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Document number: 242
Date: 07 Apr 1857
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: BARCLAY George
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Last updated: 31st December 2012

22 Gerrard St W.
April 7 18572 <1>


The Gentleman <2> who has for some time been at the Galvanographic Compy <3> acting as Electrotypist <4> but from whom he has now separated called on me this day. he is an old acquaintance of mine. has been manager for a long time at Elkingtons,<5> and is thoroughly acquainted with electrotype as an art.

You some time since asked me for such a person. besides his Knowledge of the various processes of the company may be of use to you though you know my opinion that the germ of all good is in your own and that the Company’s is a clumsy round about process. I cannot refrain from immediately putting you in possession of my Knowledge of what is open to you.

Most truly
Geo Barclay

H. Fox Talbot Esq–


1. Written in another hand.

2. Probably Frederick Ewbank Leefe (1811–1883), electroplater, who left employment at Elkington’s in Birmingham to join Pretsch and Fenton at Holloway. [See Doc. No: 07364].

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.

4. Electrotyping, a manufacturing method for producing facsimiles, grew up concurrently with photography, having been announced by Moritz von Jacobi in St Petersburg at the end of 1838. A mould was formed from an original (such as a printing plate) and this mould was made electrically conductive by brushing with graphite; electricity could then be used to deposit copper in this mould, thus duplicating the original. In the printing industry, it eventually supplanted the stereotype process, where a paper maché mould was employed to make duplicate plates. Barclay obviously felt that WHFT’s approach of making producing multiple virtually identical original printing plates was more direct and superior. [See Larry J Schaaf, Sun Pictures Catalogue Twelve: Talbot and Photogravure (New York: Hans P Kraus, Jr, 2003), pp. 40–41].

5. See Doc. Nos: 04616; 04854; and 04878.

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