Talbot, William Henry Fox, 1800-1877, The pencil of nature , 1844 [i.e. 1844-1846]
The pencil of nature / by H. Fox Talbot.
- London : Longman, Brown, Green, & Longmans, 1844 [i.e. 1844-1846]
([London] : J.& H. Cox, Brothers, (late Cox & Sons,) printers to the honourable East-India Company, 74 & 75, Great Queen-street
- Physical Description:
-  p.,  leaves of plates : 24 photographs ; 30.5 x 24.3 cm
- Rare Books and ManuscriptsTR144 .T35 1844+ OversizeYale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon FundView by request in the Study Room [Request]
Note: The Study Room is open by appointment. Please visit the Study Room page on our website for more details.
- Copyright Status:
- Public Domain
- The first commercially published book to be illustrated with photographs. Conceived by Talbot as a synopsis of the potential of photography.
Issued in 6 parts, 29 June 1844-23 April 1846. "Although nearly three hundred copies were produced of the first installment [i.e. part 1], interest later dropped and fewer than one hundred were made of the last one."--Encyclopedia of nineteenth-century photography.
The plates are mounted salt prints (made with the calotype process) by Talbot, printed at the Reading Establishment under the supervision of Nicolaas Henneman and, later, Benjamin Cowderoy. The prints are mounted on stiff card, within a single rule inked border, and numbered in the lower right in ink or pencil.
Plates 1 and 5 exist in 2 different images. Plate 1: in earlier copies, the building is cropped; in later copies, the building is fully visible. Plate 5: in earlier copies, the bust faces straight ahead and the print measures 12.5 x 13.5 cm.; in later copies, the bust faces to the left and the print measures 17.5 x 17 cm.
Title page printed in red and black within border of type ornaments.
A 3-line slip, "Notice to the Reader", was inserted in most or all copies of part 2; a 5-line slip was inserted in parts 3-6 and later issues of part 1.
Each part was issued in cream paper covers, with decorated front cover chromolithographed in black and red. The parts were numbered in ms. The front cover was retouched while part 5 was being issued: some copies of parts 5 and 6, and later copies of part 1, have the cover in second state.
The 1989 facsimile edition (New York : Hans P. Kraus, Jr.) includes a commentary volume (92 p.) by Larry J. Schaaf, with a historical sketch, notes on the plates, and census.
Encyclopedia of nineteenth-century photography, v. 2, p. 1057
Gernsheim, H. Incunabula of British photographic literature, 6
Goldschmidt, L. Truthful lens, 160
Pencil of nature (facsimile edition, 1989)
Yanul, R. Photographically illustrated books before 1860, p. 16.
Of green leaf, bird, and flower: artists' books and the natural world, p. 42
"Brief historical sketch of the invention of the art": part. 1, p. -.
Restricted fragile material. Use requires permission of the Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts.
BAC: British Art Center copy imperfect: lacks parts 5 and 6. In original wrappers. Includes the 3-line notice in part 2 and the 5-line notice in part 3. Each part has the bookplate of Lord Vernon (George John Warren, 1803-1866). This copy is listed as the Elizabeth Foulkes copy included in the Schaaf census of 1989.
- Subject Terms:
- Foulkes, Elizabeth -- Provenance.Photography -- Early works to 1850.Photography -- History -- 19th century.Talbot, William Henry Fox, 1800-1877.Vernon, G. J. Warren (George John Warren), Baron, 1803-1866 -- Bookplate.
Calotype (paper process)
Salted paper prints.
- IIIF Manifest: