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Document number: 5932
Date: 01 May 1847
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: BRIDGES George Wilson
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA47-45
Last updated: 27th February 2016

Malta –
1st May

My dear Mr Talbot

I enclose specimens of my last new French plan -<1> not always so successful as these however Some in Naples have thus succeeded in short time 40" – by omitting the Gallic acid <2>in the preparation for camera – using it only, & alone, for bringing out the picture – and putting it into the camera not only wet, but with folds of wet linen behind it. – You would much oblige me if you would tell me whether you adopt this mode in your successful process – for none I see equal yours. – I am also very anxious to know whether you have shortened your time of exposure, & by what means – & that you should not think me impertinent in presuming to ask these questions & troubling you so often –

I regret to see that of the copies which Cowderoy <3> sent to Muir <4> here for sale, those which are exposed to the light, hung up in rooms, are fading fast. – My Pompean & Palermitan views may perhaps play me the same trick – at present they look pretty good in tone & colour, & I have more than one hundred of them. – I cannot discover why they sometimes turn so red in the washing, & hyp. sulph. <5> bath – or whether five minutes in the last be time enough to fix permanently. –

My sailor boy <6> has just now come up in the "Volage" & proceeds to Athens – I hope I may be able soon to join him there – & afterwards go on to Syria Palestine & Egypt – In the mean time I am trying to iodise some paper – for that of Cowderoy’s is quite inefficient: – but I succeed with scarcely one sheet in ten – the specimens I enclose are however on my own paper (the negatives) – The expence of the process thus alarms me

I lately took the liberty of writing to you, enclosing some seeds – more of such you shall have if worth the conveyance –

I am grieved to say that Cowderoy has never sent me any copies of the Etna views sent last October – nor of any of those since sent to him: – some of which my Sicilian friends are anxiously looking for. – I am, my dear Sir,

Your faithful & obedient Servt
Geo W Bridges

After all really the copying process seems the greatest difficulty – to get a good colour with any degree of certainty – & to be sure that you fix permanently – sometimes in the same water & process they come out of a warm sepia – sometimes of dark – oftener red, ill-defined – Why? Will you enlighten me on this point by your chemical knowledge & great experience?


1. This would have been the controversial method published by Louis Dιsirι Blanquart-Evrard (1802-1872), which echoed WHFT's calotype process but entirely failed to mention the inventor. See Roger Taylor and Mike Ware, " 'Pilgrims of the Sun'; The Chemical Evolution of the Calotype 1840-1852," History of Photography, v. 27 no. 4, Winter 2003, pp. 308-319.

2. The developing agent in the calotype process.

3. Benjamin Cowderoy (1812–1904), land agent in Reading; business manager for WHFT; later a politician in Australia.

4. Probably George Muir Jnr. (1813–1868), bookseller in Malta; Muir sold photographs taken by Rev Calvert Richard Jones (1802–1877), Welsh painter & photographer and Bridges, and printed by Nicolaas Henneman (1813–1898), Dutch, active in England; WHFT’s valet, then assistant; photographer or Cowderoy.

5. Hypo sulphite or hypo.

6. Capt. William Wilson Somerset Bridges (1831-1889), RN. He served on the ships Volage and Hibernia, surveying the Mediterranean.

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