The William Henry Fox Talbot Catalogue Raisonné


Object within Schaaf no. 1375

Notes & transcript of a letter relating to hieroglyphics

Object details

Alternate titles

"The Talbotype Applied to Hieroglyphics", Plate 3

Image size: h 17.2cm x w 19.7cm

Paper size: h 17.6cm x w 19.7cm

Object Type: Paper Negative-Contact

Physical description: waxed

Matilda Talbot 1934

Owner: National Science and Media Museum

Object owner number: 1937-4182

Collection: Science Museum Collection

This object is part of Schaaf no. 1375

Notes & transcript of a letter relating to hieroglyphics

Keywords: Egypt Egyptology

Talbot was keen to apply photography to the reproduction of both images and text. He freely gave permission to the Devonshire-born, George Robbins Gliddon (1809-1857), an Egyptologist and American diplomat, to use photography. He had Nicolaas Henneman produce prints for, "The Talbotype Applied to Hieroglyphics", (Reading, 1846). This comprised of three photographs of hieroglyphs and his text (see Ricardo A. Caminos, "The Talbotype Applied to Hieroglyphics," 'Journal of Egyptian Archaeology', v. 52, 1966, pp. 65-70, Plates XIII-XV).

The ink ‘originals’ and accompanying loose photographic prints are in the Science Museum's collection at the National Museum of Science and Media in Bradford (previously known as the National Media Museum). Caminos had thought that the items in Bradford were unique survivors as a copy in the British Library was lost to the Blitz. However, several other copies have been subsequently discovered. Three are in the Richard Lepsius collection in the State Library of Berlin. Gliddon dedicated one copy to Lepsius on 18 August 1846, and another (undated) to Joseph Bonomi. The third copy is not inscribed. On 18 August 1846, Gliddon dedicated a copy to the French Egyptologist, Émile Prisse d’Avennes (1807-1879). It is bound into v. 219 of his diaries in the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris.

A single plate is preserved in the Library Company of Philadelphia in the collection of Samuel Morton (1819-1850), a craniologist and ethnologist. On 17 June 1846, Gliddon wrote to Morton about Talbot’s new invention, enthusing that, “if you introduced the Talbotype at Philadelphia, you need no longer employ an Artist in Skull-drawing, but save great expense and ensure supernatural accuracy in your Plates. Tis worth your consideration; for you can multiply ‘ad infinitum,’ at the mere cost of iodized paper.”