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Document number: 7746
Date: 14 Nov 1858
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: LLEWELYN John Dillwyn
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA58-105
Last updated: 13th July 2010

My dear Mr Talbot

It is no wonder that we should be all here fascinated with your new art of Photoglyphy <1> seeing how pleasant an introduction we have had into its arcana.

We indeed thoroughly enjoyed the week which Mrs Talbot and your daughters <2> spared us, and the advantage of seeing them prepare your plates for etching has saved us a long series of preliminary experiment –

I hope soon to send you some specimens to show that we have not altogether neglected these advantages. –

The simplicity of the manipulation strikes me very forcibly Unless I had seen it, I could hardly have believed that a metal engraving could have been produced so quickly and so easily.

What a contrast the new process offers in these respects to the complicated and laborious Photogalvanography, <3> the manipulations of which were as long as its polysyllabic name.

Besides which your engravings are all genuine photographs while the Photogalvanographs were all more or less assisted by the engraver’s tool.

There can indeed be no doubt of the importance of the great step which you have gained in the advance of this most interesting art.

I look forward to see all illustrated works printed in this manner, for who will accept the work of men’s hands when they can have the work of the sun’s rays.

I have no doubt (that as you suggest) our first failures proceeded from over heating the resin. I did not know that I could carry this too far, and heated the plate to 200º or 300º of Fahrenheit.

I think also that we erred in giving too long an exposure to the sun light. On these points however I am now cautioned and shall set to work with renewed zest A little experience will teach me what kind of photograph will engrave the best – whether one much or little developed, and when I know this I shall prepare some new pictures for the express purpose of etching from

and I am Yours very truly
J. D. Llewelyn

Nov. 14. 1858.


1. Photoglyphic Engraving, an improved method for making a photographic printing plate.

2. Constance Talbot, née Mundy (1811–1880), WHFT’s wife, Ela Theresa Talbot (1835–1893), WHFT’s 1st daughter, Rosamond Constance ‘Monie’ Talbot (1837–1906), artist & WHFT’s 2nd daughter and Matilda Caroline Gilchrist-Clark, ‘Tilly’, née Talbot (1839–1927), WHFT’s 3rd daughter.

3. In its initial stages photogalvanography used gelatin sensitised by potassium bichromate, but thereafter it followed the electrotype process, a process for turning daguerreotypes into printing plates by means of electrolysis. Invented by Paul Pretsch (1808–1873), Austrian photographer & inventor.

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