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Sliding box camera belonging to William Henry Fox Talbot

  • Object:

    camera

  • Place of origin:

    Lacock Abbey

  • Date:

    1839-1845 (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.3041-2017

  • 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

Sliding box camera. Pine wood construction of two boxes within one another, the design allows for the extension of the focal length of the camera. There is no lens or back to the camera, there is a hole in the front panel for a lens and provision for a dark slide in the rear section of the camera. A screw of a more modern apperance than the rest of the object holds the two sections together and there is a brass clasp on the side panel of the rear box section.

Place of Origin

Lacock Abbey

Date

1839-1845 (made)

Marks and inscriptions

'4157'
White sticker with black ink on the bottom panel of the front box section.

Dimensions

Height: 152 mm whole object, Width: 152 mm whole object, Depth: 130 mm whole object unextended, Height: 133 mm outer of internal box section, Width: 133 mm outer of internal box section, Height: 120 mm inner of internal box section, Width: 102 mm inner of internal box section

Descriptive line

Sliding box camera belonging to William Henry Fox Talbot, made between 1839 and 1845. Pine wood construction with no lens or back to the camera. The paper size for this camera would be approximately 120mm x 102mm.

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

Pine

Categories

Cameras; Photographs; The Royal Photographic Society

Collection

Royal Photographic Society Collection

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