film camera divorced Chemistry (or Alchemy) and Science from the act of taking (or laboriously making) a photograph and famously stated, "You press the button, we do the rest". These must have been heady days with new access to an exciting process, photography, previously only available to the truly dedicated practitioner.

The times when the first issue was released where in many ways similar to our very recent past where film has been superseded in popular use by digital which has made the act of photography easier again, opening the flood gates to a new set of masses.

The Manual of Photography is currently available in it's tenth edition (#2).

Pictured are the first and last of the C.H. Bothamley editions. Image kindly supplied by Peter Naylor.


The following information and publication dates of the early C.H. Bothamley editions have been kindly supplied by Peter Naylor. Please contact Peter Naylor directly ( ) if you can contribute any further information about these early editions.

"The British Ilford Manual Of Photography was first published in 1891 by the Britannia Works Company, and is an invaluable guide to photographic techniques, darkroom theory and associated topics. Britannia subsequently changed its name  to llford Limited in 1902. C.H. Bothamley edited all  these early maroon-and-gold editions, being replaced around 1930 by GE Brown. For reasons best known only to Britannia/Ilford, the early editions are all undated. However, you’d have to suspect it was something to do with keeping prospective purchasers in the dark, if a newsagent or bookstore had a superseded edition still for sale out there on the shelves! The  later grey larger editions from the 1930s onwards did have conventional bibliographical referencing in the frontispiece page, probably due to compulsory import requirements in the USA, for which I say “God Bless Uncle Sam”!

The only positive clue is usually the printing volume number, which is identified towards the bottom of the Frontispiece page and reads something like ‘ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTIETH THOUSAND’. However, on occasion there is also a helpful date included in the Appendix/Price List Pages, and sometimes a previous owner of a particular book may have handwritten the date of purchase in. Please bear in mind this is no definitive indication of printing date though, because the book may have been purchased second hand or have remained unsold in a bookshop for a couple of years. However, in the latter instance,  it does tell us that the book cannot have been printed after that date. If a date is in bold characters (“1904”) , then it means I am pretty sure it is correct -  if it is in light italics like “1905”
, then it means it is only my guesstimate. Regarding page numbers, I've only gone as far as the actual last numbered page, not the often unnumbered additional ones in indices.

Please also bear in mind that this is by no means a complete work! It is an ongoing task, with continual updates and amendments as more information become available. So far, with great assistance from fellow classic camera collectors from around the world,  I’ve identified 49 separate printings.   These are listed in the following pages in numerical and hopefully reasonably  chronological order, but the gaps in printing editions suggests there are far more still to be identified. So if you have some information to add to the list, either in the form of a printing edition not yet included or some more positive data about dates, price or page contents – please email me at with the details.    Every little bit of information helps.

You might wonder why I just didn’t take the easy way out and email either Ilford Ltd or Focal Press, who took over publishing of the IMOP, for this data. Well, I did – and I’m still sitting here waiting for a reply from either or both …….. !I guess that tells us something about “Lean And Mean Corporate Philosophies In The 21st Century”, eh?"


Edition Publisher Price Pages Year
3,000th Britannia 1/- 207 1891
12,000th Britannia 1/- 212 1891
13,000th Britannia 1/- 196 1892
16,000th Britannia 1/- 212 1892
19,000th Britannia 1/- 180 1892
20,000th Britannia 1/- 184 1893
30,000th Britannia 1/- 199 1893
35,000th Britannia 1/- 202 1894
45,000th Britannia 1/- 196 1895
50,000th Britannia 1/- 196* 1895
55,000th Britannia 1/- 200 1896
60,000th Britannia 1/- 180 1897
70,000th Britannia 1/- 180 1897
75,000th Britannia 1/- 180 1897
80,000th Britannia 1/- 180 1898
85,000th Britannia 1/- 183 1898
90,000th Britannia 1/- 176 1898
95,000th Britannia 1/- 180 1898*
96,000th Britannia 1/- 180 1898*
99,000th Britannia 1/- 190 1899
110,000th Britannia 1/- 204 1899*
115,000th Britannia 1/- 204* 1899*
120,000th Britannia 1/- 204 1900*
125,000th Britannia 1/- 204 1900
130,000th Britannia 1/- 204 1901
135,000th Ilford 1/- 204 1902
145,000th  Ilford 1/- 204 1902
150,000th Ilford 1/- 214 1902
160,000th  Ilford 1/- 214* 1903
165,000th Ilford 1/- 218 1903
170,000th Ilford 1/- 218 1904*
175,000th Ilford 1/- 218 1904*
180,000th  Ilford 1/- 218* 1904
190,000th Ilford 1/- 218 1905
195,000th Ilford 1/- 218 1905
200,000th Ilford 1/- 218 1906*
210,000th Ilford 1/- 218 1908
215,000th Ilford 1/- 218 1909
220,000th Ilford 1/- 186 1910
225,000th Ilford 1/- 232 1911
230,000th Ilford 1/- 232 1912
235,000th Ilford 1/- 232 1913
240,000th Ilford 1/- 232 1914
245,000th Ilford 1/- 232* 1915
250,000th Ilford 1/- 282 1916*
270,000th Ilford 1/- 282 1920*
290,000th Ilford 1/-6d 288 1921*
300,000th Ilford 1/-6d 288 1922*
310,000th Ilford 1/-6d 290 1925*

* Denotes uncertainty







(#1) 'The Manual of Photography formerly The Ilford Manual of Photography', 6th Edition (1976), Edited by Alan Horder, Published by Focal Press
(#2) 'The Manual of Photography formerly The Ilford Manual of Photography', 6th Edition (1976), Edited by Alan Horder, Published by Focal Press. The present numbering of editions began with the first 1942 James Mitchell edition.




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