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Document number: 8721
Date: 27 Jun 1863
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: SMYTH Charles Piazzi
Collection: National Science and Media Museum, Bradford
Collection number: 1937-5428
Collection 2: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection (envelope)
Collection number 2 historic: Acc 21778 (envelope)
Last updated: 25th February 2016

[headed notepaper:]
Royal Observatory, Edinburgh

June 27 1863

Dear Sir,

Your obliging offer to re-engrave the Guajara,<1> if the present plate wears out, has much relieved me: for though Mr. Banks<2> will not say when (after how many copies) it is likely to be effête, yet he seems very positive that the whole number required can by no means be expected.

He has now lettered the plate, & furnished a proof wherein the mountain comes out even better than in your own proof: and he is to put paper in to soak on Monday, & begin to print on Tuesday. The tint printing is also decided on; and if it really makes the plate look better, as he says, it should look very well indeed, and will be a great thing for poor old Gaujara,

I remain dear sir yours very truly
C. Piazzi Smyth

H. Fox Talbot Esqr

[envelope, flap imprinted "Royal Observatory Edinburgh":]
H. Fox Talbot Esqr FRS.
Millburn Tower
near Edinburgh.


1. This refers to the photoglyphic engraving plate that WHFT made for Smyth's report on his 1856 expedition to Teneriffe. The photogravure was published along with several albumen prints. As Smyth astutely observed in his introduction, “To the inventor alike of photography and photoglyphy, it must be comparatively indifferent by which of his two methods these unusual Teneriffe landscapes are introduced into this book, though to readers in a future century it may make a great difference; for the photoglyph must last as long as the paper it is printed on, but the photograph may go the way of some of those beautiful specimens exhibited last year at the International Exhibition, and which faded before the eyes of the nations then assembled.” Charles Piazzi Smyth, Astronomical Observations Made at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh, vol. XII1, 1855-1859 (Edinburgh: Neill and Co., 1863). For a fuller discussion of Talbot’s experiments in this period, see Larry J. Schaaf, “Piazzi Smyth at Teneriffe: Part 2, Photography and the Disciples of Constable and Harding,” History of Photography, v. 5 no. 1, January 1981, pp. 27-50.

2. Alexander Banks, of the Engraving, Lithographic & General Printing Office, Edinburgh.

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