British photographic history

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Auction: 1839 photogenic drawings by William Salvin at auction / 31 January 2019

Edinburgh auction house Lyon and Turnbull is offering a group of photogenic drawings dating from May 1839 in its forthcoming auction of books and photography. The group are believed to have been made by William Thomas Salvin of Croxdale Hall, County Durham. They are estimated at £2000-3000. 

The catalogue description is below: 


3 of feathers, c. 108 X 174mm., annotated on verso, "Magpie feathers May 1839 W. Salvin" and "W. Salvin, May 15, 1839"; 4 of plants, from 75 x 105mm. to 175 x 105mm., annotated on versos in pencil "April 1839, W. Salvin", "May 1839. W. Salvin" (x 2) "[?] from High [-]oile, Salvin, 1829", one of the armorial bookplate of W.T Salvin Esq., annotated "May 16th 1839, W. Salvin", & 3 totally faded; all somewhat faded, one creased
Note: These must be amongst the earliest "photogenic drawings" produced in Co. Durham. First conceived in England by William Henry Fox Talbot in 1834, photogenic drawing is the first photographic process capable of producing negative images on paper. The inventor did not publicize his experiments until the Daguerreotype was introduced in January 1839. The first photogenic drawings were produced of flat objects (plants, fabrics, drawings or manuscripts, etc.), being placed directly on light sensitive paper, following the principle of a photogram. Talbot had presented his discoveries of photogenic drawing to the Royal Society in January and February 1839, and it is therefore likely that William Thomas Salvin (1767-1842) or his son, also William Thomas Salvin (b. 1808) was present at Talbot's Royal Society lecture and was inspired by it to make some of his own photogenic drawings in May 1839.

See more here.

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