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Photograph (Experimental Photogenic Drawing) of Sir William Herschel's 40-Foot Telescope at Slough, by Sir John Herschel, Autumn 1839

Inventory Number: 11879
Object Type:
Persons: Sir John Frederick William Herschel (Photographer)
Sir William Herschel
Date Created: 1839
Accession Number: 1928-71
Brief Description: Experimental photogenic drawing of the mounting of Sir William Herschel's 40-foot telescope in the garden of Herschel's house at Slough, by Sir John Herschel, undated but autumn 1839, one of 4 specimens in this collection. The paper has been cut (before exposure) to a circle 96 mm (approximately 3¾ inches) diameter.

Subject: Sir William Herschel's 40-foot telescope
Technique: camera-type image, probably (in view of the circular format and the dimensions) made in a telescope tube used as a makeshift camera obscura.
Format: circular
Polarity: negative
Orientation: laterally reversed
Quality: poor
Colour: xxx
Chemistry: silver based, then further treated with potassium iodide, ???presumably hypo fixed {check inscr???
Coating: none
Inscription: number, chemical note
Paper: xxx
Condition: good
Purpose: an experiment that tests a particular sensitising chemistry (sensitising mixture 608, and potassium iodide) on a camera image; the other purpose of the series of photographs of the telescope taken in the autumn of 1839 was to record the structure prior to its demolition; they are the only camera images made by Herschel.

For fuller descriptive and historical commentary see narratives.
Primary Inscriptions: 'No 608 with Hydro[?te] Pot' [hydriodate of potash; in Herschel's hand].
Provenance: Presented by Miss Herschel and Lady Lubbock in 1928. They were the two surviving and youngest children of Sir John Herschel (Francisca and Constance).
Collection Group: Herschel's Photographic Experiments
Material(s): Paper
Height Width Depth Diameter Unit
96 mm


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