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Document number: 6456
Date: 20 Aug 1851
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: DUNCOMBE George Francis
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA51-40
Last updated: 25th April 2012

Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations, 1851.
his royal highness prince albert, k.g.
&c. &c &c.
[decorative line]
office for the executive committee,
Exhibition Building,
Kensington Road, London.

August 20th 1851.


I am directed by the Executive Committee to acquaint you that Her Majestyís Comissioners propose to have Talbotypes taken of certain objects in the Exhibition for the purpose of illustrating the copies of the Reports of the Jurors which are to be presented to the Foreign Nations exhibiting on the present occasion, <1> and that the Executive Committee have made the necessary arrangements with Mr Henneman to avail themselves of his assistance in procuring the Talbotypes. Before engaging Mr Hennemanís services they had applied to Mr Owen to make some experiments for these & he kindly offered his gratuitous services. The Executive Committee consider it right that Mr Owen should be remunerated for the trouble he has taken & that he should be compensated for any impressions which he may furnish to the Commissioners. The Executive Committee however understand that this course might be considered as infringing you rights & therefore request your permission, under the special circumstances to carry out their wishes towards Mr Owen.

Should you be disposed to concur in this proposal the Executive Committee will not fail to make due acknowledgement of your liberality.

I have the honor to be Sir Your most obedient Servant.
G. Francis Duncombe
fn Secty

The Hon. F. Talbot
Laycock Abbey


1. Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, 1851: Reports by the Juries. Four volumes, illustrated by original photographic prints from negatives by Hugh Owen and Claude Marie Ferrier. In the copies given to WHFT, a dedicatory sheet was inserted (most likely printed up by him): 'This Work, on the Results of the Great Exhibition of 1851, Illustrated with Photographic Plates, being One of Fifteen Copies Given by the Royal Commissioners to H.F. Talbot, Esq. of Lacock Abbey, as The Inventor of this Branch of the Photographic Art, was by him presented to _____'. This publication caused WHFT considerable consternation at the time, for he felt that the Commissioners had stealthily and unfairly taken the job of printing the plates away from Nicolaas Henneman. For a summary of this complex situation, see Nancy B Keeler, 'Illustrating the "Reports by the Juries" of the Great Exhibition of 1851; Talbot, Henneman, and Their Failed Commission,' History of Photography, v. 6 no. 3, July 1982, pp. 257-272.