Articles of Glass

When William Henry Fox Talbot conducted his photographic experiments in the 1830s and 1840s, books were still produced using the centuries-old methods of movable type and relief and intaglio engraving on woodblocks or metal plates. In The Pencil of Nature, which appeared in instalments between 1844 and 1847, and ‘Imitation of Printing’, Talbot was experimenting with photography’s ability to reproduce different kinds of object. He was also anticipating the scaleable photographic techniques that would eventually replace traditional printing. ‘All kinds of engravings may be copied by photographic means’, he wrote, ‘and this application of the art is a very important one, not only as producing in general nearly fac-simile copies, but because it enables us at pleasure to alter the scale, and to make the copies as much larger or smaller than the originals as we may desire.’ Shown here is the plate from The Pencil of Nature showing articles of glass, together with some of the original glassware that has been preserved in the Talbot family archive.