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Globes in Photographs, Portrait, John McAllister, Optician, 1860 (Reserved)

[John McAllister, Jr., Optician, with Globe and Scientific Instruments]
American: c. 1860
2.75 x 2.75 inches

A portrait photograph of John McAllister Jr. (1786-1877), a partner of McAllister & Co., a large and prolific Philadelphia manufacturer of optical equipment and scientific instruments in the 19th century. He is identified on the back in fountain pen script as “John McAllister Jr. Optician.”

In the photograph McAllister is shown seated among a large variety of scientific instruments. On the left of the photograph is a 12-inch diameter floor globe. On the floor in front of him is a table globe that based on the stand was possibly made by Gilman Joslin, Boston.  On the table on the right is an orrery that based on its appearance  may have been manufactured by Holbrook or Andrews in the United States. There is also another table globe on the table.

Product description continues below.


John A. McAllister (1822-1896) — one of the sons of John MCAllister, Jr. — donated the massive McAllister Family collection of ephemera, graphics, and manuscripts to The Library Company of Philadelphia, which has a website section devoted to the collection. The following biographical information appears on the website:

The McAllister family was important in Philadelphia for over a century as businessmen, manufacturers, and collectors. There were three generations of distinctly different men named John McAllister, all with antiquarian interests, which has been cause for confusion in the past. The first, John McAllister Sr. (1753-1830), emigrated from Scotland in 1775 and became a successful whip and cane manufacturer in the city. In 1796 he bought a stock of spectacles; from that point, what had been an unusual sideline became the McAllister family’s future as manufacturers and proprietors of optical equipment which, by 1830, had totally eclipsed their earlier specialty. In 1807 his son John McAllister Jr., a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, joined the business, and became a named partner in 1811. The McAllister company remained prominent on Chestnut Street for decades after as it expanded to become nationally known manufacturers and retailers of optical equipment, mathematical instruments, and commercial photographs.


“The John A. McAllister Collection: The McAllister Family.” The Library Company of Philadelphia. 2007. (23 April 2020).

Additional information


19th Century