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Henry Fox Talbot
A Fruit Piece
[The Pencil of Nature, Part 6, pl. 24]
Hans P. Kraus, Jr., Inc.
Taken from the reproductions in Larry J. Schaaf, H. Fox Talbot's The Pencil of Nature; Anniversary Facsimile (New York: Hans P. Kraus, Jr. Inc., 1989). The originals selected for this publication were the best single examples available for each plate. Not to be reproduced without permission of H.P. Kraus, Jr.
The number of copies which can be taken from a single original photographic picture, appears to be almost unlimited, provided that every portion of iodine has been removed from the picture before the copies are made. For if any of it is left, the picture will not bear repeated copying, but gradually fades away. This arises from the chemical fact, that solar light and a minute portion of iodine, acting together (though neither of them separately), are able to decompose the oxide of silver, and to form a colourless iodide of the metal. But supposing this accident to have been guarded against, a very great number of copies can be obtained in succession, so long as great care is taken of the original picture. But being only on paper, it is exposed to various accidents; and should it be casually torn or defaced, of course no more copies can be made. A mischance of this kind having occurred to two plates in our earliest number after many copies had been taken from them, it became necessary to replace them by others; and accordingly the Camera was once more directed to the original objects themselves, and new photographic pictures obtained from them, as a source of supply for future copies. But the circumstances of light and shade and time of day, &c. not altogether corresponding to what they were on a former occasion, a slightly different but not a worse result attended the experiment. From these remarks, however, the difference which exists will be easily accounted for.
H. Fox Talbot, The Pencil of Nature, (London: Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans, 1844)
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The Pencil of Nature. By Henry Fox Talbot, F.R.S. Parts I. and II. Longman & Co,
The ' Pencil of Nature' is the first attempt at photographic publication. Daguerreotype plates have been etched, but as yet no etching process has been entirely successful with them. Skilful artists, indeed, have engraved them, and from these engraved plates prints have been taken and sold as Daguerreotypes; but until Mr. Fox Talbot made this experiment, no productions, which have been entirely the result of solar influence, have passed through the publishers to the public. The experiment of photographically illustrated books is now before the world; and all who see Mr. Talbot's publication will be convinced that the promise of the art is great, and its utility and excellence, in many respects, of a high order. Whilst the French have attended only to the Daguerreotype process, and stuck to the silver plates, the English, following in the footsteps of Mr. Talbot, have diligently sought after processes of equal sensibility on paper; and their zeal in the inquiry has been well rewarded : we now possess several preparations capable of receiving images with equal rapidity with the Daguerreotype; and for the cumbrous metal, we substitute the more convenient material, paper.
This process possesses the great advantages of giving us after we have procured and well fixed a good original any number of pictures of equal excellence and of unvarying fidelity, which is impossible with the Daguerreotype.
The Eclectic Magazine of Foreign Literature, Science, and Art, Volume 4, April, 1845, p.572
Larry J. Schaaf, H. Fox Talbot's The Pencil of Nature; Anniversary Facsimile (New York: Hans P. Kraus, Jr. Inc., 1989).