Autograph letter signed re micrography. In folding case. Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Autograph letter signed re micrography. In folding case.

Publisher Information: Boston: 1895.

Holmes, Oliver Wendell (1809-94). Autograph letter signed to an unnamed correspondent. Bifolium (2pp.). Boston, 12 October 1892. 178 x 113 mm. Fine. Preserved in a cloth folding case.

Holmes, one of the foremost American writers, physicians and medical reformers of the 19th century, here discusses his enthusiasm for microphotography and micro-reproduction of texts:

". . . I have some curiosity in the way of microphotography and microscopy. I have a photography of such size that it is just covered by a common pin’s head. Under the microscope it shows with perfect clearness the following objects.

1. The Declaration of Independence, with the facsimile autographs of all the signers.

2. The coat of arms of all the original thirteen states.

3. Portraits of all the Presidents of the U.S. from Washington to James K. Polk.

4. A front view of the Capitol at Washington . . .

All this you can easily believe if you have been in the way of looking at microphotographs. But what do you say to this?

I have a photograph, or a copy of one taken from a copy of the Lord’s Prayer written on glass. The photograph is enlarged six hundred diameters, and the enlarged copy is legible with the naked eye. Now if the whole Bible could be written as small as this Lord’s Prayer is seven entire Bibles, Old and New Testament, could be written in the space of a square inch.

When I told this to Lord Houghton, he asked, with a wicked smile, “And the Apocrypha too?” . . .

But my eyes have grown dim and I have not used a microscope for ten years and more. I used often to show these things to visitors in my clear-seeing days . . ."

Microphotography was invented in the late 1830s and refined over the next decades to the point where microfilm was used in the 1870s during the Franco-Prussian War to send communications by carrier pigeon.

Book Id: 45670

Price: $750.00

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