JF Ptak Science Books
The first published photographic image, or "sunpicture", illustrating an excellent collection of extremely early papers on photography, 1839.
Bird, Golding. "A Treatise on Photogenic Drawing." Five papers in a series found and bound in the London-published journal, The Mirror. These five issues comprise a very early work on the new science of photography by Dr. Golding Bird, appearing in issues from April 20-May 25, 1839: this includes "A treatise on photogenic drawing", (pp. 241-44); and also "The new art - photography", (pp. 261-2, 281-3, 317-18, 333-335.)
It is page 241 (issue no. 945, Saturday April 20) that particularly peaked my interest--it contains the First Image of a Photogenic Drawing. This is essentially the first publication of an image produced by any sort of photographic process. The process here is the 'sun picture", a photographic process, making this the first published "photographic" image, but really it is more like the first publication of a photographic image that was produced via woodcut. It predates the first mass-published photograph by four years and the first (entirely) photographically illustrated book (The Pencil of Nature) by six years. The sun picture, or heliotype, was first described in print in 1801 by both Thomas Wedgewood and Humphrey Davy, and although the process was at least 39 years old at this time there are no recorded *published* images produced by that process. (The woodcut is much larger than usual for The Mirror, and is also of a unique brown/red color, and of a different hue than any other woodcut that we have seen in any of the issues of the first 45 years of this publication.)
"...facsimile of a photogenic drawing of ferns (done on the block) as a plate [to illustrate an article serialized by Dr. Golding Bird "A Treatise on Photogenic Drawing" and reprinted in the Magazine of Natural History, p. 234-44]...printed in rust to imitate the photogenic drawing... The facsimile of the photogenic drawing done directly from an exposure on the block is the first photographic image published. The finished example is printed directly from the block in a reddish brown to match the color of Talbot's first salt print photograms."--Hanson Collection catalog, p. 6 [Source, here.]
Under the title, "the First Reproduction of a Photograph",the George Eastman House of Photography's journal, the Image (volume 11/2, 1962) notes:
"On April 20, 1839, the London magazine The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, featured as its cover a "Facsimile of a Photogenic Drawing." There is a copy in the George Eastman House collection. It is a picture —in negative—of three stalks of leaves. The original was made by Golding Bird, "a distinguished botanist" by following William Henry Fox Talbot's newly invented process, the details of which were made public at the Royal Society on February 21. Paper was made light sensitive by bathing it first in sodium chloride solution, then, after sponging the surface, in a solution of silver nitrate. The material could be used in two ways: to make, as Golding Bird did, a contact print, pressing flat objects to the surface during exposure to light, or in a camera. Both techniques produced negative images, which were fixed in a strong solution of sodium chloride. Talbot named his invention "photogenic drawing." His friend, Sir John Herschel, proposed for it the word "photography."
"Thus to The Mirror falls the honor of having first published a reproduction of a photograph. The facsimile which was presented to its readers was the work of a draftsman, who made a drawing of the photograph, and a wood engraver, who cut the block..”
The Image continues:
"Only a week later, on April 27, The Magazine of Science and School of Arts, another London magazine, featured three "Fac-similes of Photogenic Drawings" on its cover: two botanical specimens; (Fool's Parsley and Grass of Parnassus), and a piece of lace. Although wood engravings created by skill of hand, they approach photography more closely. For the very wooden block used for the printing plate was itself sensitized, just as Bird's paper had been sensitized, and the engraver followed with his burin the photographic image itself, rather than the artist's drawing."
"The photogenic drawings were contributed to the magazine by a reader who signed himself "G.F." He commented, in his covering letter published in the same issue: "I send you three drawings of this new art, which were impressed at once on box-wood, and therefore are fit for the graver, without any other preparation. I flatter myself that this process may be useful to carvers and wood engravers, not only to those who cut the fine objects of artistical design, but still more to those who cut patterns and blocks for lace, muslin, calico-printing, paper-hanging, &c., as by this simple means the errors, expense, and time of the draughtsman may be wholly saved, and in a minute or two the most elaborate picture or design, or the most complicated machinery, be delineated with the utmost truth and clearness."
Gernsheim states in his History of Photography that the first photographic camera ever made for sale to the public was advertised by Francis West, an optician of 83 Fleet Street, London, and published in this issue.
Bird later reworked these sections of the Mirror into elements of and a chapter in his Elements of Natural Philosophy; (being an experimental introduction to the study of the physical sciences; revised and enlarged third London edition, Philadelphia: Lea & Blanchard, 1848). 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: "in a Letter to the Editor of the magazine of Natural History"
Published in the volume containing a half-year of The Mirror, in original leather and boards. Ex-library, with scant markings. Good condition. SOLD