Robert Hunt Letters, 1842-1879

Mss.B.H916

Date: 1842-1879 | Size: 0.25 Linear feet, 32 items

Abstract

These letters to Hunt concern geology, physics (photography and light), and scientific instruments.

Background note

Robert Hunt (1807-1887) was an English pharmacist, photographer, poet, and mineralogist. He is best known for authoring an early analysis of the photographic process (A Popular Treatise on the Art of Photography, 1840) and for his work compiling mineralogical surveys of Great Britain.

Hunt was born on September 6, 1807 in Devonport (formerly Plymouth Dock), England, to Robert Hunt (d. 1807) and Honour Thomas Hunt (1781-1842). He never knew his father. The elder Robert Hunt was a naval carpenter and was lost at sea in the eastern Mediterranean with his ship, the HMS Moucheron, earlier in 1807, prior to the younger Robert's birth.

After spending his early childhood in Devon and Cornwall, Hunt was sent by his mother to London to learn pharmacy. There, he worked for a surgeon and later managed a drug dispensary. In 1830-1831, he relocated to Penzance and went in to business with his uncle James Thomas as a chemist and druggist. Shortly thereafter in 1834, he met and married his wife, Harriet Swanson (1808-1896). The family partnership with Uncle James did not last; it dissolved after a few years, and Hunt relocated to London in an attempt to make it as a playwright. This latter venture did not pan out. In 1837, Hunt returned home to Devonport and set up his own pharmacy.

At this time, Hunt began branching out to other pursuits, particularly scientific writing. He published in the Philosophical Magazine, the Art Journal, The Athenaeum, British Association Reports, Chemist, Pharmaceutical Times, and the Photographic Journal. He became interested in photography, and wrote the first comprehensive work on the subject in Britain, penning A Popular Treatise on the Art of Photography in 1840. He was an original member of the Calotype Club (1847) and of the Photographic Society of Great Britain (1853). He also was involved with the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society at Falmouth and the British Association, where he interacted with leading scientific figures of the time. In 1848, Hunt wrote The Poetry of Science, an ambitious attempt to wax lyrical about science for a public audience. The work was well received.

Also at this time, Hunt began a 30-year association with the mining industry. In 1845, he was assigned keeper of the mining record office, working under the geological survey of Henry De la Beche. He compiled statistics on mineral production as part of his responsibilities. In 1851, Hunt was hired as professor of mechanical science in the newly created School of Mines. He advocated for mining education in southwestern England, and was involved in an abortive school of mines at Truro and a miners' association of Devon and Cornwall. Hunt retired in 1883 and published the monumental industry guide, British Mining, the following year.

Hunt was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society in 1854 and as a fellow of the Royal Statistical Society in 1855.

Hunt died on October 17, 1887 in London.

Additional Biographical Notes:

Clarke, Hyde, 1815-1895. English engineer and philologist.

Claudet, Antoine Francois Jean, 1797-1867, French photographer.

Cole, Henry, 1808-1882. English official.

De La Beche, Henry T. (Henry Thomas), 1796-1855. Geologist.

Fairbairn, William, Sir, 1789-1874. Noted Scottish engineer.

Farr, William, 1807-1883. English statistician.

Oldham, Thomas, 1816-1878. Geologist. Director of the Irish Geological Survey.

Ramsay, A. C. (Andrew Crombie), 1814-1891. Scottish geologist. Director-General of the Geological Survey of the United Kingdom.

Siemens, Charles William, 1823-1883. German metallurgist and electrician. Laid Atlantic cable.

Ure, Andrew, 1778-1857. Scottish chemist and scientific writer.

Wheatstone, Charles, Sir, 1802-1875. English physicist.

Wilson, George, 1818-1859. Scottish chemist and religious writer.

Collection Information

Physical description

32 items

Provenance

Initial acquisition was purchased from unknown source and accessioned, 1977 (1977 603.a ms, 733.a ms). Subsequent purchase from W. Myers auction (Sotheby's - Rawlins; accessioned, 06/30/1980 (1980 1301ms)

Indexing Terms


Personal Name(s)

  • Christie, Alfred
  • Clarke, Hyde, 1815-1895
  • Claudet, A. (Antoine), 1797-1867
  • Cole, Henry, 1808-1882
  • De La Beche, Henry T. (Henry Thomas), 1796-1855
  • Fairbairn, William, Sir, 1789-1874
  • Farr, William, 1807-1883
  • Hunt, Robert, 1807-1887
  • Oldham, Thomas, 1816-1878
  • Ramsay, A. C. (Andrew Crombie), 1814-1891
  • Ure, Andrew, 1778-1857
  • Wheatstone, Charles, Sir, 1802-1875
  • Wilson, George, 1818-1859

Subject(s)

  • Geology.
  • Light.
  • Photography.
  • Physics.
  • Scientific apparatus and instruments.


Detailed Inventory

Robert Hunt Letters
1842-1879 

Provenance: Items were acquired as 1977 603.a ms, unless otherwise noted.

Christie, Alfred.
Letter to Robert Hunt, 1807-1887
1842 November 23 

Provenance: 1977 733.a ms

De La Beche, Henry T. (Henry Thomas), 1796-1855.
Letter to Robert Hunt, 1807-1887
1846 July 21 
Oldham, Thomas, 1816-1878.
Letter to Robert Hunt, 1807-1887
1846 October 12 
De La Beche, Henry T. (Henry Thomas), 1796-1855.
Letter to Robert Hunt, 1807-1887
1846 October 17 
Oldham, Thomas, 1816-1878.
Letter to Robert Hunt, 1807-1887
1846 October 17 
Oldham, Thomas, 1816-1878.
Letter to Robert Hunt, 1807-1887
1848 February 17 
De La Beche, Henry T. (Henry Thomas), 1796-1855.
Letter to Robert Hunt, 1807-1887
1850 October 1 
Ure, Andrew, 1778-1857.
Letter to Robert Hunt, 1807-1887
1850 November 4 
Oldham, Thomas, 1816-1878.
Letter to Robert Hunt, 1807-1887
1852 October 28 
Wilson, George, 1818-1859.
Letter to Robert Hunt, 1807-1887
1853 January 22 
Cole, Henry, 1808-1882.
Letter to Robert Hunt, 1807-1887
1853 June 24 
Oldham, Thomas, 1816-1878.
Letter to Robert Hunt, 1807-1887
1854 April 14 
Claudet, A. (Antoine), 1797-1867.
Letter to Robert Hunt, 1807-1887
1856 January 10 
Wilson, George, 1818-1859.
Letter to Robert Hunt, 1807-1887
1856 February 27 
Wilson, George, 1818-1859.
Letter to [Robert Hunt, 1807-1887]
1856 March 15 
Farr, William, 1807-1883.
Letter to Robert Hunt, 1807-1887
1857 February 18 
Wilson, George, 1818-1859.
Letter to Robert Hunt, 1807-1887
1857 March 9 
Farr, William, 1807-1883.
Letter to Robert Hunt, 1807-1887
1857 May 13 
Cole, Henry, 1808-1882.
Letter to Robert Hunt, 1807-1887
1857 June 19 
Cole, Henry, 1808-1882.
Letter to Robert Hunt, 1807-1887
1857 November 26 
Wheatstone, Charles, Sir, 1802-1875.
Letter to Robert Hunt, 1807-1887
1858 July 29 
Clarke, Hyde, 1815-1895.
Letter to Robert Hunt, 1807-1887
1859 July 18 
Cole, Henry, 1808-1882.
Letter to Robert Hunt, 1807-1887
1859 December 28 
Fairbairn, William, Sir, 1789-1874.
Letter to Robert Hunt, 1807-1887
1860 April 17 
Cochrane, Arthur A..
Letter to Robert Hunt, 1807-1887
1860 April 23 

Provenance: 1977 733.a ms

Cole, Henry, 1808-1882.
Letter to Robert Hunt, 1807-1887
1861 June 20 
Cole, Henry, 1808-1882.
Letter to Robert Hunt, 1807-1887
1868 January 30 
Siemens, Charles William, 1823-1883.
Letter to Robert Hunt, 1807-1887
1877 October 9 
Ramsay, A. C. (Andrew Crombie), 1814-1891.
Letter to Robert Hunt, 1807-1887
1879 July 31 
Unidentified.
Letter to Robert Hunt, 1807-1887
August 3 

Provenance: 1977 733.a ms

Farr, William, 1807-1883.
Letter to Robert Hunt, 1807-1887
Undated