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Ralph Wedgwood's 'Nocto-Via-Polygraph' Stylographic Manifold Writer [Noctograph]

 Single Item
JL 1009

  • Request
A Ralph Wedgwood 'Nocto-Via-Polygraph' Stylographic Manifold Writer, as sent to Mrs. Ingram of Bath in January 1810.

The 'Nocto-Via-Polygraph' is made from black lacquered metal with a red-tanned leather spine containing a sewn pocket for a metal pointed stylus. The 'Nocto-Via-Polygraph' measures 26 x 22 cm and is held closed by a metal clip. Both front and reverse of the 'Nocto-Via-Polygraph' contain 17 horizontal apertures or spaces for writing in lines, revealing and holding in place the carbon paper beneath. Inside there are two sheets of carbon paper, one sheet of folded letter paper (with practice trials, including 'Mary Ingram Bath'), and a black lacquered metal tablet. There is also a loose 'small ivory wedge'.

With original wrapping, consisting of a piece of brown laid handmade wrapping paper, annotated 'Bills & Receipt belonging to Mrs Mary Ingram' and 'Writing Apparatus for the Blind'. This original bundle also contained:
  1. 53 sheets of blank folded letter paper, trimmed with gilded edges, in nine gatherings (eight of six sheets and one of five sheets). Leaf size 24.5 x 20.5 cm, each with the watermark 'J Whatman 1808'. Each gathering has a blind embossed circular stamp at the head/spine corner with 'PEN & STYLO GRAPHIC MANIFOLD WRITERS OXFORD ST 328' surrounded by 'R · WEDGWOOD · PATENTEE · LONDON'. Wrapped in a piece of brown wove handmade wrapping paper.
  2. a sewn booklet covered in purple handmade paper, with loose pieces of carbon paper approximately 25 x 20 cm stored between the leaves; a long strip of carbon paper (45 x 10 cm) folded in two; two pieces of carbon paper 28.5 x 24 cm [fragile, stored separately in box]; a sheet of carbon paper 48 x 38 cm folded into four; and a folded sheet of tissue paper. All wrapped together in a piece of brown laid handmade wrapping paper.
  3. a folded wrapper of blue pulled-paste paper (with directions printed on yellow paper for the 'Stylographic Manifold Writer and Penna-polygraph' stuck to the front and back) containing seven copies of a printed notice for R. Wedgwood’s Patent Manifold Writers and Penna-Polygraphs, printed on handmade woven paper, each with either the watermark 'Wedgwoods Patent' or 'Hollingworths 1807'. Originally wrapped in a piece of brown laid handmade wrapping paper, closed with sealing wax, annotated 'Mrs. Ingram No. 17 Somerset Place Bath' and '[?] Mail [?] Co. Jan[uar]y 20th 1810 Carriage Paid'.


  • c.1810


1 box

Language of Materials

  • English

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Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. JL 1009].
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JL 1009

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 21103


Ralph Wedgwood's 'Nocto-Via-Polygraph' Stylographic Manifold Writer [Noctograph], c.1810.

Biographical / Historical

Ralph Wedgwood (1766-1837), potter and inventor, was the eldest son of Thomas Wedgwood II (1734-1788), potter, and his wife Elizabeth Taylor. Thomas Wedgwood II was the cousin and business partner of Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795), master potter. Ralph Wedgwood obtained a patent for the noctograph (including the use of carbon paper) in 1806.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Jakob Maarleveld, September 2017.

Related Materials

Bodleian Libraries
  1. MS. Pigott d. 31 - A copy of Ralph Wedgwood's Patent Manifold Writer, slightly used, with some scribbling, written in about 1830-1840.
  2. JL 1008 - Improved Manifold Writer, c.1810s-1820s.
Catalogue of Nocto-Via-Polygraph Stylographic Manifold Writer, c.1810
Finding aid prepared by Andrew Honey and Rachael Marsay
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom