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Document number: 5985
Date: 28 Aug 1847
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: BRIDGES George Wilson
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA47-70
Last updated: 27th February 2016

Convent of St Nicolo d'arena - Etna
28th Augt 1847

My dear Sir/

Your very kind letter expressing surprise at not having heard from me lately, found me, two weeks ago, at Ischia, whither I was obliged to fly from this place in June, to try the baths for a severe attack of sciatica - Two days ago I returned hither - & hasten to acknowledge one box containing copies, & your very kind present of iodised paper. - The other box may be arrived at Malta - but I have not yet heard of it -

In Naples I met with a Sig. Lechi, <1> a Milanese - who is teaching the art at 600 francs - one only lesson: - a poor Optician in Toledo, paid that sum - & by some means obtained the whole process in writing: - from him I have it & have seen some very superior negative & possitives worked by it: - but have yet been too ill to try it myself. I give you the copy overleaf - I have also seen very perfect portraits taken in 40" by Claudet's <2> wet process - equal to Daguerres <3> on metal in detail - I hope to try both methods before I leave the mountain, & to send you specimens - I observe in the copies you send me the skies are discoloured - & that none seem sufficiently cooked in Camera - a defect I will now try to remedy - Lechie's skies are perfect - & he succeeds on paper of very inferior quality - no spots seeming to appear, or injure the process.

Procèdé <4> de M. Lechie - poids napolitain

No 1 - 8 gram nit. d'argent - 10 oz. eau distillée -
2 - 5 gram iodine de potass. 10 oz. eau -
3 - 10 oz eau. avec une goutte bromine d'iode -
4 - 5 gram. nit argt 2 oz. eau - 15 gr. acide acétique
5 - 4 oz. eau satuire d'acide gallique
6 - 8 gr. bromine de potass. 4 oz. eau -
7 - forte dissolution de sel marin
8 - 5 gr muriate d'ammon. 4 oz. eau
9 - 8 gr. nit d'arg. 2 oz. eau
10 1 oz. hyposulp. de soude 10 oz. d'eau

Passer le papier au bain No 1 - 2 fois en le sechant dans le papier buvard - secher - passer au No 2 - ensuite laver a l'eau distille, et secher au papier buvard - Lorsque'on vent operer, on prend une feuille de papier préparé, on le trempe dans le No 3 - il devient noir - on le seche au papier buvard - ensuite on applique avec un pinceau une couche de No 4 et 5, parties égales - et on l'expose encore humide a la chambre obscura - L'epreuve obtenue on la met dans une assiette qui l'on echauffe doucement avec une lampe a esprit de vin, ou l'eau chaude - on passe avec un pinceau le No4 et 5 partis egales jusque a ce que l'image paraisse - on lave a grande eau, et on fixe avec No6, on laissant le papier pendant 12 min dans cette dissolution - on lave et on [illegible] le No7 chaud - on lave encore, et on séche avec de papier buvard

Reproduction -

On passe sur le feuille de papier avec un pinceau le No8 - on seche entre le papier buvard - ensuite on met deux couches de No9 en sechant chaque fois en papier buvard.

Certainly some few of his specimens are more perfect in detail than any I have seen - He is employed now by the King of Naples <5> in copying at Pompeii - but I have some 4 or 5 taken there equal to his. - His advantage seems to be that he makes use of any inferior paper, & is more certain of good productions. - I saw him take 14 one morning at Pompeii without one failure. - If you are writing to Mr Jones <6> pray communicate this - As he has been most kind in giving me all the information he could. - A M. Fays <7> a French amateur I saw much of in Naples - he paid for the process, & succeeds admirably - we went together to Porruchi[?] & Baica & on your last paper I also got some very good negatives in 3' and 4' - morning and evening - but the skies not so dark & uniform as his - nor so free from spots & blemishes - He also takes about the same time. -

At present I am too lame to attempt the Crater <8> again - but I hope to do so before I leave the mountain - for I see my negs give but poor impressions - the dark lava requiring double time. -

From hence all letters are very uncertain especially double ones - so I forbear enclosures - The police have been throwing Maltese letters & papers into the sea - afraid of the reports from Rome - In Calabria there is some stir <9>, but here all quiet - A very strong French fleet at Naples for some weeks past - but not an English ship nearer than Athens. - I am collecting a few seeds for you - & hope you will succeed with the beautiful tree broom, peculiar to Etna - how beautifully it would adorn the plantations of Lacock - & Bowood -<10>

I will take the liberty of writing again to you very shortly - and am my dear Sir very truly Yours
Geo W Bridges

My sailor boy <11> is in Smyrna just now - where I hoped to have joined him - but for the mischance - & proceed to Jerusalem & Egypt which it seems I am destined never to visit -

H. Fox Talbot Esquire
Lacock Abbey


1. Stefano Lecchi, a Milanese photographer now best known for his calotypes of the destruction caused by the short-lived 1849 Roman Republic. [See Doc. No: 05453 and Doc. No: 06013 ].

2. Antoine Françoise Jean Claudet (1797-1867), London; French-born scientist, merchant & photographer, resident in London.

3. Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre (1787-1851), French artist, showman & inventor.

4. 'Procèdé ... buvard' continues in French: Mr Lechée's[?] method - Neapolitan weights. [Table] No 1 - 8 grams of silver nitrate - 10 oz. distilled water - 2 - 5 grams of potassium iodine. 10 oz. water - 3 - 10 oz water. with a drop of iodine bromide - 4- 5 grams silver nitrate 2 oz. water - 15 gr. acetic acid. 5 - 4 oz. water saturated with gallic acid 6 - 8 gr. potassium bromide. 4 oz. water - 7- strong solution of sea salt 8 - 5 gr. muriate of ammonia 4 oz. water 9 - 8 gr. silver nitrate. 2 oz. water 10 1 oz. hyposulphate of soda 10 oz. of water. [End of table] Pass the paper in the bath of No 1 twice drying it in blotting paper- dry- pass in No 2- then wash in distilled water, and dry in blotting paper - When you want to operate, take a sheet of prepared paper, soak it in No 3 - it turns black - dry it in blotting paper - then apply with a paintbrush a layer of No 4 and 5, in equal parts - and expose the still humid sheet to the camera obscura - The specimen thus obtained is placed in a plate which is softly heated with a wine spirit lamp, or warm water - With a paintbrush apply equal measures of No 4 and 5 until the image appears - wash it with a good deal of water, and fix it with No 6, leaving the paper in this solution for 12 minutes - wash and [illegible] the warm No 7- wash again, and dry with blotting paper. Reproduction. Apply No 8 with a paintbrush to the paper- Dry between sheets of blotting paper- then apply two layers of No 9 drying each time with blotting paper.

5. Ferdinand II (1810-1859).

6. Rev Calvert Richard Jones (1802-1877), Welsh painter & photographer.

7. Possibly A. Fays, Baron of the Empire, French photographer active in the 1850s.

8. Bridges also stayed at the Convent in the summer of 1846 and photographed the crater of Etna on that occassion. [ See for instance Doc. No: 05714].

9. This was an unstable period for Italy, Ferdinand II only just avoided a revolution in Sicily the following year.

10. Bowood House, nr Calne, Wiltshire, 5 mi NE of Lacock: seat of the Marquess of Lansdowne.

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

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