Millburn Tower <1>Hermiston
I enclose a specimen of my photoglyphic engraving representing a fernleaf.<2> Would you like to insert it in the next No of the Journal <3> of which you are Editor? with a brief explanation? If so, I could give you the plate, which is a steel one & therefore it can give numerous impressions. I think that you published a year or two ago a plate I made for Profr C. P. Smyth <4> representing two young dragontrees at Teneriffe <5> –It was not a good one, the original photograph being very indifferent.
This fern leaf is quite opaque, but if I had a transparent one I could make an engraving showing the veins and fructification.
I remain Dr Sir Yours vy truly
H. F. Talbot
[on blank side of folded sheet in JHB’s hand:]1863.
H Fox Talbot
1. Millburn Tower, Gogar, just west of Edinburgh; the Talbot family made it their northern home from June 1861 to November 1863. It is particularly important because WHFT conducted many of his photoglyphic engraving experiments there. The house had a rich history. Built for Sir Robert Liston (1742-1836), an 1805 design by Benjamin Latrobe for a round building was contemplated but in 1806 a small house was built to the design of William Atkinson (1773-1839), best known for Sir Walter Scott’s Abbotsford. The distinctive Gothic exterior was raised in 1815 and an additional extension built in 1821. Liston had been ambassador to the United States and maintained a warm Anglo-American relationship in the years 1796-1800. His wife, the botanist Henrietta Liston, née Marchant (1751-1828) designed a lavish American garden, sadly largely gone by the time the Talbots rented the house .
2. This was published as "Photoglyphic Engraving of a Fern" in the Transactions of the Botanical Society (Edinburgh), v. 7, June 1863, pl. 14, p. 559. WHFT had earlier published in the same journal "Young Dragon trees, near Orotava, Teneriffe," March 1859, pl. 6.
4. Prof Charles Piazzi Smyth (1819–1900), photographer & Astronomer Royal for Scotland.