Letter from David Brewster to Mr or Mrs Monteith, 1849

Scope and Content

Autograph letter signed by David Brewster, St Leonards College, St Andrews, to Mr or Mrs Monteith, no address given.

“I return you many thanks for the use of your negatives which I will take great care of.” The letter continues with a technical discussion of the albumen process of photographic reproduction. "I have not got any pictures executed by the new process; but I think it likely that Mr Malone will send me specimens in which case I will send them to you. M Evrard…speaks of the singular sharpness and beauty of the pictures which he sent to the Institute…”

“I enclose a Mss by a Mr Craddock of Wisbeach who has sent me some of the finest and sharpest Talbotypes I have ever seen. It contains some important hints. A Mr Buckle of Peterborough has also sent me very fine ones of Peterborough Cathedral, and one of a fine line Engraving of De Jardin the Painter…” The letter ends with advice on how to “varnish” the finished print by rubbing the surface with a polished pebble.

Administrative / Biographical History

David Brewster (1781-1868)was born in Jedburgh on 11 December 1781, son of the rector of Jedburgh Grammar School. He gave up a church career to pursue his interest in science, becoming known as a natural philosopher even though he failed to obtain a teaching post in a university. He wrote prolifically on many subjects, editing the Edinburgh Magazine and then the Edinburgh Encyclopaedia, also contributing articles on many subjects to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and publishing papers on optics, photography, scientific instruments and the history of science. He invented the kaleidoscope and stereoscope, refined other instruments, and became both a fellow and founder of scientific societies including the British Association for the Advancement of Science. Brewster was knighted in 1831 and ended his career as a university administrator promoting the teaching of science; he was appointed Principal of the United College of St. Salvator and St. Leonard at St. Andrews University in 1838, a post he held until he became Principal of Edinburgh University in 1859.


Single item

Access Information

By appointment with the Keeper of Manscripts. Access to records containing confidential information may be restricted.

Acquisition Information

Purchased from a dealer in 1997, with assistance from the National Fund for Acquisitions and a private donation.

Other Finding Aids

Individual Manuscripts and Small Collections database available as part of Manuscripts Database.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Paper: 1 sheet, 22.5 x 18.1cm, folded

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Maia Sheridan, Archives Hub project archivist, based on material from the Manuscripts Database

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Keeper of Manuscripts. Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.



Related Material

Papers of Sir David Brewster (1781-1868) held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division:
GB 0237 Gen. 2169/25-26; Gen. 1999/1/48-51; Gen. 1730-1732 Brewster; Gen. 1733/1-2, 4, 18, 43, 55, 67, 74, 95-96, 111, 122, 131, 138; Dk.6.20/26; Dc.4.101-103 Brewster; Dc.2.59; E99.66; E99.12; E99.10; E98.66; E98.65; E95.73; E94.92; E94.27; E93.73; E91.3; E91.2; E90.101; E90.4; E88.116; E88.60; E88.59; E88.58; E88.3; E87.96

Papers of James David Forbes held at St Andrews University Special Collections:
GB 0227 msdep7