2d Feby 1847
My dear Sir/
You see I find a difficulty in making the architectural views so as to join <1> correctly – the optical convergence seeming to render it impossible – unfortunately too my labours are stayed in the outset for the last 350 sheets of iodised paper sent by Mr Cowderoy <2> are so bad that I am unwilling to waste my chemicals upon them. It appears as if the paper had been greasy, the iodising preparation having missed in specks & spots, from the smallest size to that of a sixpence – evidently run off like water on wax, in round spots. – Not one of 17 sheets I tried will give any satisfactory result – & I am in such despair that I start tonight for Grigento & Palermo without my Camera – being called thither to meet some friends & Mr Blades kindly giving me a passage in his yacht, an offer I could not miss, tho’ I had rather have postponed it, being thus without materiel.
I have translated into Italian the coloured placards which Cowderoy sent – & named the views “ Pitture Solare” – “Talbotypes" - <3> & they seem to be selling well. – If I find more at Palermo & Naples, I will tell the Librarians there to apply for some – I wish Cowderoy had sent to me more of those coloured notices for the shops -<4> I sent him last Mail an order on my brother <5> for his bill of £10 · 13 · 6. – I shall be detained a month or so in Sicily & Naples, & am much vexed that I cannot profit by the visit as I hoped when I ordered such a provision of paper – he forgot also the hyp. sulph. soda, <6> of which I am nearly out – & none to be had here – I am sorry too that I must go without the copies for my Sicilian friends, – the good monks <7> &c but will leave orders to have them sent after me, if they arrive by the expected Southampton steamer. – The “ Hibernia" <8> is still detained at Lisbon – but I suppose may be here in March, when I shall probably accompany my boy to Greece, & thence proceed, in the Autumn, to Syria & Egypt. – A Baron Borgia, Intendente of Sicily, will probably apply for your License & instructions – a great admirer of the art, – & much about the King -<9> It is certainly an aristocratic art – rather expensive I find it in itself, & certainly the expence of locomotion [illegible] – but it is the most astonishing of modern times, & immortalises the name of its Inventor, who adds so eminently to science, & gives another gratification of time & taste –
I have not forgotten the gratitude I owe to you, my dear Sir, for your kind offer of aid to my poor boy through Lord Auckland <10>– for there centres all my hope: but when I can no longer see, or be useful to him here, I shall return to the backwoods of Canada Alas! that the art should fail, as I fear, in the moving waters of Niagara! – but there is much of still scenery there worthy of it – a bright sky too, & a deathlike stillness of the air. – I hope you will permit me still to correspond with you across the Atlantic – &, with my best respects to Mrs Talbot, <11> & love to your dear Children pray believe me, my dear Sir,
most truly Yours
G W Bridges –
[added across outside opposite address panel:]
Etna seeds of a long-podded wild vine which will cover a large space
H Fox Talbot Esqre
1. Method of taking two or more adjoining views, called ‘Panoramic Joiners’, an invention of Rev Calvert Richard Jones (1802–1877), Welsh painter & photographer. Jones was at Malta when Bridges arrived and he taught Bridges to photograph, in April 1846 Jones went to Italy and then home. See Larry J. Schaaf, Sun Pictures Catalogue Five: The Reverend Calvert R. Jones (New York: Hans P. Kraus, Jr, 1990), pp. 30–31 and 38–39.
2. Benjamin Cowderoy (1812–1904), land agent in Reading; business manager for WHFT; later a politician in Australia, who amongst others supplied Bridges at Malta with paper prepared for photographic use.
3. Although WHFT modestly used the term calotype, Jones and other loyal supporters honoured him by calling these Talbotypes, in parallel with the term Daguerreotype.
4. This was a red and blue printed poster advertising Speimens of the Talbotype or Sun Pictures intended to be displayed at a point of sale. Many years later, Cowderoy proudly pointed back at this, saying "I do not think it could be excelled as an example of coloured typography even...today." Cowderoy, "The Talbotype or Sun Pictures, and the Jubilee of Photography," Photography, 6 June 1895, p. 363. One is reproduced as plate 31 in Larry J. Schaaf, Sun Pictures Catalogue 15: From Talbot to Turner (New York: Hans P. Kraus, Jr., Inc., 2006.
5. John Bridges.
6. Hypo sulphate soda or hypo.
8. Capt. William Wilson Somerset Bridges (1831-1889), RN, Bridges’s son, was serving in the navy on the ships Volage and Hibernia surveying the Mediterranean.
9. Ferdinand II (1810–1859).
10. George Eden, 1st Earl of Auckland (1784–1849), Governor General of India.
11. Constance Talbot, née Mundy (1811–1880), WHFT’s wife.