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Document number: 7367
Date: 26 Feb 1857
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: BARCLAY George
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA57-6
Last updated: 25th March 2012

22 Gerrard St Soho. W. <1>
Feby 26 1857

Sir

At a lecture lately given by Mr Malone <2> at the Royal Institution I had in my hand the glass from which one of the plates of the Photogalvanographic Company <3> was made and the plate itself or rather one of them for as I now hear some plates only work of 150 impressions & none more than 500. They must have many plates of each before any satisfactory mercantile result can follow

I was astonished to find your gelatine & Potass ground really breaks up in the same way as an aquatint ground into granulation and this it is that prints on the glass the subject is most perfect and beautiful not a blemish or fault throughout and no doubt a close or coarse grain may be the result as a strong or weak solution is used not so perfect is the copper whether form the want of care in manipulation or from want of capacity in the material they use to electrotype from the copper was far less perfect

I now much regret not having tried my hand at your process as this granulation must have attracted my attention though it has somehow escaped Yours.

However my motive in writing is to say that I think you are yet nearer the thing wanted than they are on account of the durability of your productions in which it is singular I cannot detect a trace of that granulation bit so superficial that it does not penetrate to the steel, or does it sop and dissolve into the liquid you use to bite in with. if the former cant a mere film be laid on if the latter would not a thin coat some kind of Varnish protect it from an acid that would bile the steel quicker

Interested as I have been in Your progress I cannot but feel a little, dismay at seeing others step in and win, where all was gained, for had you placed Yourself in the hands of any engraver to witness your own manipulation it seems to me impossible to have escaped perfection three Years since

Then look at their delay. after it is produced on the glass, an impression must be got, an electrotype must be made, say 2 or 3 days – with you an hour – and in steel!

If the ground is granular, why not the biting?

Most Respectfully Yrs
Geo Barclay


Notes:

1. London.

2. Thomas Augustine Malone (1823-1867), photographer & chemist.

3. The Patent Photo-Galvanographic Company (commonly, The Photogalvanographic Company) was based on the work of Paul Pretsch (1808–1873), Austrian photographer & inventor and former Manager of the Imperial Printing Establishment in Vienna. Located in Holloway Road, Islington, London, from 1856-1857, Pretsch took over as manager and Roger Fenton (1819–1869), photographer & lawyer, was a partner and their chief photographer. Starting in late 1856, they published a serial portfolio, Photographic Art Treasures, or Nature and Art Illustrated by Art and Nature, illustratated with photogalvanographs derived from several photographer's works. Photogalvanography was uncomfortably closely based on elements of WHFT’s patented 1852 Photographic Engraving but, unlike Talbot, the plates were heavily retouched by hand. Compounding the legal objections of Talbot, their former manager, Duncan Campbell Dallas, set up a competing company to produce the Dallastype. The company collapsed and near the end of 1860 Pretsch, out of money, allowed his patent to lapse. A public appeal was launched in 1861 to assist him but he returned to Vienna in 1863 in ill health, going back to the Imperial Printing Establishment, but finally succumbing to cholera.

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