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Document number: 5951
Date: 23 May 1847
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: BRIDGES George Wilson
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA47-51
Last updated: 27th February 2016

Malta –
23d May 1847

My dear Sir/

Many thanks for your letter of 6th & the promise of the Copies – I trust they will come by the expected steamer – as on the 3rd June I am off again for my Convent on Etna -<1> & with your kind present of paper will try the Crater again <2> – & probably go on for another week or two to finish Pompeii & Pζstum. – I long since sent to you from thence some of the spotted specimens of Cowderoy’s <3> bad paper. & since some of the good negatives, & my bad copies. – The king of Naples <4> was so pleased with one of them, that he has given me permission to copy, move or measure throughout the kingdom – of which I shall again take advantage. –

Muir <5> says that he did, long since, write to Cowderoy to acknowledge the receipt of copies – I fear some of them are fading fast – one, of the Church, &c hanging in my room here, is nearly gone out – & some in his shop getting very faint. – This is very discouraging – still more so that I cannot succeed myself in making good copies – that is, with any degree of certainty – I cannot discover what it is which influences the variety of colour – some so very red – others almost black – All come admirably from the copying frame – but fade, & get discoloured in the first washing with warm water. – It is the temperature of the water which requires to be exactly regulated? – A gentleman here is succeeding better than I do, by following the French method -<6> but of this I have already written to you.

When I return from Sicily in Sepbr I shall certainly go to Smyrna & probably to Syria. – & should be greatly obliged by any further instructions in the art, – previous to my going –

I will again try the panoramic plan of<7>

1 2
3 4

– but I sent you long since a specimen of my ill success therein – the instrument [illegible] working then level – or perpendicular – but the uprights diverging – I mean of architecture, near: as you speak of a Cathedral. – That of Malta harbour was, I suspect, a mere accident, which I can’t repeat – in fact paper is too scarce to waste of experiments. – I trust however they shall now be repeated. –

My friends in Sicily are impatient for the many copies I promised them last year, & which they assisted me in. – Letters will reach me there, directed here, as usual. – I remain, my dear Sir

Yours obliged
Geo W Bridges

I sent you lately one or two good copies – & have made a few which I shall take to the King of Naples, (of Pompeii) – who is infinitely pleased even with the negatives – especially those of the frescoes <8> lately discovered. – I beg’d your opinion of those I sent to you, whether long enough in Camera – I fear you have not received them – neither the seeds -<9> & one of a palm tree – but I had little sun there in february – & so am anxious to return & try again – Yet I want your instructions sadly – as well as the paper & copies – I also ventured to promised my good Mother at Box that you would send her a few copies of mine – which she anxiously looks for. –

H. Fox Talbot Esqre
Lacock Abbey
Athenζum Club


1. The Benedict Convent of St Nicolo d’Arena near Catania, where Bridges had escaped the summer heat in 1846. [See Doc. No: 05714].

2. See Doc. No: 05759.

3. Benjamin Cowderoy (1812–1904), land agent in Reading; business manager for WHFT; later a politician in Australia; Cowderoy had sent Bridges paper prepared for calotyping, but Bridges was not at all satisfied with the quality of the paper. [See Doc. No: 05871].

4. Ferdinand II (1810–1859).

5. 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 Cowderoy or Nicolaas Henneman (1813–1898), Dutch, active in England; WHFT’s valet, then assistant; photographer.

6. See Doc. No: 05932.

7. Also called Panoramic Joiners, which were photographs taken so that they could be joined into a panorama, these were first thought of by Calvert Richard Jones, who was at Malta when Bridges arrived and taught him to photograph. 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.

8. Possibly “House of the Tragic Poet” or “House of Sallust”, which had already been photographed by Jones.

9. See Doc. No: 05946.

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