PhotoLexicon, Volume 7, nr. 13 (March 1990) (en)

Charles Binger

Hedi Hegeman


Charles Binger was the co-founder and business partner of the lithographic printing company Emrik & Binger, located in Haarlem. In the third quarter of the nineteenth century, Binger applied photography as one the various technical developments in the areas of graphic and photomechanical reproduction. He also did portrait and topographic photography. Binger’s studio operated under the names ‘Binger & Co’ and ‘Binger & Chits’.




Jesaias (Charles) Binger is born in Amsterdam on 25 February as the son of Marius Hijman Binger, a cigar manufacturer, real estate agent, and bookseller, as well as a ‘generally well-known Amsterdam publisher (…) who had acquired a highly reputable name through his numerous quality publications.’


Charles begins working as a printer in his brothers’ publishing company on the Warmoesstraat in Amsterdam, where the book Hildebrands Camera Obscura (1839/1851) and the first integral edition of Vondel’s works (the ‘Van Lennep Edition’) were published. In this year, Charles moves to Haarlem to apply his knowledge of lithography. Starting on 14 November, he resides at the home of Ozer David Emrik, a senior and more experienced colleague, at Koningstraat Wijk 5 No. 30.


At the age of twenty-seven, Binger enters a business partnership as a lithographer with Ozer David Emrik in in January of this year. Emrik handles primarily the administration and the bookkeeping; Binger is in charge of all technical matters. Three months after the founding of the partnership, Charles marries Emrik’s daughter, Jeanette, on 6 March 1857. Acting as a witness of the marriage is B.J. Chits, an ‘Israeli’ teacher and photographer. Charles and Jeanette Binger move to Koningstraat 5–31.


The earliest known shot taken by ‘Chs. Binger & Cie’ (‘Charles Binger & Company’)—a carte-de-visite portrait of a man— dates from this year. The studio’s address is on the Zijlstraat in Haarlem.


Emrik & Binger receive their first award in 1861 in Brussels (as mentioned in an advertisement of 1893 that cites the company’s diverse distinctions). In the same year, the company also receives an award at the Nationale Tentoonstelling (‘National Exhibition’) in Haarlem, as does the Photographisch Etablissement Munnich en Ermerins (‘Photographic Establishment Munnich and Ermerins’), another business in Haarlem.


Charles Binger takes over the recently awarded ‘Photographisch Etablissement’, when Ermerins leaves the business. He continues the business together with J.Th. van Munnich, ‘whose detailed study of photography lasting many years is to be credited for a certain renown of the products supplied by this establishment up to now,’ as Binger writes in a printed letter addressed to his clients. Also named is the company’s business address at Molenpad 167, near the Kraanport. The letter also states that international competition will not be eschewed, and ‘it will always be my aim to keep art at the level of the times.’

In the Haarlem city address books of 1862 to 1882, Binger is listed as a photographer: ‘C. Binger en Comp., Photographische Inrigting’ (‘C. Binger and Partner, Photographic Establishment’). The business address is located at Zijlstraat 5-759 until 1872. In addition to his photographic activities, Binger continues working as a lithographic printer at Emrik & Binger, located at Koningstraat 5-31 in Haarlem. Apparently, the previous founders have withdrawn from the business. Charles’ father, Marius Hijman Binger, is cited as a cigar manufacturer for the first time in the Haarlem address book of 1862; Ozer David Emrik is listed as ‘delegate of the state lottery, furrier and store merchant’, in addition to lithographer.


The Haarlem city address book of this year indicates that Emrik and Marius Binger are quick to change careers. Ozer David Emrik is listed as a ‘litho-engraver’ and a merchant in hats and caps; Marius Hijman Binger has established himself as a real estate agent. For the first time, the printing company Emrik & Binger is listed in the address book, with lithography as its specialty.


Charles Binger compiles a ‘Photographic Album’ of sketches and drawings made by ‘living masters’, which is published by the ‘Binger Brothers’ in Amsterdam.


According to advertisements on the reverse of carte-de-visite portraits produced by Binger & Co, the company exhibits ‘zelfdruk en kleurendruk’ (‘self-printing and colour printing’) at an exhibition in Groningen. The same portraits also mention membership in the ‘Nederlandsche maatschappij ter bevordering van nijverheid’ (‘Netherlands Society for the Promotion of Industry’).


Binger enters a collaboration with the photographer Jacques Chits. Starting in this year, the firm Binger & Chits is located at Gedempte Oude Gracht 5-45 in Haarlem.


The partnership Binger & Chits is dissolved on 1 January. Charles Binger subsequently announces he is expanding and improving the business.


The business address of the lithographic printing company Emrik & Binger is listed in the Haarlem city address book at Koningstraat 5-27, which is also the home address of Ozer David Emrik and his son, David.


The frequency with which the business relocates, primarily administrative moves, reaches its peak. In 1877, the address of Charles’ photography store on the Gedempte Oude Gracht changes to No. 47. Jacques Chits establishes his business as a photographer at Waaigat 14. The address of the lithographic printing company becomes Koningstraat 24. The company now takes up an entire block that extends from Nos. 22 to 28. A new factory is built by D.E.L. van den Arend at this location on the corner of the Koningstraat and the Stoofsteeg, facilitated by the purchase of the adjacent houses. The Gedempte Oude Gracht forms the third side of the block.


Emrik & Binger moves into its new establishment, where the printing company, workshops, and studios are located.


Ozer David Emrik dies on December 27. Charles Binger and David Emrik continue with the running of the lithographic printing company.


The building at Koningstraat 36 is purchased and ‘temporarily set up to produce collotype or phototype, a new branch of the art industry, which aims to print original photographs, which are transferred onto mirrored glass, on paper by means of a press with printing ink, so that the photograph, just as with regular lithography, is imperishable.’ By introducing a cylinder press along with expansions and renovations, the business is able to take advantage of the new innovations occurring in photoype.


In this year, the printing company begins taking on commissions from outside the Netherlands. Emrik & Binger soon acquires an international reputation at least as equally sound as the domestic market.


Charles Binger is no longer listed as a photographer in the Haarlem city address book, perhaps because his work in the printing company demands his full attention.


Bingers’ membership in the ‘Commissie van bijstand’ (‘Assisting Committee’) for the Tentoonstelling van Photographie en aanverwante kunstnijverheid (‘Exhibition of Photography and Related Applied Arts’), held in The Hague in September, affirms his continued interest in photography.


Emrik & Binger furnishes collotypes to various magazines, e.g. the Tijdschrift voor Photographie (‘Magazine of Photography’). The firm produces all of the illustrations in the 1893 volume of this magazine. Maurits Binger, Charles’ second son, also works in the printing profession and by this time is also interested in photography.


The company Emrik & Binger is awarded a silver medal at the ‘Internationale Tentoonstelling tot bevordering der Photographie’ (‘International Exhibition for the Promotion of Photography’) in Groningen, in the category ‘Reproductions, acquired from photographic negatives by means of mechanical printing methods’.


The business address of the lithographic printing company Emrik & Binger changes to Koningstraat 30. Charles Binger leaves the company. On behalf of the company’s personnel, he is presented a commemorative album featuring photos of the workshops and its employees taken by Maurits. On 25 April, this (unascertained) album is shown at a meeting of the HAFC (Haarlems Amateur Fotografen Club, ‘Haarlem Amateur Photographers Club’).


As of 1 January 1896, the company’s management is officially transferred to Charles’ son, Maurits, and to the sons of David Emrik, Orest David and Herman David. Maurits presents his father as a candidate for membership in the AAFV (Amsterdamse Amateur Fotografen Vereniging, ‘Amsterdam Amateur Photographers Association’). Charles Binger is accepted in his function as an ex-partner in the firm Emrik & Binger.


Charles Binger dies on 14 February in Haarlem.


From the late 1850s to 1891, Charles Binger ran various portrait studios—both as an independent photographer and in collaboration with his colleagues, J. Chits and J.Th. van Munnich—where primarily carte-de-visite portraits and cabinet photos were produced. Especially in his portraits of children and women, Binger made full use of attributes taken from the illusory world of salon culture, i.e. draperies, pedestals and chairs. He preferred to portray men looking stern, from the waist up, shot against a neutral background. This ‘calvanistic’ austerity was well suited to the dignity associated with his circle of clientele: notaries and preachers in the city of Haarlem. One example, of circa 1865, is his collection of portraits depicting the board members and commissioners of the Haarlemse Vereniging Weten en Werken (‘Haarlem Association Knowledge and Working’).

Binger’s studio also produced the standard, posed masquerade portraits. In addition, there was a significant demand for topographic photography. In the 1860s and 70s, Binger photographed buildings and street scenes in Haarlem in various formats. These photos generally have little life to them. Prior to the 1879 demolition of the building that housed the society ‘trou moet blijcken’ (‘trust must be proven’), on the corner of the Grote Markt and the Houtstraat in Haarlem, Binger took various shots of its exterior and interior—e.g. ‘a glimpse of the Billiard Hall’—around 1870. It is not known if this was done on assignment.

As a photographer, Binger devoted his effort to the distribution of art reproductions in the format of carte-de-visite portraits and cabinet card photos, which he also produced in the form of photo albums. Reproduction photography of this nature is less interesting when it comes to ascertaining a photographer’s personal qualities, but bears special relevance as an expression of the popularisation of art emerging in the nineteenth century.

In 1865, a publication appeared in which Charles Binger was involved, specifically, a Photographisch Album naar schetsen en teekeningen van levende meesters (‘Photographic Album after Sketches and Drawings by Living Masters’) in twelve instalments. This album was published by the family business of the ‘Binger Brothers’ in Amsterdam. In an 1864 announcement of this ‘showpiece in the salon’, Binger wrote: ‘At the present time, there exists no better way to obtain copies of the labour of Artists than Photography, which is able to bring back as faithfully as possible everything the artist had initially wished to express.’ Kunstjuweeltjes voor de salontafel (‘Art Treasures for the Salon Table’), a publication of the ‘Photographische Kunstinrichting’ (‘Photographic Art Establishment’) of Binger & Chits, dates from 1871. It comprises a collection of albumen reproductions of anonymous paintings and drawings, accompanied by anecdotal texts written by Dr. E. Laurillard.

Binger also published individual reproductions mounted on cardboard, such as that of the painting De helden van de Slag bij Waterloo (‘The Heroes of the Battle at Waterloo’), which could be seen at the Welgelegen Pavilion in Haarlem. The reproduction dates from 1865.

In the 1860s, Binger devised a new and experimental photographic application that was also highly commercial: miniature photography. These miniature albumen prints in the format of a postage stamp were published in series. People could paste them into the accompanying albums, which were also released by Binger’s company. Probably around the early 1860s, he published Miniatuurbeelden en tafereelen voor het Miniaturen Album van Binger & Chits (‘Miniature Images and Scenes for the Miniatures Album of Binger & Chits’). For fifty cents, one could purchase twenty-five additional miniatures. A ‘Van Lennep’ album, as well published by Binger & Chits, and Regnib’s Miniaturen album voor „het jonge volkje” (‘Regnib’s Miniatures Album for “the young people”‘) followed. As with the popular postage stamps, the series also included miniatures depicting celebrities, cities, as well as portraits of family members and friends. Such miniatures were meant to inspire young people to trade with one another. The announcement that accompanied the Regnib Album’s publication stated that one could bring any random photo in a carte-de-visite format into the studio and have miniature prints made. In addition to miniature prints of other people’s photos, Binger also made miniatures of his own photos, such as topographic shots of Haarlem, which are also known in a bigger format. Binger’s studio also produced miniature photos for restaurant menus, letterheads, and pocket albums.

In Charles Binger’s life and work, the photography business and the printing company clearly complemented each other. This commercial collaboration between his businesses is evident in the products that were offered, for instance, as described in the year 1874: (concerning the) ‘favourably renowned photographic establishment of the HH Binger and Chits. You see, both store signs provide you with the necessary information, on one sign called “Reproductions and photographic enlargements”, and on the other, “Photography, Phototype and Art Plate Dealer.”‘ The letterheads for Binger’s ‘Photographic Establishment’ were lithographed and most likely also designed by Emrik & Binger.

It is difficult to assess Charles Binger’s precise artistic role, when considering the collaborative nature of these business operations, i.e. in Binger & Chits, with Munnich in Binger & Co, but also within the lithographic printing company Emrik & Binger. Clearly linked to Charles personally is his participation in various photographic associations and the exhibition circuit. Yet his role in these organisations was modest. He viewed photography—just as the printing profession—primarily as an artisanal enterprise and a source of income.

Emrik & Binger, the lithographic printing company that Binger ran in Haarlem with his business partner Emrik, flourished in the years 1853 to 1927, as did the graphics industry as a whole. The industrial expansion of Haarlem began to occur at an accelerated pace from 1870 onward. The city had always been a home to the art of printing, where the chromolithography of the company ‘L. van Leer en Co.’ and the printing plates of the chemigraphic ‘Kunstinriching Polygraph’ (‘Polygraph Art Establishment’) were well known. The increasing quality and quantity of photographic processes was leading to countless innovations, as well within the company of Emrik & Binger itself. In 1874, the company was described as a ‘favourably renowned lithographic establishment (…) of its kind certainly one of the most important industrial establishments (…) located in our fatherland. Modest and small from when it was established and in its scale, it expanded step by step, thanks to the perseverance and skills of its founders.’ Emrik & Binger’s focus was lithography. In the 1870s, there was a substantial amount of international interest in the company’s zinc printing technique, a variant of lithography that was easier to process. Due to its minimal vulnerability and the readily stackable thickness of the zinc plates, Emrik & Binger preferred using this technique for its orders coming from abroad. With the shift to cylinder presses and a desire to attract foreign clientele, the expansion of the printing company had become a necessity. Consequently, the entire block of buildings bound by the Gedempte Oude Gracht, Stoofsteeg and the Koningstraat was purchased. In 1906, the factory employed approximately two hundred people and operated with sixty-seven machines, of which forty-two were powered by steam and electricity. Emrik & Binger reproduced all kinds of images, ‘especially in the area of Art, Science, Industry and Education.’ Illustrations for books and magazines such as the Tijdschrift voor Photographie (‘Magazine of Photography’), De Opmerker (‘The Observer’), Oud-Holland (‘Old Holland’), etc., made up an important part of the company’s production. In the second half of the nineteenth century, photomechanical prints replaced the photographic art reproductions on albumen paper, such as those initially produced by Charles Binger as well as other well-known photographers such as A. Jager and Pieter Oosterhuis.

Because his company focused entirely on the average taste of the broadest audience possible, Charles Binger’s photographic production contains few outstanding works. Such an approach was closely aligned to the way in which photography was generally perceived in the third quarter of the nineteenth century: as a technology and a branch of industry, similar to graphic and photomechanical processes. By combining his studio photography with his responsibilities as a partner at Emrik & Binger, Charles Binger is the classic embodiment of this perception. Accordingly, what makes Binger an interesting figure in the history of photography is not so much the quality of his work, but above all the fact that he established a photolithographic company, where the newest photomechanical technologies were introduced.


Primary bibliography

Miniatuurbeelden en tafereelen voor het miniaturenalbum van Binger & Chits, Haarlem (Binger & Chits) z.j.

Photographisch Album naar schetsen en teekeningen van levende meesters, Amsterdam (Gebroeders Binger) 1865.

Regnib’s miniaturen-album. Om te verzamelen. 1000 Miniatuurbeelden en tafereelen, Haarlem (Binger & Chits) z.j. (ca. 1867).

Album van photographiën, naar schetsen en teekeningen van levende meesters, opgedragen aan H.M. de Koningin, Haarlem (Binger & Chits) 1870.

Van Lennepalbum. Tafereelen en typen uit Mr. J. van Lennep’s romantische werken, Haarlem (Binger & Chits) 1870.

E. Laurillard (bijschriften), Kunst-juweeltjes voor de salon-tafel, Haarlem (Photographische Kunstinrichting van Binger & Chits) z.j. (1871).

Advertentie in Fotografisch Jaarboek 1891, p.XII.

Advertentie in Lux (oktober 1891) 1, p. 39.

Bouwwerken uitgevoerd door de leden der Maatschappij, ter gelegenheid van het vijftigjarig jubileum der Maatschappij tot Bevordering der Bouwkunst, Amsterdam/ Haarlem, 1892.

Advertentie in Fotografisch Jaarboek 1893-94, p. 167.

Advertentie in Fotografisch Jaarboek 1895, p. 167.


images in:

Kees Nieuwenhuijzen (samenstelling),

Haarlem en Zuid-Kennemerland in 19 de eeuwse foto’s, Amsterdam (Van Gennep) 1975, afb. 9, 24,62, 104.

Secondary bibliography

Auteur onbekend, Bij de illustratiën, in Lux 3 (oktober 1891) 1, p. 31.

Auteur onbekend, Een wandeling op de fotografische tentoonstelling sept.-oct. 1891, in Lux 3 (november 1891) 2, p. 56.

Chr.J. S., De tentoonstelling van fotografie en aanverwante kunstnijverheid, in Lux 3 (september 1892) 12, p. 374.

Meinard van Os, Tentoonstelling ter bevordering van de belangen der fotografie te Haarlem, in het lokaal „Felix Favore” 27 mei-juni 1893, in Lux 4 (juni 1893) (tentoonstellingsbijvoegsel).

Michel Ameschot, Verslag van het verhandelde op de maandelijksche bijeenkomst van 21 febr. 1894, in Lux 5 (maart 1894) 6, p. 181-182.

Meinard van Os, Internationale tentoonstelling tot bevordering der photographie, Groningen, 2-10 juni 1894, in Lux 5 (juli 1894) 10, p. 349.

L.H., Internationale fotografietentoonstelling 14 tot en met 29 juli 1894 in Musis Sacrum te Arnhem, in Weekblad voor Fotografie 1 (16 juli 1894) 28a (extra nummer), p. 126.

Auteur onbekend, Gemengde mededeelingen, in Lux 6(1 mei 1895) 8, p. 318.

Auteur onbekend, Internationale fotografietentoonstelling Amsterdam, 8-22 september, in Lux 6 (15 september 1892) 6, p. 489.

Barend Groote, Fotografie tentoonstelling, in Lux 7(1 juni 1896) 6, p. 357.

(Brochure) Haarlem als industriestad, Haarlem (Maatschappij voor Nijverheid) 1906.

F. Allan, Geschiedenis en beschrijving van Haarlem van de vroegste tijden tot op onze dagen, 4dln., Haarlem 1973, dl. I, p. 197 en dl. IV, p. 668-674. (eerder verschenen zonder inleiding 1874-1888).

Ingeborg Th. Leijerzapf (red.), Fotografie in Nederland 1839-1920, Den Haag (Staatsuitgeverij) 1978, p.91.

Robbert van Venetië en Annet Zondervan, Geschiedenis van de Nederlandse architectuurfotografie, Rotterdam (Uitgeverij 010) 1989, p. 64-65, 136.


Nederlandsche maatschappij ter bevordering van nijverheid.

Commissie van bijstand, Tentoonstelling van photographie en aanverwante kunstnijverheid, Den Haag, september 1892.

AAFV, vanaf 25 november 1896.


1861 Bekroning, Brussel (Emrik & Binger).

1861 Bekroning, Nationale tentoonstelling, Haarlem (Emrik & Binger).

1869 Bekroning, Groningen (Binger’s Photogr. Inrichting).

1873 Bekroning, Wenen (Binger’s Photogr. Inrichting).

1891 Zilveren medaille (Afdeeling A, Vakfotografen), Internationale tentoonstelling tot bevordering der fotografie, Amsterdam (Emrik & Binger).

1892 Eerediploma, Tentoonstelling van photographie en aanverwante kunstnijverheid (gehouden door de Haagsche afdeeling der Vereeniging tot bevordering van fabrieks- en handwerksnijverheid), Scheveningen (Emrik & Binger).

1893 Verguld zilveren medaille (Afdeeling C, Grafische kunsten), Tentoonstelling ter bevordering van de belangen der fotografie, Haarlem (Emrik & Binger).

1894 Zilveren medaille (3e Afdeeling Reproducties, verkregen naar photographische negatieven door mechanische drukmethoden), Internationale tentoonstelling tot bevordering der photographie, Groningen (Emrik & Binger).

1894 Eere-diploma (Afdeeling E), Internationale fotografietentoonstelling, Arnhem (Emrik & Binger).

1895 Eere-diploma, Internationale fotografietentoonstelling, Amsterdam (Emrik & Binger).


1861 (g) Brussel, (Emrik & Binger).

1861 (g) Haarlem, (Nationale tentoonstelling), (Emrik & Binger).

1869 (g) Groningen.

1873 (g) Wenen.

1891 (g) Amsterdam, Militiezaal, Internationale tentoonstelling tot bevordering der fotografie, (Emrik & Binger).

1892 (g) Scheveningen, Feestzaal der Internationale Sport-, Visscherij- en Paardententoonstelling, Tentoonstelling van fotografie en aanverwante kunstnijverheid, (Emrik & Binger).

1893 (g) Haarlem, lokaal „Felix Favore”, Tentoonstelling ter bevordering van de belangen der fotografie, (Emrik & Binger).

1894 (g) Groningen, De Harmonie, Internationale tentoonstelling tot bevordering der photographie, (Emrik & Binger).

1894 (g) Arnhem, Musis Sacrum, Internationale fotografie-tentoonstelling, (Emrik & Binger).

1895 (g) Amsterdam, Militiezaal, Internationale fotografie-tentoonstelling, (Emrik & Binger).

1896 (g) Haarlem, Sociëteit „Vereeniging”, Internationale tentoonstelling ter bevordering der fotografie en aanverwante vakken, (Emrik & Binger).

1989 (g) Rotterdam, tentoonstellingsruimte Oude Binnenweg 113, Geschiedenis van de Nederlandse architectuurfotografie, (Emrik & Binger).


Haarlem, Gemeentearchief.

Leiden, Prentenkabinet, bibliotheek en documentatiebestand.


Den Haag, Haags Gemeentemuseum.

Haarlem, Gemeentearchief.

Leiden, Prentenkabinet van de Rijksuniversiteit.

Rotterdam, Historisch Museum der Stad Rotterdam.

Sittard, Limburgs Centrum voor Fotografie.