The William Henry Fox Talbot Catalogue Raisonné


Object within Schaaf no. 2468

An experiment towards the calotype

Object details

Created: 22 Sep 1840

Image size: h 9.5cm x w 11.5cm

Object Type: Paper Negative-Camera

Physical description: image obliterated; one upper corner clipped

Inscription: in turquoise ink, New paper Sept 22/40 2' fx Iod [New paper, 22 September 1840, 2 minute exposure, fixed, Iodine]; in pencil, Sept 23 washed with E & brought out by spont.

Watermark: J What

Watermark (expanded): J Whatman

The British Library, gift of Janet and Petronella Burnett-Brown, 1 March 2006
Fox Talbot Museum, Lacock Abbey, National Trust (00436)

Owner: The British Library

Object owner number: Talbot Photo 3(35)

Collection: Talbot Collection

Supporting images

Associated note by Harold White

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This object is part of Schaaf no. 2468

An experiment towards the calotype

Keywords: Experimental

A note typed by Harold White to accompany this image states, "Though the image is lost, this is a very important item. Fox Talbot [sic], in a letter to the Literary Gazette dated 5th Feb. 1841 states that the first discovery of his Calotype Process was made on Sept. 20th 1840. This paper is dated Sept 22nd. 1840. Added in pencil is- "Sept 23 washed with E & brought out by spont.". This may be taken to read 'washed with exciting liquid & [image] brought out spontaneously'. The exciting liquid was the sensitiser containing gallic acid. On the 19th. Feb. he again wrote to the Literary Gazette stating that after making some tests, a blank piece of paper which had been treated was left lying upon a table, and some time later he was surprised to see upon it a very distinct picture. His conclusion was "- that the picture had unexpectedly developed itself by a spontaneous action. This is probably the paper referred to."

For more information see a project blog post which features this image, together with an earlier project blog post dedicated to the Calotype.

Image from the collections of the British Library (usage terms: Public Domain)