Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Calotype camera, owned by William Henry Fox Talbot

  • Object:

    camera

  • Place of origin:

    Lacock Abbey (made)

  • Date:

    1839-1848 (made)

  • 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.3047-2017

  • 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, wooden construction with a metal lens housing on the front panel with a hole above and to the side of the lens for viewing the negative during focusing. The single uncorrected lens slides in a sleeve for focusing, and has a fixed aperture of about f/3. With a removable wooden back, with adjustable tabs to allow it to be attached to the camera body.

Place of Origin

Lacock Abbey (made)

Date

1839-1848 (made)

Marks and inscriptions

'2970'
On a white sticker in black ink on the side panel at the rear of the object.

'1928-679'
Painted in white on the top panel at the rear of the object.

'B'
In pencil on camera back

'2970'
On a white sticker in black ink on the camera back.

Dimensions

Height: 120 mm whole camera, Width: 120 mm whole camera, Depth: 222 mm whole camera, Depth: 157 mm camera body, Diameter: 64 mm lens housing, Height: 110 mm inner body, Width: 110 mm inner body, Height: 110 mm camera back, Width: 110 mm camera back, Depth: 13 mm camera back with adjustable tabs, Depth: 9 mm camera back without adjustable tabs

Descriptive line

Calotype camera belonging to William Henry Fox Talbot, made between 1839 and 1848. Wooden construction with a metal plate and lens housing on the front panel with a hole above and to the side of the lens for viewing the negative during focusing. The single uncorrected lens slides in a sleeve for focusing, and has a fixed aperture of about f/3. The camera has a removable wooden back, with adjustable tabs to allow it to be attached to the camera body. The camera would take paper negatives of approximately 4 3/8 inch square.

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
[]

Materials

Wood; Metal; Optical glass

Categories

Cameras; Photographs; The Royal Photographic Society

Collection

Royal Photographic Society Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.