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Document number: 232
Date: 24 Jan 1859
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number: envelope 20701
Last updated: 14th March 2012

La Belle Sauvage Yard,
Ludgate Hill, E.C.
London, Jany 24th <1> 1859

H. Fox Talbot Esqr


We think it right to bring under your notice the enclosed <2> advertisements which appeared in the Athenæum <3> of last week. You will see that it refers to the process by Herr Pretsch <4> in reference to which we believe Mr Crookes <5> wrote you at our request when desired by Mr Pretsch to give publicity to his pretensions through “The Photographic News,” <6> a proposal which we declined upon learning that you [illegible deletion] considered it would be prejudicial to your rights unless accompanied with a suitable recognition of them for the part of Mr Pretsch.

We trust that the disadvantage which cannot fail to result to our Journal from this subject being dealt with in another, as well as the importance of the subject to Yourself will furnish our excuse for thus bringing the matter directly under your notice –

We are Sir Your obedient Servants
Petter & Galpin

H. Fox Talbot Esq
Lacock Abbey
Nr Chippenham


1. Written in author’s hand.

2. No enclosure.

3. The Athenaeum (London).

4. Paul Pretsch (1808–1873), Austrian photographer & inventor; founder of the Photogalvanographic Company. Pretsch had developed a process for photographic engraving, the first part of which employed gelatine and potassium bichromate while the second part involved electrotype. WHFT claimed that the first part of Pretsch’s process infringed his own patent: WHFT, Improvements in Photographic Engraving, No. 565 of October 1852. For Pretsch’s response to WHFT see Doc. No: 07805. The Patent Photo-Galvanographic Company (commonly, The Photogalvanographic Company, based on the work of Pretsch, was 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.

5. Sir William Crookes (1832–1921), chemist & physicist.

6. Photographic News, the first number of which appeared on 10 September 1858. [See Doc. No: 07682].

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