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Darwin Correspondence Project

To ?   23 January [1879?]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Jan. 23d

Dear Sir

I procured (I believe from you) many years ago a small sheet of “Superior Gold-Beaters Skin: Whitings Patent”. it is used like Sticking plaister, but I want a sheet for Experimental purposes.—2 If any other similar sheets are sold which are transparent & thinner & more flexible, they wd be still more useful to me.—

When you send me the sheet of Gold-beaters skin, will you kindly look & see if any sheet is more flexible & thinner than the others, for it has to be folded round most delicate stems of plants.

Dear Sir | yours faithfully | Ch. Darwin


The year is conjectured from the reference to gold-beater’s skin (the outer coat of the caecum of an ox, used to separate sheets of gold being beaten into gold leaf). All the references to this material in CD’s extant letters are from June and July 1879; see, for example, letter to Francis Darwin, 25 June [1879].
CD described his use of gold-beater’s skin in experiments on the movements of radicles (roots) in Movement in plants, pp. 133, 137, 146, 182, 194.


Orders a sheet of gold-beater’s skin for plant experiments.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
Cleveland Health Sciences Library (Robert M. Stecher collection)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11841,” accessed on 20 October 2021,