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Document number: 8670
Date: 18 Mar 1863
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: SMYTH Charles Piazzi
Collection: National Science and Media Museum, Bradford
Collection number: 1937-5419
Last updated: 19th November 2012

[printed notepaper:]
1 Hillside Crescent, Edinburgh

18 March 1863

My dear Sir,

Herewith I have the pleasure of sending you in a bin, the glass Teneriffe plate desired for the Astronomical volume, and also, in consequence of what you kindly said yesterday, a second plate of the same view, but from a different negative.<1>

Both plates are sadly full of faults spots & accidents; but yet I trust that all these can be eliminated by the method of comparing together the two different plates of the same subject, & much more completely and certainly than by any rectification by hand performed on one of them, or by the vain task of seeking a perfect photograph.

It will be duly mentioned in the book how imperfect were the photographs put into your hand.


Yours very truly
C. Piazzi Smyth


1. This refers to the photoglyphic engraving plate that WHFT made for Smyth's report on his 1856 expedition to Teneriffe. The photogravure was published along with several albumen prints. As Smyth astutely observed in his introduction, “To the inventor alike of photography and photoglyphy, it must be comparatively indifferent by which of his two methods these unusual Teneriffe landscapes are introduced into this book, though to readers in a future century it may make a great difference; for the photoglyph must last as long as the paper it is printed on, but the photograph may go the way of some of those beautiful specimens exhibited last year at the International Exhibition, and which faded before the eyes of the nations then assembled.” Charles Piazzi Smyth, Astronomical Observations Made at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh, vol. XII1, 1855-1859 (Edinburgh: Neill and Co., 1863). For a fuller discussion of Talbot’s experiments in this period, see Larry J. Schaaf, “Piazzi Smyth at Teneriffe: Part 2, Photography and the Disciples of Constable and Harding,” History of Photography, v. 5 no. 1, January 1981, pp. 27-50.

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