transverse section of a madrepore magnified twelve and a half times Ibbetson. L. L. Boscawen  (English, 1799-1869)

by limelight, a combustible compound of oxy-hydrogen and calcium

there is no calculating the importance of this invention for multiplying figures in Natural History

In September 1840, the English journal Westminster Review published two lithographic copies of photographs originally ‘engraved on a daguerreotype plate’ by L. L. Boscawen Ibbetson at the Polytechnic Institution in London. One depicted a group of fossils and the other a close up of coral (by limelight, a combustible compound of oxy-hydrogen and calcium). The fossils were photographed in profile, having been formally arranged for the camera as a still life, with the draped shelf on which they sit still visible. The sample of coral had been photographed in close-up and from above, providing a detailed but slightly cropped view of the specimen as seen from an unexpected angle. According to the journal article accompanying the prints: when the impression was fixed upon the plate an outline of the image was traced upon it by an engraver in the dotting style; a print was then taken from the plate and transferred to stone, when the shading required was filled in by a lithographic artist.[1] These images were quickly circulated among interested persons. As the Athenaeum commented in August 1840: Photography and the Photographic Image 21 […] thus works which, however desirable, no publisher could undertake with any chance of remuneration, from the elaborate detail of the drawings, and the consequent expense of the engravings, may be brought within the means of persons of very limited income.31 This, then, is how many people first encountered photographic images: as newspaper reports, technical descriptions, or projected fantasies, or in the form of engravings or lithographs based on photographs that were published in popular or specialist magazines. For these people, their first photograph was an imaginary image or a second-order reproduction, with the copy coming before any original had been seen. As far as this public was concerned, the copy was the original, with photography presented as a process about the generation of such reproductions, before it was anything else.

March of 1840 Australian newspapers provide evidence that the language of photography had become part of the vernacular, with the Hobart Town Courier using the word ‘daguerreotype’ to indicate the 22 ‘extraordinary resemblance’ between Hobart and Cape Town.36 All this, once again, before any photograph had been made on Australian soil! This, then, is how many people first encountered photographic images: as newspaper reports, technical descriptions, or projected fantasies, or in the form of engravings or lithographs based on photographs that were published in popular or specialist magazines. For these people, their first photograph was an imaginary image or a second-order reproduction, with the copy coming before any original had been seen. As far as this public was concerned, the copy was the original, with photography presented as a process about the generation of such reproductions, before it was anything else. [1]

Reproduced / Exhibited

Yale Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library 1979 S24
National Museum of American History. GA.18907.02

References

[1] L.L. Boscawen Ibbetson (English, 1799-1869) ‘Fossils, engraved on a daguerreotype plate 1840 From The Westminster Review September 1840’, p. 460 Ink-on-paper lithograph by A. Friedel Illustrations associated with review of: History and practice of photogenic drawing on the true principles of the daguerreotype, with the new method of dioramic painting. by L. T. M. Daguerre.

Much of the information contained in this record was from an essay entitled Photography and the Photographic Image. Unfortunately I am having a difficult time identifying the author.