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Document number: 2742
Date: 02 Feb 1874
Recipient: HEATH Robert Vernon
Author: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Collection: Royal Photographic Society Coll, National Media Museum, Bradford
Collection number: T/2 1272
Last updated: 29th October 2013

[This letter was reproduced as "An Autograph Letter by Fox Talbot" in Photography, Issue 609, 12 July 1900, p. 545. It was then part of the collection of the London photographer and stationer, Horatio Nelson King (1828-1905). A native of Trowbridge, Wiltshire, near Lacock Abbey, through the 1870s his studio was in Bath. He also owned at least one Ruskin letter.]

4 Circus
2 Feby 1874

Dear Sir

I never lectured at the Royal Institution <1> on any subject.

The Calotype process was first published by me early in the year 1841 – But my first method “Photogenic drawing” <2> was published in January 1839 – On a Friday evening in that month at the R. Instn Faraday <3> announced the “Daguerreotype” <4> and my invention at the same time, and invited the audience to inspect the specimens displayed in the library –

In the autumn of 1840 I discovered the fact that an invisible image could be developed by gallo-nitrate of silver – This immediately accelerated the process a hundred times, and made it much quicker than the Daguerreotype, but soon afterwards Goddard <5> improved the Daguerreotype by the use of Bromine, and this made the processes equal again in rapidity.

Your lecture at the R. Instn will I presume embrace the subject of photographic Engraving and the other processes which are more or less analogous to it. If so, I will have the pleasure of sending you some specimens of my mode of engraving, which I first published in 1853 – but will defer any remarks upon the process until I hear that this is one of the subjects to be included in your lecture.

I remain Dr Sir Yours faithfully
H. Fox Talbot

Vernon Heath Esq


1. Royal Institution, London. [See Doc. No: 02741 to which this is a reply].

2. WHFT, Some Account of the Art of Photogenic Drawing, or the Process by which Natural Objects may be made to Delineate Themselves without the Aid of the Artist’s pencil. Read before the Royal Society, January 31, 1839 (London: R & J E Taylor, 1839).

3. Prof Michael Faraday (1791–1867), scientist.

4. On 7 January 1839, Dominique François Jean Arago (1786–1853), French physicist, astronomer & man of science announced the invention of the daguerreotype.

5. John Frederick Goddard (1797–1866), lecturer & photographer.

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