Autograph letter signed to Alfred Swaine Taylor, discussing "photogenic drawing."

Autograph letter signed to Alfred Swaine Taylor, discussing "photogenic drawing."

Publisher Information: London: 1839.

Brande, William Thomas (1788-1866). Autograph letter signed to Alfred Swaine Taylor (1806-80). 4pp. [London] The Royal Mint, 21 October 1839. 233 x 185 mm. Last page a bit dust-soiled, but very good otherwise. Docketed in Taylor’s hand.

Letter discussing “photogenic drawing” from chemist William Thomas Brande to toxicologist and forensic expert Alfred Swaine Taylor, who was also a pioneer in photography. Taylor began experimenting with photography in early 1839, shortly after Daguerre and Fox Talbot announced the discoveries of their respective photographic methods. He invented a way to produce photographic paper by impregnating it with ammoniacal silver nitrate and was one of the first to use photography to “photocopy” prints. In 1840 Taylor published his findings in a pamphlet titled On the Art of Photogenic Drawing, which included instructions on how make photographs using his methods. The first part of Brande’s letter, written in the fall of 1839, reads:

Many thinks my dear sir for your kind note. I will send a proper messenger to your house for the photogenic drawings, which will be truly acceptable, as I have sadly failed in the greater number of my attempts. I cannot get an even ground, except upon bibulous paper, and that will not admit of the due washing requisite for fixing the image—the truth is I want tact and practice, and hope that some day when a part of my labours has been transferred to my colleague, that you will allow me to see you go through the whole operation. Your sample of the chromate is not very promising, but I should thing that some other chromate, or ammoniacal solution perhaps of a chromate—or a manganesate, may be found, to vary the monotony of nitrate of silver. I forgot to ask you how the ammoniacal solution of chloride of silver answers. I dare say you have used it.

The remainder of Brande’s letter contains detailed descriptions, illustrated with drawings, of ways to demonstrate the circulation of heat in liquids. Brande succeeded Humphry Davy as professor of chemistry at the Royal Institution in 1813 and also held high-ranking posts at the Royal Mint; his Manual of Chemistry (1819; 6th ed. 1848) was the leading chemistry textbook of its day. He would later collaborate with Taylor on the textbook Chemistry (1863). Barrell, Fatal Evidence: Professor Alfred Swaine Taylor & the Dawn of Forensic Science, pp. 26-29. Taylor and Schaaf, Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives, 1840-1860, p. 378.

Book Id: 44795

Price: $950.00

See all items by