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Camera used by William Henry Fox Talbot

  • Object:

    camera

  • Date:

    ca. 1840-1844 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Achromatic lens consist of 2 glass elements, concave and convex, designed to limit the effects of chromatic and spherical aberration.

  • 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.3039:1-2017

  • 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

Camera, wooden construction with a metal front panel and lens housing. Featuring an archromatic lens with a curved focal plane, an internal rack and pinion focusing system with an external brass wheel on top of the camera to operate. Brass hook on top panel at the front of the camera. Two metal guides fixed to the bottom of the camera at the rear allow for the film holder or focusing screen to be held in place. The focusing screen consists of a wooden frame holding a curved optical glass element to be used while focusing the camera. The paper negative holder is a wooden construction with two curved glass surfaces to hold a paper negative in a curved focal plane, with metal hinges on one side and a broken catch. Seperable darkslide made of wood with a brass handle to aid in removal.

Date

ca. 1840-1844 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Achromatic lens consist of 2 glass elements, concave and convex, designed to limit the effects of chromatic and spherical aberration.

Marks and inscriptions

No.8
Inscribed in pencil

Dimensions

Height: 140 mm, Width: 120 mm, Depth: 348 mm

Descriptive line

Camera used by William Henry Fox Talbot. Wooden construction with a metal front panel and lens housing. Has an achromatic lens and an internal rack and pinion focusing mechanism, operated by an external brass wheel fixed to the top of the camera. Two metal guides fixed to the bottom of the camera allow for the film holder or focusing screen to be held in place, ca. 1840-1844

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; Brass; Metal; Material; Optical glass

Categories

Cameras; Photographs; The Royal Photographic Society

Collection

Royal Photographic Society Collection

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