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Document number: 2753
Date: 14 Feb 1874
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: HEATH Vernon
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Last updated: 25th March 2012

43 Piccadilly
Feby 14th 1874

Dear Sir

Your letter, <1> for which please accept my thanks, was duly delivered. I was then on my way to Paris, and it has only just now come to hand – It gave me just the information I wanted: – I was certain I heard the announcement of your own photographic process at the Royal Institution, and I now learn how I heard it from your letter<2> – I have Calotype prints which I obtained in 1842 at my Uncles place in Berkshire,<3> and I am going to use them in comparison with my Autotype <4> prints from negatives on plates 48 x 38 inches in evidence of progress – By the way I shall be much obliged if you can give me the exact date in Jany 1839 of the announcement you mention Mr Faraday made: the records of the Institution do not help me with sufficient accuracy<5>

In my lecture I shall naturally share refer to the various processes which led to autotype, and I shall make use of an abstract of Mr Malones lecture at the Royal Institution on the 13th of Feby 1857: <6> – especially of that portion of it which refers to you own engraving process; and as I intend to occupy the library with illustrations of various processes, I shall be much obliged if it should be in your power to give me any assistance

I am Dear Sir Yours faithfully
Vernon Heath

H. Fox Talbot Esqre


1. Doc. No: 02742.

2. Royal Institution, London. On 25 January 1839, at the end of his usual Friday lecture, Michael Faraday (1791-1867) pointed out the special exhibition in the library, which was the first showing of WHFT's photogenic drawings to the public. WHFT, if he attended, did not speak at the event.

3. Robert Vernon (1774-1849), who in 1845 made a major bequest of paintings to the National Gallery in London. His Berkshire residence was Ardington House, in the Vale of White Horse, now part of Oxfordshire.

4. Autotypes were permanent carbon photographic prints that were used in British book illustration from the late 1860s. The Autotype Company of London sold licenses and materials and also produced quantities of prints on request. Some were sold through their Autotype Fine Art Gallery and the operation lasted until the 1950s.

5. see note 2

6. Thomas Augustine Malone (1823-1867), photographer & chemist. His lecture, "On the Application of Light and Electricity to the Production of Photographs (Photogalvanography)," was given to a "crowded room." He showed some 1827 specimens of photographic engraving by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. This was followed by a display of recent specimens of photography in the library.

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