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Calotype camera No. 7

  • Object:

    camera

  • Date:

    c. 1840 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Talbot, William Henry Fox, born 1800 - died 1877

  • Credit Line:

    The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A, acquired with the generous assistance of the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Art Fund

  • Museum number:

    RPS.341-2017

  • Gallery location:

    Photography Centre, Room 100, The Bern and Ronny Schwartz Gallery, case ARCH1 []

Talbot was the British inventor of photography. In 1834 he discovered how to make and fix images through the action of light and chemistry on paper. These ‘negatives’ could be used to make multiple prints. This revolutionised image making.

Talbot excelled in many fields, including mathematics, optics, botany and chemistry. However, it was his inability to master drawing outdoors that prompted him to experiment with capturing images inside a camera. He published his photographic discoveries and ideas, illustrated with original photographs, in his book The Pencil of Nature. Talbot patented his negative photographic process, which he called the ‘calotype’, in 1841. Later, he pioneered photographic engraving – printing photographs in ink. His processes became the basis of virtually all subsequent photography.

Physical description

Calotype camera owned and used by W H Fox Talbot, and a paper negative holder (RPS.341:2-2017).
Wooden box with a lens, possibly taken from a telescope. A small metal disc has been attached to the front of the lens with one nail, so that it can rotate and cover the lens. There are two metal brackets that have been attached to the bottom of the box and extend out the back of the box to hold the paper negative holder (RPS.341:2-2017), which forms the back of the box.
The wood is varnished and the metal is brass-coloured.

Date

c. 1840 (made)

Artist/maker

Talbot, William Henry Fox, born 1800 - died 1877

Marks and inscriptions

1928-680
Left side of box, painted in white

4160
Bottom of the box, printed in black onto a white sticker

Dimensions

Height: 128 mm Whole camera, Width: 143 mm Whole camera, Depth: 252 mm Whole camera

Object history note

This was made and used by William Henry Fox Talbot.

Descriptive line

Calotype camera owned by William Henry Fox Talbot, c. 1840

Labels and date

Photography Centre 2018-20:

William Henry Fox Talbot (1800–77)

Talbot was the British inventor of photography. In 1834 he discovered how to make and fix images through the action of light and chemistry on paper. These ‘negatives’ could be used to make multiple prints. This revolutionised image making.

Talbot excelled in many fields, including mathematics, optics, botany and chemistry. However, it was his inability to master drawing outdoors that prompted him to experiment with capturing images inside a camera. He published his photographic discoveries and ideas, illustrated with original photographs, in his book The Pencil of Nature. Talbot patented his negative photographic process, which he called the ‘calotype’, in 1841. Later, he pioneered photographic engraving – printing photographs in ink. His processes became the basis of virtually all subsequent photography.

You can see how calotypes are made in the ‘Dark Tent’ film room in Room 99.

The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A, acquired with the generous assistance of the Heritage Lottery Fund and Art Fund
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Materials

Wood; Optical glass; Metal

Categories

Photographs; Portraits; The Royal Photographic Society; Cameras

Collection

Royal Photographic Society Collection

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