How George Baxter made his Glaze
An Interesting item acquired many years ago in an archive of information relating to the 1920’s Baxter collector A E Owens. It describes how Baxter made his glaze something which Baxter would have thought of as a ‘top secret’ formulae.
It appears to be written in the hand of P F Bullievent, a Baxter dealer who Owens purchased many items from over the years. It describes the words of Sidney H Wright who was at one time Baxter’s Manager, definitely working with Baxter in 1848 and later moved to Le Blond, possibly as part of the deal when Le Blond took a licence from Baxter in 1849. Wright can be found writing in the Bazaar in 1897 but assuming he must have been about 20 years old in 1849 it would make him around 97 when this letter was written.
I transcribe this below as best as I can:
Formula of George Baxter’s Glaze by Sidney Wright (Baxter’s Manager) gratuitous to A E Owens Esq. & not negotiable from P F Bullievent July 17th (19)26
Take 2 ozs clean parchment cuttings & 2 ozs fine ivory dust put in clean enamel saucepan with 8ozs of water and boil. Then stand it on the hob & let it simmer for about 4 hours adding warm water to make up for the evaporation.
Be careful no soot +c (? an abbreviation for etc.) gels in also that it does not burn which will happen if not well watched and stirred.
Assuming all the Gluten being boiled out of the parchment & ivory and you have XXX 8 ozs of size strain through a piece of linen into a basin & stand on one side until wanted.
When required for use take 2 ozs of the size and dissolve in an earthenware vessel over a gas stove. Then add a small quantity of Ox Gall (clarified) & Mucilage Gum Arabic using it warm with a flat camel hair brush striking pictures thus (a picture is drawn showing the brush is taken across the print left to right) & instantly after thus (another picture showing brush now taken from top to bottom) the two forming a film thus (further picture showing the brush has gone from left to right then from top to bottom to cover the picture) this method causing the strokes to run into each other & dries in one even film of tough ivory size making the colours more permanent.
If exposed to a very high pressure on a highly planished steel plate which has been slightly warmed the picture facing it & run through on a copper plate press(?) it takes a high polish & looks exceedingly beautiful.
Although Mr Owens purchased many items from Mr Bullievent, I can’t understand why this was “gratuitous to A E Owens Esq. & not negotiable”.
Like all of Baxter’s work methods this seems a long and laborious process to achieve the perfection that he desired, as against Le Blond where I have seen a number of prints that have been part or completely glazed and it has been obvious that the glaze had been applied by hand and in some cases quite poorly. Le Blond possibly used a ‘varnish’ which has quite often gone yellow with age, rather than Baxter’s glaze which appears to have stood the test of time. Also interesting to note that perhaps Baxter used the glaze not necessarily to always enhance the image but to retain the colours.