On the chemical action of the rays of the solar spectrum. . . .

Publisher Information: London: 1840. 1st edition.

"Positive" & "Negative"

Herschel, John F. W. (1792-1871). On the chemical action of the rays of the solar spectrum on preparations of silver and other substances, both metallic and non-metallic, and on some photographic processes. In: Philosophical Transactions (1840),part 1, pp. 1-59; 2 plates (nos. I-II). 4to. xii, 224 [4]pp. 6 plates numbered I-V, VII. London: Richard & John E. Taylor, 1840. 297 x 234 mm. (uncut & unopened). Original printed wrappers, a little soiled & chipped. Fine copy.

First Edition. Herschel's classic paper contains the first use of the terms "positive" and "negative" in connection with photography, as well as a detailed account of the use of hyposulfite of soda as a fixative, his observation of the superior light-sensitivity of bromide of silver, a description of his first experiments with photography in solar spectroscopy, his process (anticipating Bayard) for obtaining direct positive proofs on paper, the necessity of using achromatic lenses for correct delineation, etc.

Herschel's paper represents "a densely packed comprehensive summary" (Schaaf, p. 94) of the intensive researches in photography that had occupied him during 1839 and 1840, when he and his friend Henry Fox Talbot were striving to steal a march on Daguerre and the French by perfecting the process of making and fixing photographic images on paper that Talbot had begun developing some seven years before (see Schaaf, Out of the Shadows, chs. 3-5 for a detailed discussion of Herschel's photographic researches, including excerpts from his unpublished scientific notebooks and his lengthy correspondence with Talbot).>/p>

This paper marks Herschel's first major contribution to photography; it was preceded only by his "Note on the art of photography or the application of the chemical rays of light to the purpose of pictorial representation" (1839), the precursor to a paper that Herschel later withdrew from publication. The paper is included in anattractive issue of the Philosophical Transactions, which also contains the sixteenth and seventeenth series of Faraday's "Experimental researches in electricity" (see Horblit 29; PMM 308), and Sabine's "Contributions to terrestrial magnetism."

Gernsheim, History of Photography, pp. 96-98 ("abounds in important statements and observations which had a great bearing on the future of photography"); Gernsheim, Incunabula of British Photographic Literature, 1068. Boni, p. 127.

Book Id: 50511

Price: $1,200.00

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