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Lennie

Lennie

The company of James Lennie, an optician and instrument maker, was started around 1835 in South Bridge, Edinburgh but by 1840 it is noted at 14 Leith Street. The 1851 census notes that James' eldest son William, aged 13, was an apprentice to the business. He later moved to Liverpool. James died in 1854 but his widow Eliza carried on the business. In 1857 she moved to 46 Princes Street and the business became known as E. Lennie.

They were successful and their large premises sold a wide range of optical goods. Their stock included spectacles, telescopes, opera glasses, microscopes, barometers, thermometers, cameras, magic lanterns and slides, stereoscopes and mathematical instruments. They did not manufacture the majority of their items but they bought their stock from good makers. They are known to have sold instruments made by Short & Mason, Negretti & Zambra and the French company Dubois & Casse amongst others.

Eliza Lennie and the optician James Taylor (from Harewood, England) are both listed in the Edinburgh directory of 1865-66 as separate businesses at the same two address of 46 Princes Street and 2 Queen Street. By 1872, Eliza and Taylor had married and operated as one company. Three of Eliza's sons from her first husband also joined the business as it grew. After Eliza died in 1901, the company was still shown in the directories as E. Lennie until 1903 when the name changed to J & J Lennie. Two of her sons, John and Joseph were now running the business until at least 1912. In 1900, Joseph was also the President of the Edinburgh Photographic Society. The company of Lennie was still in existence up until 1959 when E.J. Lennie (known as Jack) finally closed it and moved to Rome with his wife.

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