12 September 1849
Henry F. Talbot, Esq.
Your kind letter of June 27th was received and as we do not need the copy of the contract as yet we do not urge the sending of it.
We have paid the first two installments and are fully prepared to meet our letter of Exchange, coming due on the first of November. However, notwithstanding the greatest exertions we have not been able to sell Patent-right <1> for the several States to any extent. The Cholera-panic has not only prostrated business in general but ours also. People of some standing in all larger towns left for the Contry [sic] and in consequence little could be done to give the public an idea of what the Talbotype actually is. On the other side, a great many young men with some capital and an enterprising turn of mind who would have gladly embraced the opportunity of entering into something new and of profitable aspect all went to California. In the mean time we have not been idle. We employed our leisure time, during the summer, when nobody was in town, in trying new experiments, which cost us a great deal of money but we have been very successfull and as soon as the Talbotype becomes better known and appreciated in this Country we shall sell Rights for more States and take a great deal of pictures ourselves. But this requires evidently some time. Our is a vast Country and we have no London, where all England concentrates. We should therefore be extremely gratefull, if you would consent to extend the time for the payment of the two last installments for one year. We can certainly make shift to pay them as the originally come due but only at some considerable sacrifice, which would in some degree deprive us of the means to follow up our improvements and to make the Talbotype favourably known throughout the Country.
As a proof that we have made extraordinary efforts and to what degree of perfection we have brought the art already we enclose a small portrait of our great Statesman Henry Clay and several others and shall with the first sailing vessel despatch a package with our efforts in larger and largest portraits, which, we doubt not will meet your approbation and support our petition in some measure. <2>
You will also confer a particular favour by letting us know if your patent will be extended in England; because we are almost certain that we can procure an extension here, if such has been the case in England previously. A copy of your petition for this purpose would be of great service to us because we cold urge the same reasons here besides our own.
Recommending once more our above petition to your favourable consideration we remain, Sir, Your obedient servants
W. & F. Langenheim
1. WHFT's calotype process: Improvement in Photographic Pictures, US Letters Patent 5171, 26 June 1847..
2. The portrait of Clay is one of 15 known Langenheim photographs that were in WHFT's possession. These are now distributed between the British Library, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Media Museum in Bradford and in private collections.