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Document number: 5632
Date: 23 Apr 1846
Postmark: 27 Apr 1846
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: BRIDGES George Wilson
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA46-52
Collection 2: PRIVATE
Collection 2 number: FT11406
Last updated: 15th February 2012

[The envelope for this letter is in a private collection:]
Hy Fox Talbot Esqre
Lacock Abbey
Chippenham
Wilts
England

_________

Malta -
23rd April

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 & Bai. -

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

I have not Henneman's address - shall I forward to you, the specimens I wish to send? -

Notes:

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, ne Mundy (1811-1880), WHFT's wife.

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