We have just completed digitisation of the glass plate negatives from Batch Six, after preparation by the John Rylands Collection Care team. The plates were a mix of size and subject matter, ranging from 6x9cm to 10x12in, while the contents ranged from the formal to the informal; from snapshots to precisely posed.
A small selection is included below. The digitised negatives are inverted using our digital capture software in order to create the positive image. The negative image appears as below:
Many of the plates were an early endeavor to photographically record the Newman Archive, meaning that we found ourselves digitising glass plates of letters we most probably photographed in their original format earlier in the project! It is safe to say the digitisation process has improved over the years; as you can see below, drawing pins were used.
Not all attempts were successful, as seen below, flare on paintings can always be an issue:
And we wouldn’t dream of mounting tapestries to a fence or shed wall!
Also included were some exterior shots of the Oratory, and documentation of special events;
Below is a Magic Lantern Slide, a transparent positive image which would be used in a projector.
A 10×12 glass plate documenting Cardinal Newman’s room. This could be of interest to conservation staff who are currently developing a long term preservation strategy for the room, as certain elements have suffered damage over the years.
Working with these plates has certainly been a welcome break from two years of document digitisation, however now the work is complete we are back to the usual content.
Batch 6 was meant to be a smaller batch of twenty boxes, for completion before Christmas. It turned out the contents were greater than expected, just eleven boxes of this batch produced over 19000 images, so the full batch would have been nearer 40000 images! We will carry over nine boxes and add it to Batch 7.
To date we have digitised a total of 119000 images for the archive.
Image from The Press on Cardinal Newman, With A Short Sketch of His Life.
Today we came across a more unusual and unexpected item in the Newman Archive – in amongst the thousands of letters, an envelope simply labelled “Ealing School Playground, August 11 1853″. Inside, a collection of dry leaves with no further explanation.
It seems Newman must have paid a visit to Ealing School, where he had studied between the ages of seven and fifteen. At the end of his time at Ealing School, Newman underwent his conversion, influenced by Thomas Scott. ‘. . . to whom (humanly speaking) I almost owe my soul.’ Newman would have been 52 years old when he collected these leaves. This would make these preserved leaves over 161 years old!
It’s all a bit of a mystery – can anyone help us get to the root of it?
Presently sitting in the CHICC store are three unassuming boxes and one crate. The contents are a little different to previous digitised material: a collection of glass plate negatives.
They vary in size from small 6×9 cm to larger 10×12 inch plates. Some are copies of letters and correspondence, some are personal candids and the larger 10×12 inch plates show the interior of Cardinal Newman’s room at Birmingham Oratory, potentially an exciting and important visual record.
The plates will have to be carefully cleaned and rehoused by our conservation team prior to digitisation.
For the time being, here is a plate of Cardinal Newman sitting patiently for the camera. We really look forward to getting started on this part of the collection.
He sometimes penned his Latin name, Giovanni Enrico Neandrini Here are some photos of his early compositions dating back to 1821 (Oxford) and 1832 (a composition to his sister) Photos taken during the digitization project preparation at Birmingham Oratory, October … Continue reading →