[The envelope for this letter is in a private collection:]
Hy Fox Talbot Esqre
My dear Sir
Using the liberty you were kind enough to give me, I would report my success in the first attempts at Talbotype <1>, which, as far as the ten sheets I reserved from your gift of 50, has been eminent:- & I have adhered chiefly to attempts upon the foliage, the vegetation of the island, grouping figures beneath it with peculiarly good effect - especially the fica d'India which appears to me to be exactly the prickly pear of Mexico on which grows the cochineal.
I have attempted to make some Calotype paper, selecting sheets amongst the different papers I could get - & about one in ten or twelve, succeeds tolerably well, - manipulated by Mr Jones <2>' memoranda - but certainly not one unspotted:- all fatal to the positive copies - yet they are equally sensitive with your own. -
As for the copying paper <3>, I fail altogether - with the recipe given by Mr Jones: that is, the salted paper washed with the nit. silv: ammonia: nit. acid - & dist. water. - <4>
-Upon two of your sheets of iodised paper <5>, (prepared immediately before use with the usual mixture of nit. silv. & gall. acid) I have taken two most perfect positive copies from my own negatives on the same paper. -
But I do earnestly entreat of you the favor of further instructions therein - so that I may prepare my own copying paper. -
I took the liberty lately of begging your order to Henneman <6> to send me a larger quantity of the calotype paper of first quality which I may take to Greece, & Syria, &, if you will allow me, I will send to you the best negatives, or such as I conceive will most interest you: but still I should like to be able to make my own paper, upon necessity - & certainly to make sufficiently good copying paper: which seems hitherto the most difficult of all. -
I think my instrument is quite as good as Mr Jones':- & my chemicals, from Chevalier <7>, excellent - so that this failure is most strange with making my own calotype, & copying, papers.
I have instructed my Brother <8>, at 54 Torrington Sqre, London, to pay for, & forward quickly, all that Henneman may sent to him for me: & I wait impatiently for it. -
Mr Talbott's [sic] dear infant <9> I saw on board the French steamer a few days ago, in better health, to join her father in Naples: but from himself I have not yet heard since we parted. - No doubt he, & Mr Jones, are making good use of their time, & of the few sheets of paper I supplied them with, at Pompeii & Baiæ. -
I am going to Caletis[?], Athens, Baalbec & Damascus, in about 2 months. I hope when my boy, in the "Volage" <10>, will be on the survey at the former place. -
Most grateful shall I be for any hints, instructions, or commissions, from you, my dear Sir:
May I beg to be most kindly remembered to Mrs Talbott <11> [sic] - & your sweet Children - &
that that you will believe me, my dear Mr Talbott [sic],
most truly Yours
Geo W Bridges
1. Although WHFT modestly used the term calotype, Jones and other loyal supporters honoured him by calling these Talbotypes, in parallel with the term Daguerreotype.
2. Rev Calvert Richard Jones (1802-1877), Welsh painter & photographer.
3. This was WHFT's original photogenic drawing paper, a print-out paper ideal for making positive copies of the calotype negatives.
4. Silver nitrate, ammonia, nitric acid and distilled water.
5. Same as 'copying paper'.
6. Nicolaas Henneman (1813-1898), Dutch, active in England; WHFT's valet, then assistant; photographer.
7. Charles Chevalier (1804-1859), optician, Paris, from whom Bridges bought a camera while in Paris on his way to Malta.
8. John W. Bridges.
9. The daughter of Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot (1803-1890), immensely wealthy landowner, mathematician & politician; WHFT's Welsh cousin.
10. Capt. William Wilson Somerset Bridges (1831-1889), RN. He was serving on the ships Volage and Hibernia, surveying different parts of the Mediterranean.
11. Constance Talbot, née Mundy (1811-1880), WHFT's wife.