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Document number: 8716
Date: 04 Jun 1863
Dating: 1863?
Recipient: BALFOUR John Hutton
Author: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Collection: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Collection number: Balfour Corr v. XI T13
Last updated: 5th August 2010

Millburn Tower <1>
June 4

Dr Sir

I find I have not much to say, <2> to accompany my little engraving of the fern leaf.

Perhaps you would kindly verbally mention that I am trying to engrave <3> botanical specimens – Those from the Herbarium are generally opaque, like this fern leaf, but engravings of freshly gathered specimens often exhibit the venation of the leaves in a very delicate manner.

The printing from the plates requires particular management. The specimen sent, was printed by Mr Banks <4> Waterloo place, Edinburgh. Would you like the remainder of the impression to be printed by him?

Believe me Yours very truly
H. F. Talbot

Professor Balfour


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. See Doc. No: 08663 of 3 June 1863, to which this is the reply.

3. His photoglyphic engraving. WHFT 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. William Banks (b. 1809), engraver, Edinburgh.

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