May 1839 photographic (?) image question

From: John Ptak ^lt;[email protected]>
Date: 03/12/05-02:30:50 PM Z
Message-id: <017301c52742$61909fc0$6101a8c0@johnwe1gpx6f3s>

Hello all.

I've got a question on very early photographic practices for May 1839--I
believe that I've never posted this question to this group before. Perhaps
someone with the knowledge for the earliest photographic processes might
have an insight?

The image appears in the May 15, 1839 issue of the English "The Mirrour",
the cover illustration of the sixth of six articles by Golding Bird entitled
A Treatise on Photogenic Drawing. The image is labeled "A fac-simile of a
photogenic drawing" and is the image of a fern.

Now I've had a number of very early photographic items but this one is
particularly knotty. At first glance it seems a simple woodcut-it is to my
eye not quite correct for a woodcut, with too much bleed-through to the back
of the page, too heavy, too rich a color. This does not eliminate it as a
woodcut, but does make it more problematic to me.

The problem to me is that I can't identify it as a Talbot process or
shadowgraph. This is only a few months into Daguerre and things got busy
quite quickly, so I hesitate to dismiss this as "just" a woodcut.

If it is just a woodcut, then why even bother with the illustration? A
woodcut of a photograph depicting a photogenic drawing? It is a surreal
photography first, then, if it is a woodcut-the first non-photographic
illustration of a photograph.

Incidentally, this article was reproduced in the Journal of the Franklin
Institute in September 1839 as "Observations on the application of
Heliographic or Photogenic Drawing to Botanical Purposes; with an account of
an economic mode of preparing the Paper..."

Perhaps it is just a woodcut, but I'd really like to make positively sure
that it is not a photographic process.

Many thanks for your thoughts,

John Ptak
Received on Sat Mar 12 14:31:04 2005

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : 04/08/05-09:31:00 AM Z CST