George IV Bridge – celebrating 50 years

Edinburgh Calotype Club album: acquired in 2002

The Edinburgh Calotype Club was the the first photographic club in the world. Volume 1 of the Edinburgh Calotype Club album, at the National Library of Scotland, holds 206 images. As well as portraits, the album contains photographs of landscapes and historic buildings, depicting scenes in Edinburgh, St Andrews, Fairlie and Inverness.

Photography was in its infancy in the early 1840s when a group of Edinburgh gentlemen began to meet and compare notes on their photographic experiments. They were inspired to establish the club after visiting Sir David Brewster (1781-1868) in St Andrews. Brewster was a close friend and associate of William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) who had discovered the calotype process in 1839.

The album was acquired with financial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Art Collections Fund, the Gordon Fraser Charitable Trust, and Edinburgh City Council. The council owns the only other known album of the club, at Edinburgh Central Library.

You can see both calotype albums online in our feature Pencils of Light.

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