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Document number: 8374
Date: 16 Apr 1861
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: PRETSCH Paul
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA61-70
Last updated: 13th July 2010

3 Guildford Place, Russel Square
W.C. London

April 16th 1861


I have received the parcel with specimens returned; <1> - it is quite correct that I have but few copies left, however if they are of some pe interest to you, or if they can serve any purpose, I am willingly to send them to you again for your acceptance.

I thank you very much for your specimen of "Strassburg Cathedral;" <2> - it is exceedingly interesting to me.

Permit me to add here a few observations about improving a printing plate by the engraver. It ought to be done judiciously, and not more that necessary or advisable, because the plate can be spoiled very easely by too much handwork. The faults or errors to be remedied, consist either 1. in imperfections of the original, or 2. in accidents during manipulating the process, viz. dust and unevenness in drying, - incorrect exposition or development, - wrong proportion of chemicals and organic matter &c. &c. &c. - Praxis and experience, obtained by unremitting attention and care, enable us to prevent and obviate many of the mentioned accidents. In some instances I have been able to publish impressions from plates, absolutely untouched by the graver; - there are some of them in my Specimen book, and I am willingly to submit them to your examination. However to make the matter clear and convincing at once, I forward to you two copperplates (matrix & printing plate) produced by my process, and absolutely untouched by the graver; also one of the first impressions of the very same printing-plate.

Therefore you see here by evidence of eyesight, that I can do the whole of my plate by natural process; - I have done so in many instances; - I will do so more and more, - and I shall do so in all cases, except if the original requires some repair, improvement or correction, which is after all certainly no crime, if it is judiciously done; - and it is very doubtful, whether any process of such engraving will be practically, which does not allow any improvement by human hand.

I do not suppose that you thouroughly know the principles of my two processes, espeisally not of my second for the letterpress. <3> I am not doubted that the problem is solved, and I would like very much to gain your cooperation for this purpose, which could be done very easely, I think, if you take part in the Company, to be erected. <4>

Expecting to hear very soon from you again, permit me to remain Sir Yours very faithfully
Paul Pretsch

Henry Fox Talbot Esq.


1. See Doc. No: 08370.

2. See Doc. No: 08683.

3. Pretsch had been working on a method of producing plates for typographic [rather than intaglio] printing - see Doc. No: 08342. [See H. J. P. Arnold, William Henry Fox Talbot: Pioneer of Photography and Man of Science (London: Hutchinson Benham, 1977), pp. 289-290].

4. There had been a proposal that Talbot 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.

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