The Wyllie Fund; Light - May 29th 1909

The Wyllie Fund

In May, 1909 Mr. A. K. Venning proposed a fund to support relocating spirit photographer Edward Wyllie to England. Wyylie had lost his studio and equipment during an earthquake in Sans Francisco.[1] On April 18th, 1906 the coast of California was struck with a 7.9 magnitude earthquake, fire broke out in Sans Fransico and lasted for several days. Over 3,000 people died, and over 80% of the city was destroyed.

The Fund originally proposed at a price of $50 per subscriber. James Coates suggested the funds be amalgamated and lesser amounts were submitted and combined. James Coates oversaw the fund and subscribers were instructed to send him checks, crossed “Royal Bank of Scotland, Rothesay”. In July 1909 Wyllie agreed to the proposition and stated “I can leave here any time within two weeks notice.”.[2] Arrangements were underway to have him tour several locations including, Rothesay, Bridge of Allan, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, and London[3]

By August the funds contributions had reached $78. It had been agreed upon that the results of the tour’s sittings would be published in Light.[4] In September the funds total reached $242.32 (apx. $7,900 in 2023), transportation was purchased, and the balance was given to Wyllie for “settlement of personal matters”. It was agreed that South Africa would be added to the list of stops. He left the USA on August 20th and arrived in Rothesay the first week of September to begin taking spirit photographs.[5]

By January 1910 Coates reported all Scotland funds had been utilized and all sittings had been fulfilled. The balance of the fund, intended for England, was transferred to J. J. Moorse to oversee.[6] In July it was reported Wyllie was in London, following a brief illness, and was ready to fulfill the final leg of “The Wyllie Fund” subscriptions.[7]

[1] Light – May 29th, 1909
[2] Light – July 3rd, 1909
[3] Light – July 17th, 1909
[4] Light – Aug. 14th, 1909
[5] Light – Sep. 11, 1909
[6] Light – Jan. 8th, 1910
[7] Light – July 16th, 1910

Post ID: 2023.219.2664

Posted Date: January 3, 2023

Photographer: Edward Wyllie

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