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Document number: 6803
Date: 21 May 1853
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: LINDLEY John
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Last updated: 11th July 2010

Horticultural Society <1>
21, Regent Street. May 21 1853

My Dear Sir

I will see what can be done to replace your Tacsonia.

If you intend to apply yr discovery <2> to purposes of publication I dare say grains wd be as good subjects as you cd choose. But until surface, as well as outline can be rendered by the process I fear that any sun etching <3> will have very little scientific value: <4> for I do not see how you can shew any thing beyond form and ramification

Yours faithfully
John Lindley


W. H. Fox Talbot Esq
Lacock Abbey


1. Horticultural Society of London.

2. Photographic engraving, a process that Talbot had patented the previous year: WHFT, Improvements in Photographic Engraving, November 1852.

3. Talbot’s process involved two parts. In part 1, a steel plate is coated with a combination of gelatine and potassium bichromate, which hardens according to the degree to which it is exposed to light. A photographic exposure is made on to this coated plate. The mixture that has not reacted to light is then washed off, leaving a coating of hardened gelatine on the plate. In the second part, a suitable etchant is poured on to the plate, biting into the steel wherever this is not still coated with the gelatine. See Doc. No: 07253.

4. See also Doc. No: 03895 for the comments of Sir William Jackson Hooker (1785–1865), Prof & botanist on the limitations of photogenic drawing in botanical illustration.

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