I am mch oblig to you for
by yr vy frndly lr of th 14th & for for the specns wch accompd it – I hve no dbt there is much in the O. establt at Sthn wch wd intrst me grtly to see & I hope tht some day or or I may have the oppny
But the questn wch y. hve askd me in yr lr viz.
Has Whether any acct of yr my pss has been yet publd? prov proves to me beyd a dbt that at prest y are unacqd wth the fact tht in 52 I gave full publicity to an invn [illegible deletion] in phoy, for wch I took out a patt wch pss depds mnly on the fact (of wch I was the 1st discovr) tht a mixt of bichrom pot wth gum when sprd on any S.face & exposd to light, becomes by the actn of lt insol. in wr so that if it were is immsed in wr subseqly, the wr wd removes only those pts of the Gum on wch the lt hd not acted.
I subseqly in 58 took out anor Ptt impvmts on the pss, but these altho’ considble in thsves are not materl to be here mentd
I was strongly of opinn that this invn wd prove of gt utilty whenevr it came to be adoptd in a lge scale either by th Govt or by some enterprisg Capitst or Compy
But in 56 or 57 a Cpy ws formed in Ln wth th title of the Ph Go Gc Cy who began operns on an extsve scale Their pss consisted in this: they sprd upn Glass a mixt. of bichr pot & gum : when dry they placed upn it a photh or engrg & placed it in th lt to obtain a phc imge on the gum – They then placd the sht of glass in wr wch removd the insble portn leavg a pict. on the glass in vy low basrelief. They then electrogd the pict on the glass & thus obtnd a copperpl. impressd wth a simr pict. fm wch thy printed
in the usl manr in wch engrvgs are phe d nums impressns by mns of a C. plate printg pss –
This pss bg carrd on in disregard of my patt right a correspce ensued betwn my Solr & theirs, wch provged unsatisfy and I commencd an actn agst thm in the Crt of Q. B.
In consqce of this the Compy, wch I hve no dbt thoro’ly exd the
matter questn findg they had no case gave the matter up & dissved the Compy (A when of course the legal proceedgs (agst thm) were dropped as I had not the least wish to gve unnecessry trouble.
A) discontg entirely
the their pss or manufre
One advtge however accrued, viz. tht th patt was on this occasn vy thoro’ly exd by the lawys & or psns empld by the Compy who
found no flaw in it if they had fnd any flaw in it, wd have ? advisd the Compy to prosecute
Wth respt to yr own vy ings & successful pss y will excuse me if I feel a certn degree of embarrassmt <[llegible deletion] in (D) on the Subjt The fact is tht I hve spnt a lge sum of money upon
the Scce of my Phc invns (amtg to many thousd pds 8 or 9,000£ at the least ) & it does appr to me a hard thing that when these invns are, as many of them in successn hve bn, adoptd by the Govt for the Publc Servce tht no portn of the advtge (A) is ever reapd by the origl invtors – It is true tht our Statesmen & publc men B have not the slightst wish to perpetrate an injustice but the facts of Science (C) too often remain unknn to thm their thoughts bg absorbd by or & higher mattrs –
D) in speakg to you, the inventn, on the subjt
A) wch thus accrues to the Public, is ever...
B) at the head of deptmts Cabt Ministrs & the like
C) & the claims of Sctc men
I belve & I thk it is capble of proof tht considbl sums of money hve bn sav’d b th Pc by the use of my invns, yet never has the slightst acknt bn made by H M Govt Now here is anor beautiful & useful invn wch y. hve brought nearly to perfectn & wch I assure y. I admire vy much : but it trenches upn my rights as a patentee, & ∴ if it is intded to employ it for the plic servce (
wch and I am confidt sure might be done it wd prove useful in many ways) I think the Governt ought in the 1st instce to take a licse fm me for the use of that part of th process wch was invented by me my inventn
This licse need not be calculated on such a scale as to place any impedimt in the way of the
full developmt free use of the Photozincogry because another mode exists ( of insuring a just remuneratn) wch I am sure wd prove most satisfacty to evyone and this with you leave I will proceed to explain
There are at th Admiralty & I have no doubt at the Office of the Ordce Survy, & at other Govt offices a vy large no of maps plans drawgs &c wch it wd be
vy useful to imposs to publish but the thing cannot be of full size, because they wd fill folio volumes ; but wch if reduced to a small 8vo size by photogrphy & then publd wd be make handy & useful books. But when maps & plans are so much reduced in a Camera the lines & names become so minute close & crowded that your they cd not be rendered printed distinctly by your process of zincography whereas on the contry by my photglc pss is capable of copying very the closest & finest engravgs, sometimes wout blurring a single line (A) There being then this broad distinctn betwn thm it folls that both invns might be largely employd in the public servce without injuring interfering with each other and ∴ if I have made myself intellble expld the matter clearly it only remns it is for me to say tht if you thk fit to recomd to the head of the Ordce deptmt ( is it not Sdny Herbt) to take a licse for the Governt use use of my patt on behalf of the Govt that licse would of course include both yr invn & mine & place the matter on a just and equitable basis – If in your opinn Mr Herbt wd refer the questn to the Govt Solr for his opinn I shd be happy to show that gentn the paper legal proceedgs wch took place wth the Ph G Gc Cy, as I have no doubt they took all the Grn the discussn wch then took place exhaustd pretty nearly all tht cd be sd on the subjt
I will say no more on matters of business at prest but just advert to a perfectly
true & just fair criticsm wch y hve made on my phoglyps ‘from Nature’ – These are certnly mch too small, & do not do justice to the art by any means but the fact is, that as I have no assist, I select small plates as giving me less trouble – & being well aware that The principle is exactly the same whatever the size of the plate But of course – the public taste will require larger views whenever the pss wch is now mainly experimental is judged to have come to that a suffict degree of perfectn wch to use for the cern of for which a vol of specns a vol of specns is publd –
A) on the or hd yr process has
a gr the advtge when the plate is large & the lines or letters are bold –
15 17, 1860
I am much obliged to you for
by your very friendly letter of the fourteenth and for for the specimens which accompanied it – I have no doubt there is much in the Ordnance establishment at Southampton which would interest me greatly to see and I hope that some day or other I may have the opportunity. But the question which you have asked me in your letter, viz., Has Whether any account of your my process has been yet published? proves to me beyond a doubt that at present you are unacquainted with the fact that in 1852 I gave full publicity to an invention [illegible deletion] in photogrpahy, for which I took out a patent which process depends mainly on the fact (of which I was the first discoverer) that a mixture of bichromate of potash with gum when spread on any surface and exposed to light, becomes by the action of light insoluble in water so that if it were is immersed in water subsequently, the water washed removes only those parts of the Gum on which the light [has] not acted.
I subsequently in 1858 took out another Patent [for] improvements on the process, but these although considerable in themselves are not material to be here mentioned
considered. I was strongly of opinion that this invention would prove of great utility whenever it came to be adopted in a large scale either by the Government or by some enterprising Captialist or Company. But in 1856 or 1857 a Company was formed in London with the title of the Photogalvanographic Company who began operations on an extensive scale <1> Their process consisted in this: they spread upon Glass a mixture of bichromate of potash and gum : when dry they placed upon it a photograph or engraving and placed it in the light to obtain a photographic image on the gum – They then placed the sheet of glass in water which removed the insoluble <2> portion leaving a picture on the glass in very low bas relief. They then electrotyped the picture on the glass and thus obtained a copperplate impressed with a similar picture from which they printed in the usual manner in which engravings are printed numerous impressions by means of a Copperplate printing press.
This process being carried on in disregard of my patent right a correspondence ensued between my Solicitor and theirs, which prov
ged unsatisfactory and I commenced an action against them in the Court of Queen’s Bench. In consequence of this the Company, which I have no doubt thoroughly explored the matter question finding they had no case gave the matter up and dissolved the Company, discontinuing entirely the their process of manufacture when of course the legal proceedings (against them) were dropped as I had not the least wish to give unnecessary trouble. One advantage however accrued, viz. that the patent was on this occasion very thoroughly explored by the lawyers and other persons employed by the Company who found no flaw in it ? if they had found any flaw in it, would have advised the Company to persevere.
With respect to your own very ingenious and successful process you will excuse me if I feel a certain degree of embarrassment [illegible deletion] in speaking to you, the inventor, on this subject. The fact is that I have spent a large sum of money upon
the Science of my Photographic inventions (amounting to many thousands of pounds eight or nine-thousand pounds at the least) and it does appear to me a hard thing that when these inventions are, as many of them in succession have been, adopted by the Government for the Public Service that no portion of the advantage which thus accrues to the Public, is ever reaped by the original inventors – It is true that our Statesmen and public men at the head of departments Cabinet Ministers and the like have not the slightest wish to perpetrate an injustice but the facts of Science and the claims of Scientific men ???? too often remain unknown to them their thoughts being absorbed by other and higher matters –
I believe and I think it is capable of proof that considerable sums of money have been saved by saved by the Public by the use of my inventions, yet never has the slightest acknowledgement been made by Her Majesty’s Government. Now here is another beautiful and useful invention which you have brought nearly to perfection and which I assure you I admire very much : but it treads upon my rights as a patentee, and therefore if it is intended to employ it for the public service (
which and I am confident sure might be done it would prove useful in many ways) I think the Government ought in the first instance to take a license from me for the use of that part of the process which was invented by me my invention. This license need not be calculated on such a scale as to place any impediment in the way of the full development free use of the Photozincography because another mode exists ( of insuring a just remuneration) which I am sure would prove most satisfactory to everyone and this with your leave I will proceed to explain.
There are at the Admiralty and I have no doubt at the Office of the Ordnance Survey, and at other Government offices a very large number of maps plans drawings, etc., which it would be
very useful impossible to publish but the thing cannot be of full size, because they would fill folio volumes; but which if reduced to a small octavo size by photography and then published would be make handy and useful books. But when maps and plans are so much reduced in a Camera the lines and names become so minute close and crowded that your they could not be rendered printed distinctly by your process of zincography whereas on the contrary by my photoglyphic process is capable of copying very the closest and finest engravings, sometimes without blurring a single line on the other hand your process has a great the advantage when the plate is large and lines or letters are bold – There being then this broad distinction between them it follows that both inventions might be largely employed in the public service without injuring interfering with each other and therefore if I have made myself intelligible explained the matter clearly it only remains it is for me to say that if you think fit to recommend to the head of the Ordnance department (is it not Sidney Herbert?) <3> to take a license for the Government use use of my patent on behalf of the Government that license would of course include both yoru invention and mine and place the matter on a just and equitable basis – If in your opinion Mr Herbert would refer the question to the Government Solicitor for his opinion I should be happy to show that gentleman the paper legal proceedings which took place with the Photogalvanographic Company, as I have no doubt they too all the Gentlemen the discussion which then took place exhausted pretty nearly all that could be said on the subject.
I will say no more on matters of business at present but just advert to a perfectly
true and just fair criticism which you have made on my photoglyphs ‘from Nature’ – These are certainly much too small, and do not do justice to the art by any means but the fact is, that as I have no assistant, I select small plates as giving me less trouble – and being well aware that The principle is exactly the same whatever the size of the plate But of course – the public taste will require larger views whenever the process which is now mainly experimental is judged to have come to that a sufficient degree of perfection which to use for the certain of for which a volume of specimens a volume of specimens is published–
1. 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.
2. WHFT obviously meant to say that it removed the soluble portion, leaving the insoluble portion on the glass.
3. Sydney Herbert (1810–1861), War Secretary, and hence James’ superior, in 1860.