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Document number: 5989
Date: 11 Sep 1847
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: KREEFT John Christopher Tobias
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA47-69
Last updated: 20th February 2012

9. Billiter Square.
11 Septr 1847.


In accordance with your wishes I now beg to transmit your original Letter (& extract translations) you left me yesterday, – & I shall be happy to write to Messrs Escher, Wyss & Co <1> on the subject.

I am Sir Your obedient St
Christopher Kreeft

H. Fox Talbot Esq

Lacock Abbey


Extract translation.


26 Aug. 1847.

H. Fox Talbot Esquire. London

In March last we gave instructions to Mr Christr Kreeft to take out a caveat for us, for the Application of the Gases generated by explosion of Gun Cotton to the purpose of a motive power – A short time back this friend informs us that you had actually taken out a patent for a similar invention. It is far from our intention to detract from the merit which is so justly due to you, but we cannot refrain, striving as we are to address the same objects, from opening a friendly correspondence with you, in the hope that in spite of our difference of country it will not be unsatisfactory to you to hear of our performance. Our Engine of 10 Horses power made at the celebrated manufactory of Messrs Escher Wyss & Co here, is practical in its construction & our experiments on a Land engine have been tolerably successful. We find however an alteration in the reservoir of the Gas to be necessary as in consequence of the long continued explosions the deposit left by the Cotton increases to such a degree that the strokes of the pistons (which we observe you also adopt in your apparatus) are thereby impeded – We are convinced our Machine is the best for an Aerial Machine yet made in consequence of its [illegible] light construction, combined with adequate strength – but we are sure on the other hand that Gun cotton is too expensive at present to be applicable for any other than as motive power to a flying Machine – & we only recommend this Invention as valuable for that purpose & not as applicable to other mechanical arrangements.

Our Machine is not yet completed for want of the necessary means – we sought the honor of carrying out our undertaking without the assistance of a third party but our limited resources, were the cause of delay & rendered the finishing of the Engine quite impossible. We therefore now take the liberty of proposing to you to assist us in Carrying out our [illegible] Inventions not doubting that – together with superior talent the necessary means for the purpose are at your disposal – We await your reply as it will afford us great pleasure to hear from you.

Our invention is proof of our ability & Mr C. Kreeft who is intimately connected with the house of Messrs Escher Wyss & Co here will willingly obtain any information you may desire as to our character &c &c

We are Yours [illegible]
Pr Leonh: Bucher
Pr Jul: Hanisch

H. Fox. Talbot Esq.

H. Fox Talbot Esquire
Lacock Abbey


1. A Swiss company, founded in Zurich in 1805 as a wool-spinning factory by Johann Kaspar Escher vom Glas (1775–1859), it was converted to a machine and engine factory in 1810.

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