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Walter B. Woodbury
Self portrait with camera
National Science and Media Museum
The Royal Photographic Society Collection, Inventory no: 2003-5001/2/20189
Woodbury is posed as if in the act of taking a photograph, standing beside a camera, holding the lens cap. In 1864 Woodbury patented the Woodburytype process, a form of photomechanical gelatin reproduction that went on to become popular in book illustration in the latter part of the 19th century.
Walter Bentley Woodbury (1834 - 1885) was born in Manchester, England. He received a scientific education and in 1849 was taken as a pupil by a civil engineer in a Manchester patent office; in addition he taught himself photography. In 1852 he sailed for Australia, working in a number of jobs; as a draughtsman and as a photographer in Melbourne between 1854 and 1857. In May 1857 he sailed from Australia to Java where he was to run a successful photography studio until 1863/4. In September, 1857, he wrote to his mother in Manchester: 'The portrait I send has the date marked on it and in the future I shall always date them so that you can see if I improve in appearance or otherwise'. He returned to England, taking out more than thirty patents between 1863 and 1885, mostly for photomechanical printing, but also for improvements in optical and photographical apparatus. In 1864 Woodbury patented the Woodburytype process, a form of photomechanical gelatin reproduction that went on to become popular in book illustration in the latter part of the 19th century; the first Woodbury types were produced in 1864. He had fallen on hard times by the 1880s, and his development of the stanhope process (a simplified Woodbury process) could not change his fortunes. He died in Margate in 1885.