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Document number: 3954
Date: 09 Oct 1839
Recipient: LUBBOCK John William
Author: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Collection: Royal Society, London
Collection number: LUB 38 T23
Last updated: 26th April 2010

31 Sackville St <1>
Oct. 9th

Dear Sir

As you have informed me that silvered paper <2> is found to answer I wish very much you would make a picture or two thereon & send them to me, as I have an idea that such might be successfully copied or transferred.

Any pictures will do for experiment, so that much time need not be spent upon them.

Some shops appear to me to sell tinned paper for silver, at least I found iodine had not the smallest effect on it, & that it had every external character of brightened tin, which untoward circumstance put an end to my experiments on the subject at that time.

I am returning to Lacock Abbey on Thursday, therefore if you could send me anything of the sort, transmit it by the Bath Coach.

I will look out and send you some pictures with the Solar Microscope (magnified lace; 100 & 400 times magnified in surface) <3> which I made about 3 months ago. Herschel <4> says he saw nothing like them in Paris, & Robert Brown <5> says the same.

Yours very truly
H. F. Talbot

I have received the silver plate <6> & am much obliged – Should you be writing to Paris for any more, I will thank you to order a couple of dozen for me –


1. 31 Sackville Street, London residence of the Feildings, often used as a London base by WHFT

2. In WHFT’s notebook ‘P’ for 18 August/11 September [P99] are remarks on his ideas for making such silvered paper, as well as a note to try the silvered paper sold in shops. See Larry J Schaaf, Records of the Dawn of Photography: Talbot's Notebooks P & Q (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).

3. WHFT sent four specimens of magnified lace to Sir John Frederick William Herschel (1792–1871), astronomer & scientist on 8 September. [See Doc. No: 03927]. All of these survive: ‘Lace in the Solar Microscope’, Museum of the History of Science, Oxford, Schaaf 3767 [reproduced in Larry J Schaaf Sun Pictures Catalogue 5: The Reverend Calvert Richard Jones (New York: Hans P Kraus, Jr, Inc, 1990), plate 6]; ‘Lace 100 times magnified, in surface H F Talbot Photogr. 1839’, NMeM, Bradford 1943–33/3, Schaaf 2275; ‘Lace in the Solar Microscope H F Talbot Phot 1839’, NMeM, Bradford, 1943–33/4, Schaaf 2274; ‘100 times magnified in surface H F Talbot photogr. 1839’, NMeM, Bradford, 1943–33/6, Schaaf 2250.

4. In his trip there in May of 1839, John Herschel had his first sight of a daguerreotype, and he wrote enthusiastically back to WHFT. See Doc. No: 03875. His response to WHFT’s magnified lace was very positive in Doc. No: 03931.

5. Possibly Robert Brown (1773–1858), botanist.

6. Lubbock did order daguerreotype plates from the establishment of Alphonse Giroux, some for himself, and a quantity for WHFT. See Doc. No: 03957. This was François-Simon-Alphonse Giroux, of Alphonse Giroux et cie, stationers in Paris. Giroux was related to Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre's wife and in August 1839 secured the exclusive contract to market daguerreotype cameras and outfits manufactured under Daguerre's supervision. With no optical experience, Giroux turned to Charles Chevalier to make the lenses.

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