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Document number: 4456
Date: 18 Mar 1842
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: COLLEN Henry
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA42-15
Last updated: 1st May 2012

29 Somerset Street
March 18. 1842.

Dear Sir

I shall be very glad that the agreement is signed before your departure for Italy, and that the accounts should be made up to Lady Day <1> with regret that the amount should be so small and hope that the next quarter may prove more productive – up to this time, I have received money for only 59 Portraits and 38 Copies, which makes me indebted to you a small fraction less than £21:10s. – You will have seen I have no doubt some of the opinions of the press, many Men connected with it having been here, and having written very favorable reports, I have taken a good number of their Portraits, and have worked very closely to get out of hand those which are gone. – I am still however very much teazed by the uncertainty attendant on the paper, or the preparation of it, and hope when you come to town again you will spare time to take two or three pictures here. – I am sorry to say that Ross <2> has not completed my Camera and I believe never will, as he has made all the arrangements for a concave paper-holder which cannot be made to answer, I have the Lens, but have not been able to succeed in managing it yet, and I therefore hope you will leave yours with me as I should be quite at fault now without it –

Sir David Brewster <3> has written to me for a finished portrait of myself, having already an unfinished one which you have sent him I shall therefore be glad if you will let me have the calotype, as I have but one impression of it, and that is a good deal injured. – I have always forgotten to ask you, if the five Ounces (by measure) of salt, to 6 gallons of water was the right proportion for the photographic paper, as I have sometimes doubted if it was quite right. – I have the Agreement as I received it from Mr Carpmael, <4> but whether it is the document, or a copy, I know not, I do not imagine my solicitor has any in his possession. –

I should be very glad if before you leave England you would give me an assurance of not having a competitor in London, I have worked very closely hitherto without any reward, and shall consider it very hard if I am interfered with just as [I] <5> am commencing to reap the fruits of my labour, – but hope when we meet you will have made up your mind to this point – I enclose an impression of the Comte St Aulaire’s <6> portrait – I have some I think better, but I wish I could say that all I do were as good –

I remain Dear Sir yours very truly
Henry Collen

Henry Fox Talbot Esq F.R.S.
&c &c
Lacock Abbey


1. Lady Day is one of the traditional English quarter days, the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin, on 25 March.

2. Andrew Ross (1798–1859), London optician & author.

3. Sir David Brewster (1781–1868), Scottish scientist & journalist.

4. William Carpmael (1804–1867), patent agent & engineer, London, drew up a similar agreement signed by Collen 29 February 1844 (Fox Talbot Collection, the British Library, 34890).

5. Text torn away under seal.

6. Louis de Beaupoil de Sainte-Aulaire (1778–1854) or Felix Achille de Beaupoil Sainte-Aulaire (1801–1844), artist.

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