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Photographs and Other Images  -  These include portraits of photographers  -  photographic outings -  Princes Street views  -  Newhaven Fishwives  -  etc.  Early Photography in Edinburgh  -  Talbot, Brewster, Hill & Adamson, Early Professional Photographers in Princes Street, etc.  Professional Photographers in Edinburgh  -  1840 to 1940  -  Their names, dates of business and studio addresses.  The Photographic Society of Scotland  -  1856 to 1873  -  Lectures, Exhibitions, Outings, etc.  The History of Edinburgh Photographic Society  -  1861 to date  -  Lectures, Exhibitions, Outings, Poems, etc.  EPS Publications - EPS Handwritten Records  -  Photographic Journals  -  Trade Directories  -  Books  -  etc.  Thanks to all who have encouraged and supported me in creating the EdinPhoto web site  -  including descendants of photogrpahers  -  researchers  -  providers of photographs and other material  Background notes on the research thal led up to the creation of this site  -   together with lists of new material added to the site since its launch.  Brief comments on how this site might be used  -  Just browsing?  -  Seeking specific information?  Please add your questions, suggestions or other comments to the Guest Book.  Links to other web sites  -  Photographic Societies  -  Photographic History  -  Family History  -  etc.  Click here to find the link to the Edinburgh Photogrpahic Society web site.  Details of who owns the copyright of photographs and other mateiral on this web site.

A selection of my photographs, many from Edinburgh throughout the year.   Also photos from Scotland, London, Iceland, Italy, Hong Kong and elsewhere    Many old maps of Edinburgh (Old Town, New Town, while City), Leith and Newhaven.  Includes several old transport maps and a comparison of old maps with recent aerial photos.   Old engravings, mailly of Edinburgh scenes.  Some from the 1820s, some from the 1890s,  some others - includes many hand-coloured examples from the 1820s.   News from Edinburgh today  -  Events, Collections, Buildings and Gardens, Transport   This site includes     1. Post card portraits taken in studios in Edinburgh:    2. Post card views either takeen/published by Ediburgh photographers or views of Edinburgh, or both.y Edinburgh    Views of Edinburgh, grouped into three sections:     1. Street views:    2. Buildings:    3. Around Edinburgh   Views of transport around Edinburgh  -  Horse drawn trams and buses, cable cars, electric trams, buses and a few railway photos.  Also several maps of Edinburgh's bus and tram routes.   Summary of the updates added to this site each month since the site was launched   Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

Early Photographic Processes

Carbon Print

from 1864

Discovery

The carbon printing process was a more permanent form of printing than the albumen prints which tended to become yellow and fade.

In 1839, Mungo Ponton discovered  that writing paper soaked in a solution of bichromate of potash was sensitive to light and turned brown in parts exposed to the sun. 

Hunt (in 1843) and Talbot (in 1853) also suggested processes using bichromate of potash.

In the late 1850s, experiments were carried out by several photographers including Pouncy, Sutton and ultimately Swan.  the following year.

But it was not until 1864 that the process became more widely used.

Sir Joseph Wilson Swan introduced improvements to the carbon printing process, and patented his method on 15 April 1864.  Details of the patent are given in the book Carbon Printing by  EJ Wall.

Joseph Wilson Swan is also credited with having invented the dry plate (1871) and bromide paper (1879) - and an electric lamp (1860)!  [The Cambridge Biographical Encyclopaedia]

The carbon process was used by the Autotype Company from 1866 until the end of the century.

Recent Work

I hear from Kevin Sullivan of Bostick & Sullivan, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, that there are still a handful of skilled workers in the carbon process.

The Bostick & Sullivan web site includes some details of carbon coating techniques. 

Kevin recommends the following two books, the second of which he describes as a good practical manual that describes a good method of  making the tissue.

-  History of Carbon and Carbo  [Luis Nadeau]

-  Carbon and Carbo [Sandy King]

Process

Overview

The carbon process consists of:

a) printing a negative onto a tissue containing carbon and other pigments in a gelatin base, previously made light sensitive in a bath of potassium bichromate..

b) transferring the image to a paper base and stripping off the backing of the tissue.

[The American Museum of Photography]

Detail  -  step 1

A sheet of carbon-impregnated gelatine is obtained.

It was recommended that photographers should purchase commercially prepared paper, rather than try to prepare their own paper.  However instructions for photographers who wished to create their own tissue were given.  The following was said to be sufficient to coat a sheet of tissue measuring 3.6m x 0.76m (132 x30 ins)

a)  Soak 25 gm Nelson's gelatine in 675cc water by the aid of a gentle heat.

b)  Add 30-60 gm sugar and 25gm dry soap

c)  Filter

d)  Mix with colouring matter

The ingredients required to make a variety of colours were given.

Reddish brown required:

-  Indian Red 10 gm
-  Carmine lake 6 gm
-  Chinese ink 8 gm

Reddish brown required:

-  Lampblack 3.8 gm
-  Carmine lake 4    gm
-  Indigo

2    gm

Detail  -  step 2

This sheet is treated with a sensitising solution to make the paper light sensitive.

The sensitising solution is made by dissolving 1oz potassium bichromate and 5 drops liquid ammonia (.880) in 20 oz distilled water.

Dry the sensitised tissue, preferably in a drying box - alternatively in a room protected from light by blinds.

Detail  -  step 3

This sheet is exposed to light under a negative, with actinometer paper beside the printing frame.

When the actinometer paper has darkened sufficiently, remove the carbon paper from the printing frame.

The coating on the carbon paper will have hardened in proportion to the intensity of the light that it has received, and an image may be just visible.

Detail  -  step 4

The sheet is transferred onto a temporary support and the image is developed, using hot water.

The unhardened gelatine is washed away, leaving what appears to be a conventional print, the darkness of the image depending on the thickness of the carbon impregnated gelatine remaining. 

Detail  -  step 5

Place the print in a bath of cold water>

Fix the print in an alum bath, until free from any yellow tinge.  This removes the soluble bichromate.  The alum and the action of light also hardens the film.

Wash then dry.

Acknowledgement for the detail above:

[Carbon Printing:  EJ Wall:  Amateur Photographer's Library No 8: 1894]

Carbon Printing

TODAY

I have been told by  Kevin Sullivan tells me that:

a)  Carbon printing is not now very popular.  It is a fairly involved process, so a good book is recommended.  However, there are still a handful of skilled practitioners.

b)  His company Bostic Sullivan  sells two books:

-   History of Carbon and Carbo [Nadeau]

-   Carbon and Carbro [Sandy King] - a practical
manual that covers making the tissue and printing.

c)  His company has a page that describes a good method for making tissue but not the exact formulas.  There are hundreds of various mixes on his site
his site.

Result

Carbon prints can have a wide tonal range and retain their rich tones, offering a permanent image without grain. 

Musselburgh Fishwives

    Carbon Print of Musselburgh Fishwives

For these reasons, some photographers offered carbon prints, in preference to albumen.

Carbon printing was also used for printing onto surfaces other than paper.  Prints on opal glass could look particularly attractive.

One of the attractions of carbon prints was that they did not fade, but unfortunately, in some cases the image has cracked and come away from its surface.

In his book, Carbon Printing EJ Wall gave directions for producing prints in tones of:

-  Reddish brown (photographic tint)
-  Chocolate brown
-  Engraving black
-  Warm black
-  Dark brown
-  Red brown
-  Sepia
-  Red transparent.

Reddish brown required:

-  Indian Red 10 gm
-  Carmine lake 6 gm
-  Chinese ink 8 gm

 

Reddish brown required:

-  Lampblack 3.8 gm
-  Carmine lake 4    gm
-  Indigo 2    gm

 

In Edinburgh 

Photogrpahic Society of Scotland

Exhibition 1863

The 7th Photographic Society of Scotland Exhibition, in March 1863, included a new category of Award.  It was for: "The Best Print in Carbon or Printing Ink.

John Pouncey of Dorchester was awarded a Silver Medal for this category.

Here are some comments taken from letters written by John Pouncey to the Photographic Society of Scotland in early 1863, a few years before the carbon process became more widely used:

"in conclusion, I need scarcely remind you of the supremacy of this description of practice as being the only photographs that will resist the fading influence of time."

"I will be glad if your Society will not give any report of my prints publicly just now.  Perhaps a few weeks hence, I will write you , and forward you more specimens shortly."

"I will not allow any specimens in London.  Therefore, whatever is being said about my process is without any proof whatsoever.

Edinburgh Photographic Society

JG Tunny's demonstration- 1875

A demonstration of carbon printing, entitled Demonstration of Pigment Printing, was given by JG Tunny to Edinburgh Photographic Society on 3 May 1876   The British Journal of Photography gave a report of the Meeting:

"Mr JG Tunny, in introducing the subject, referred briefly to the fact that two grand discoveries in connection with carbon printing, as carried on at present, were made by Edinburgh men

-  the first, the action of light on alkaline bichromates, by Mr Mungo Ponton in 1838.

-  the other, the exposure and development on the opposite side of the tissue, by Mr CJ Burnett."

Edinburgh Photographic Society

JG Tunny's demonstration  -  Comments

Several of Edinburgh's professional photographers added their comments following Tunny's demonstration.

E W Dallas reported that he had, some time ago, made prints at the rate of three or four hundred a day, but failed most miserably.

Norman Macbeth had no doubts about the permanency of the carbon, but though that if colouring matter was added to produce a warm tone, this might fade.

James Ross was delighted with the demonstration and added that:

"Mr Tunny and he were sometimes twitted with being the old men of the profession, but it was quite evident that at least Mr Tunny had lost none of the vigour or dexterity that had been his characteristics."

Mr Turnbull believed that silver prints might, with proper care be made as permanent as carbon.  Messrs  Dickson, Bashford and Dallas also made suggestions.

[BJP: 12 May 1876; p.225]

J B Johnston  -  Lecture to EPS -  1897

The Carbon Process

Three Papers were read during the Edinburgh Photographic Society's Meeting on 3 February 1897.  The three speakers spoke in favour of:

platinum paper

the carbon process

gelatino-chloride matt paper [a printing-out paper]

J B Johnston said the answer given t o which paper to use was often:  platinotype for cold tones and silver-printing for warm tones, but he had some concern over the permanence of silver prints.  Speaking of silver prints, he said:

"  In some cases, they seem to be permanent, but we have only to look upon the great number of faded albumen and yellowing gelatino-chloride prints to see that we cannot depend upon them.  Then again, the number of tones to be obtained in these papers is limited."

He said that the carbon process was one of the earliest (dating from somewhere in the eighteen-fifties) but had been until recently comparatively neglected.  He spoke in favour of the carbon process:

"  ... why should we have a multiplicity of processes when we have one which can give us any result we wish and is permanent too?

We can have our picture printed in black like a platinotype, in red, sea-green, blue, purple and several shades of sepia and brown.

The remainder of J B Johnston's paper described the carbon processes and addressed some of the objections that had been made to it.  He accepted that the process was difficult, but said:

"  ... but what of that?  Are we going to let a process with all these advantages be unused because it is difficult to work?"

[Transactions of the Edinburgh Photographic Society,  March 1897,  pp.406-8.]

A H Baird's 'Photographic Chat'  -  1902

Increasing Popularity of Carbon Printing

A H Baird, in his journal 'Photographic Chat' in December 1902 commented on the steady increase in popularity of the carbon process, less due to its reputation for permanence than due to its ability to produce uniform coloured tones and a wide range of gradation.

[Photographic Chat:  December 1902, p.3-4]

 

A H Baird's 'Photographic Chat'  -  1903

Further advice on Carbon Printing

A H Baird said that many amateur photographers had been discouraged from making occasional carbon prints because of concern that the carbon tissue must be used within a week of receiving it.

He pointed out that calcium storage boxes, introduced by the Autotype Company a couple of years ago (but not so well known as they should be) overcome this problem.

Alternatively, suggested that it was a straightforward matter for photographers to sensitise their own carbon tissue using potassium dichromate and ammonia.

[Photographic Chat:  December 1902, p.3-4]

 

In USA

 

I have received several question in the GuestBook and by email from people who own carbon prints by A W Elson of Boston.  I am not yet able to answer the questions but hope that somebody will be able to help with the answers.

Please click on the A W Elson print below to read the questions.

 Carbon Print by A W Elson & Co, Boston  -  Cornwallis Surrender

 

 

Early Photography -  More pages

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Links to Other Pages

EdinPhoto - Home Page      Please send me an e-mail ...  with your questions, comments, suggestions or news.      At any time, you can search for a word  -  perhaps a photographer's name or a photographic topic.  The search will produce a list of pages on the EdinPhoto web site where this word appears.            At any time, you can search for a word  -  perhaps a photographer's name or a photographic topic.  The search will produce a list of pages on the EdinPhoto web site where this word appears.

Photographs and Other Images  -  These include portraits of photographers  -  photographic outings -  Princes Street views  -  Newhaven Fishwives  -  etc.  Early Photography in Edinburgh  -  Talbot, Brewster, Hill & Adamson, Early Professional Photographers in Princes Street, etc.  Professional Photographers in Edinburgh  -  1840 to 1940  -  Their names, dates of business and studio addresses.  The Photographic Society of Scotland  -  1856 to 1873  -  Lectures, Exhibitions, Outings, etc.  The History of Edinburgh Photographic Society  -  1861 to date  -  Lectures, Exhibitions, Outings, Poems, etc.  EPS Publications - EPS Handwritten Records  -  Photographic Journals  -  Trade Directories  -  Books  -  etc.  Thanks to all who have encouraged and supported me in creating the EdinPhoto web site  -  including descendants of photogrpahers  -  researchers  -  providers of photographs and other material  Background notes on the research thal led up to the creation of this site  -   together with lists of new material added to the site since its launch.  Brief comments on how this site might be used  -  Just browsing?  -  Seeking specific information?  Please add your questions, suggestions or other comments to the Guest Book.  Links to other web sites  -  Photographic Societies  -  Photographic History  -  Family History  -  etc.  Click here to find the link to the Edinburgh Photogrpahic Society web site.  Details of who owns the copyright of photographs and other mateiral on this web site.

A selection of my photographs, many from Edinburgh throughout the year.   Also photos from Scotland, London, Iceland, Italy, Hong Kong and elsewhere    Many old maps of Edinburgh (Old Town, New Town, while City), Leith and Newhaven.  Includes several old transport maps and a comparison of old maps with recent aerial photos.   Old engravings, mailly of Edinburgh scenes.  Some from the 1820s, some from the 1890s,  some others - includes many hand-coloured examples from the 1820s.   News from Edinburgh today  -  Events, Collections, Buildings and Gardens, Transport   This site includes     1. Post card portraits taken in studios in Edinburgh:    2. Post card views either takeen/published by Ediburgh photographers or views of Edinburgh, or both.y Edinburgh    Views of Edinburgh, grouped into three sections:     1. Street views:    2. Buildings:    3. Around Edinburgh   Views of transport around Edinburgh  -  Horse drawn trams and buses, cable cars, electric trams, buses and a few railway photos.  Also several maps of Edinburgh's bus and tram routes.   Summary of the updates added to this site each month since the site was launched   Frequently Asked Questions

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