The Other Buffham Brother: John Hardiman Buffham

Vintage photograph collectors may have heard of English-born George Richard Buffham (1846-1915), official photographer to the US Naval Academy at Annapolis.

Buffham also had a studio in Baltimore, Maryland, which he ran under the name Buffham Brothers.

This is the other Buffham of Buffham Brothers: John Hardiman Buffham (1855-1940). Like George, John Buffham immigrated to the US from England in the 1870s and settled in Baltimore with his wife, Jessie, and mother, Mary Ann Johnson Buffham.

George and John first appear in the US census records in Baltimore in 1880 as “picture dealers.” They might have been exposed to the business through their father, George Richard Buffham, Sr., who had been a London carver and gilder–probably of frames.

George was apprenticed to a London “spectacle-maker,” and the training in grinding glass lenses must have served as a good background for an understanding of photography.

George Buffham moved to Annapolis and gained the appointment at the Naval Academy sometime between 1890 and 1900. He sold his studio, located at 48 Maryland Avenue, near Prince George Street,  in 1912.

Some of his most famous photos are studio portraits of future admirals Chester W. Nimitz Harold Rainsford  Stark and Wat Tyler Cluverius as  US Naval Academy cadets.

Buffham photographed many officers, Academy athletic teams, graduating class groups, as well as members of the Maryland General Assembly, and outdoor scenes of Annapolis and the Academy. The Maryland State Archives and the Library of Congress each hold small collections of his photographs.

While George focused on photography, John Hardiman Buffham gravitated toward business, eventually working as a representative of Baltimore’s Resinol Company. The company made cremes and soaps developed by Dr. Merville Hamilton Carter in his private practice. Buffham, who divided his time between Baltimore and England, became the company’s representative in London.

John died in London in 1940, leaving an estate of nearly £6,000 to his two daughters, Edith Mary (Buffham) Varney and Jessie Mabel (Buffham) Curry.

While George and John both kept a substantial presence in England, a third brother, carpenter Thomas Henry Buffham (1852-1921) settled in Port Chester, Westchester County, New York, for good. His descendants became solidly American, while John’s remained in England.

This cabinet card photograph lists the studio’s address at 116 South Broadway, Baltimore, a location that Kelbaugh’s Directory of Maryland Photographers says Buffham occupied between 1880 and 1889.

George Buffham’s bust portrait of John takes full advantage of John’s dark good looks, penetrating eyes, strikingly smooth, pale complexion and high forehead. Leaning dramatically toward the camera, John’s confident gaze compels the viewer to acknowledge and admire him.


  1. Edward S. Cook says:

    While cleaning old photographs (a group) of young men in Annapolis, I found my grandfather John Cook in a large, dapper group in original framing but unidentified and dated 1898 with name of Buffham.. Not much to go on just now but will continue the search. Dr. Edward S. Cook

  2. Michael Foley says:


    what is your email address?

    Also, George Buffham was not a developer of the Bay Ridge Resort, but a care taker among other functions while a resident at Bay Ridge.

    Was there any photographs of George, Thomas or Mary (Johnson) his mother in existent to your knowledge?

    George died before the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad sold the Bay Ridge Resort. George burial was in Sound Beach, Connecticut not in Maryland or England. His exact burial site is unknown. This information is from his death certificate and newspaper article.


    1. waldonia says:

      Hi Mike, thanks for writing. I’ve removed any reference in my post to Bay Ridge Resort; there are references to a larger role by George Buffham in literature about Annapolis, but I of course defer to your greater knowledge.

      I only came upon this one photo of John H. Buffham on ebay by chance on a routine search for 19th century photos from Maryland.

      The death in England to which I refer is of John, not of George. I am aware that George was buried in an unnamed cemetery in Connecticut. As for John’s death, I found a record on that place his death at 29 September 1940 in London: the England and Wales National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966. Does this square with what you know?

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