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Darwin Correspondence Project

To William Baxter or W. W. Baxter   21 March [1843–82]1

Be so good as to fill the enclosed Bottle in following proportions.—

Verdigris in powder [drachm]i

Sal Ammoniac. do [drachm]i

Lamp-Black [drachm]ss

Water [drachm]x2

Dear Sir | Yours faithfully | C. Darwin

Down. | March 21st


The date range is established by CD’s residence in Down from September 1842 onwards (Correspondence vol. 2, Appendix II). William Baxter and his son William Walmisley Baxter of Bromley, Kent, were CD’s regular chemists.
The recipe (one drachm of verdigris, one drachm of sal ammoniac, half a drachm of lamp-black, ten drachms of water) is for ink suitable for writing on zinc plant labels (W. Herbert 1837, p. 411). There is an annotated copy of W. Herbert 1837 in the Darwin Library–CUL (see Marginalia 1: 372–6); a note inside the back cover reads, ‘411 Labels for Gardens’.


Herbert, William. 1837. Amaryllidaceæ; preceded by an attempt to arrange the monocotyledonous orders, and followed by a treatise on cross-bred vegetables, and supplement. London: James Ridgway & Sons.

Marginalia: Charles Darwin’s marginalia. Edited by Mario A. Di Gregorio with the assistance of Nicholas W. Gill. Vol. 1. New York and London: Garland Publishing. 1990.


Requests a mixture of verdigris, sal ammoniac, and lamp-black.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Walmisley Baxter; William Baxter
Sent from
Source of text
Bromley Historic Collections, Bromley Central Library (Baxter Collection, 1136/1)
Physical description
ALS 1p

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 13772,” accessed on 19 July 2024,