8 Langton Street
4 March 1845
Having engaged to read a paper on Photography to the Members of a Mechanics Institute & of a Philosophical Society of which I am a Member<1> & wishing to be able to present a specimen of the beautiful art of which you are the inventor, I take the liberty of soliciting your kind assistance; I much wish to illustrate my paper as well as possible & have not unfortunately time to try the Calotype process myself <2> - therefore trust that you will excuse the liberty of my requesting the favour of some small specimen, negative & positive for the purpose - I do assure you, Sir, that I make this request with much diffidence & shall be much indebted to you for even the loan of a picture, as I have tried several places in London without success -
I have for some time practised the process on Silver <3> & take the further liberty of begging your acceptance of a small picture - not a good one but the best I have just now in duplicate - It was taken in 2 seconds, with lens 2 inches in diameter & 8/2 inches focus & as you will observe by reflection also, (a metallic speculum of my own manufacture) when the weather becomes more favourable, I hope without appearing too presumptious [sic] to have the pleasure of forwarding one more worthy your acceptance -
I am Sir Your very obt Servant
H. Fox Talbot Esq
1. This was presumably in Bristol but no mention of the lecture has been traced thus far.
2. Owen soon became a master of the calotype himself. After an exhibition by the members of the Calotype Club in London, he was described as the "gentleman of Bristol well known for his talent in his art...whose various views...justified the reputation which has earned." 'Fine Arts: The Calotype Society,' The Athenĉum, no. 1051, 18 December 1847, p. 1304.
3. That is, the Daguerreotype.