WILLIAM HENRY FOX TALBOT
Some Account of the Art of Photogenic Drawing, or the process by which natural objects may be made to delineate themselves without the aid of the artist's pencil... (Read before the Royal Society, January 31, 1839). London: R. and J. E. Taylor [for the author, February] 1839. Quarto (258 x 208 mm). 7 leaves. (Light spotting on first and last leaf). Disbound.
FIRST EDITION. 'THE FIRST SEPARATE PUBLICATION ON PHOTOGRAPHY IN THE WORLD' (Newhall). Talbot was the first of the early experimenters in photography to propose, in this paper, a fundamental principle of modern photography: the use of a fixed negative image as the master copy to be used to produce a theoretically unlimited number of positive copies: 'If the picture so obtained is first preserved so as to bear sunshine, it may be afterwards itself employed as an object to be copied; and by means of this second process the lights and shadows are brought back to their original disposition' (p.12).
Talbot had been inspired by unsuccessful attempts to sketch landscapes using the camera obscura to seek a method of imprinting natural images on chemically sensitized paper. Talbot finally succeeded, in 1835, in obtaining a few tiny negatives. One of these 1-inch square negatives, showing the window of the library of his home at Lacock Abbey, survives at the Science Museum in London. After further experiments using solar microscopes, Talbot set aside his photographic work for other pursuits, and did not return to it until Dominique Arago's announcement of Daguerre's experiments on January 7, 1839 prompted him to hurriedly claim priority of invention. He read the present hastily-written account of his own invention, outlining the process but withholding details of the chemicals used, to the Royal Society on January 31, and published it in February in this small edition, intended for private distribution. Along with his paper Talbot exhibited some of his specimens of 'photogenic drawings', including superimposed flowers, leaves and lace, enlarged images taken with the solar microscope, and photographic copies of an engraved view, the latter including some positive copies -- the first positive photographic images ever produced. VERY RARE. H. and A. Gernsheim, The History of Photography (New York: 1969), chapter 7; Beaumont Newhall, Latent Image. The Discovery of Photography (Albuquerque: 1967), p.17; Norman 2049.