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Document number: 6674
Date: 23 Aug 1852
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: BARCLAY George
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number: envelope 20566
Collection number historic: LA52-43
Last updated: 28th January 2012

22 Gerrard St
Augt 23 /52


A Wood Press small enough for those plates will cost I should imagine about £5 or perhaps six but the use of it will be harder work than you would like. an Iron which is comparatively easy “to pull” costs new about £18 these may sometimes be found quite as good second hand at about 12 or 14£ and are always worth money when done with tho the wood are not. However in any way what experience or knowledge I have is quite at your service

Have you any idea of the process of printing, any practical notion it is one of those things done so readily by practiced hands, that the difficulties found by an amateur are the more annoying

Firstly every printer makes his own ink there are no copper plate ink makers

The ink is made to suit the work fine or coarse i.e. ink thin or thick

And the “wiping” suits both

An over bit plate may be made to look under bit by wiping a strong bit reduced to a light one & of course in the hands of an amateur these results are likely to occur and mislead, this is inevitable, till practice perfect and your own are compared with the efforts of others from the same state

I see that you have in hand a principle to investigate in which it is not desirable of to have coeval investigators. Should you determine on a press being necessary these remarks of mine shall be cheerfully followed by others that the road may be rendered less uncertain than it otherwise would

Silver plate engravers are in the habit of taking plaster casts of their work which cannot from the forms on which it is executed be subjected to a press. The work is inked in – carefully wiped from the surface and the plaster poured on as if for a cast Do you manipulate well with Plaster? If so try this first I will send you down a box of ink but in the interim take a piece of cloth or cassimere <1> roll it tight. Tie a string round it cut one end perfectly flat [illustration labelled ‘1 inch’, ‘2 inches’] take a little dirty oil (off the oil stone) and rub it all over the plate equally hold the plate between a peice of tissue (white) paper and the light & you will obtain almost as good and as faithful an idea of your subject as if you had a good proof, certainly better than a bad one. Wipe the oil off the surface but not out of the work across not in the direction of the lines

Respectfully Yours
Geo Barclay

[print of Barclay’s trademark?– incomplete]

the white streaks across this are unskilfull [sic] wiping all the ink is removed out of that portion of the lines

H. F. Talbot Esqre
Lacock Abbey


1. A woolen suiting cloth of plain or twill weave – this word a nineteenth century variant of cashmere.

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