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Invisible Writing Experiment from the Photographic Experiments of Sir John Herschel, 1839

preview image for Invisible Writing Experiment from the Photographic Experiments of Sir John Herschel, 1839
Inventory Number: 53873
Object Type:
Persons: Sir John Frederick William Herschel
Date Created: 1839
Accession Number: 1928-71
Brief Description: Experiment in invisible writing by Sir John Herschel, undated but 1839, employing chemistry closely related to his photographic experiments. The writing is on a piece of Ingalton paper (with embossed crown); the back is plain and slightly stained. It consists of lines of verse in Latin, clearly written in some chemical (the lack of sharpness and chemical bleeding so great as to impair legibility), and then brought out by brushing over it a dark chemical. The letters appear light on a dark sepia ground. All three of Herschel's invisible writing experiments (see 23385 and 78062) are different in appearance, and thus presumably in chemistry and process. The exact chemical details are not known.

For fuller descriptive and historical commentary see narratives.
Primary Inscriptions: The invisible writing in Herschel's hand reads: 'Martiis coelebs quid agam | calendis | Quid velint flores et acerre[...?] the[...?] | [?]Olim miravis, p[...?] carbo in | Asp[...?] vivo' followed by calligraphic squiggles; the last two words are deliberately written larger.
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
94 104 mm


Image with multimedia irn 49589Image with multimedia irn 49590

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