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Document number: 8366
Date: 12 Apr 1861
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: PRETSCH Paul
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA61-66
Last updated: 15th July 2010

3, Guildford Place, Russel [sic] Square
W.C. London
April 12th 1861


I have received the two blocks returned, and I am very much pleased, to perceive that you see some promising consequences for the future. - The six prints, sent to you, I beg to keep, and to accept them. -

I expect with great pleasure the copy of Strassburg Cathedral, done by your photoglyphic process. <1> My block of the same object has been accidentally done in the reversed position, because it has been photographed from a reversed copy, done from a photograph taken from nature. - My process of producing blocks never reverses an original, as you see for instance in "Fountains Abbey," and in "Priory at Hampstead," which have been done from the very same photographs, taken from nature.

I take advantage of the present opportunity to forward to you another parcel with nine specimens of my first process, with my humble request to favour me with their acceptance. They are all touched by the engraver; - "Brace of birds," "Monk," and the three landscapes I consider judiciously touched; - "Strassbourg Cathedral" (reversed) is too much touched, although we have paid only 6.10.0 to the engraver; - all the lines have been in the plate but he repeated them by the roulette which causes the handwork to be too much visible. However I can assure you that the real beautiful portions of the plate have not been done by the graver; - the hand of man is too poor to do such a thing. - "Rheims Cathedral" is very little touched; in fact only a few dark spots increased, and some dirt in a few places cleaned off. - "Virgin in marble" has been only cleaned. - I enclose also the copy of a pen & ink drawing, on whose copy the artist himself recognised every line done by himself. The impression at hand is rather a little weak. - I have still many plates more, the impressions of which I would like to show you if you come to town.

During the existence of the late company <2> I have been so tied up by legal proceedings that I could not act at my liberty. However now permit me the sincere assurance that it will not be my fault, if our relations in future do not become more satisfactory. If you will assist the present enterprise <3> by some of your influence there is not the slightest doubt that a great deal can be done by these processes, and they will speedily form - by careful working and future improvements - quite a new feature in arts, due to the progress of civilisation in this country.

Permit me to remain Sir your very obedt. Servt
Paul Pretsch

H. F. Talbot Esq.


1. Both Pretsch and WHFT had made photographic engravings of images of Strasbourg Cathedral by their respective processes. See Doc. No: 08363 and Doc. No: 08683.

2. The Patent Photogalvanographic Company produced heavily retouched reproductions of photographs. WHFT considered that the patent infringed Part 1 of his own [see Doc. No: 07253] insofar as the first part of Pretsch's process too used the combination of gelatine and potassium bichromate. Pretsch's second part, however, involved electrotyping - i.e. 'galvanography' - whereas WHFT's used etching. WHFT began legal action [see Doc. No: 07660] in 1856, but dropped it when the company ran out of money and fell apart [see Doc. No: 07465]. 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.

3. There had been a proposal that WHFT should join Pretsch, Joseph Hogarth (b. 1802), London printseller and others in a new company to be set up to exploit photographic engraving. See Doc. No: 08340. Negotiations also took place for a licence to use his process, but these too eventually fell through.

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