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Document number: 6510
Date: 08 Nov 1851
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: THOMPSON Charles Thurston
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA51-80
Last updated: 25th April 2012

[This letter is also summarised, in context, in WHFT's manuscript notes on his continuing correspondence with the Executive Committee - see Doc. No: 15000]

Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations, 1851.
his royal highness prince albert, k.g.
&c &c &c
office for the executive committee
Exhibition Building,

Novr 8.. 1851.


I am directed by the Executive Committee to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of Novr 1. in which you point out the importance of causing Photographs to be properly fixed, and I am to thank you for the interest you kindly manifest on the subject

The attention of the Executive Committee had already been directed to this subject, which the specimens of Painting submitted by Mr Henneman, made them still more sensible of the importance of the point you allude to

The Executive Committee however trust that their arrangements will sufficiently provide against the evil, but they will forward your suggestion to Dr Playfair

In reference to your allusion to the cost of producing the Photographs I am instructed by the Executive committee to remark that; since they discussed certain proposals with Mr Henneman, which he did not accept satisfactorily they have investigated more fully that part of the subject, and have found that, the materials necessary for producing impressions do not cost so much as 3d each impression, whilst Mr Hennemans charge first proposed was 2s/6d, which would have been at the rate of 1000 per Cent, for Labour, Royalty & Risk a charge which the Executive committee cannot refrain from saying appears to them calculated very much to limit the gratuitous distribution of the impressions by the Commissioners to Foreign Countries, Public Libraries, &c;<1> and to defeat the desire of Her Majestys Commissioners, that, the Public should enjoy the privilege of purchasing them, especially as the price proposed by Mr Henneman was, in the latter case, no less than 5s/

I have the honor to be, Sir, Your Obedt Servant,
C. Thurston Thompson

The Honle Fox Talbot


1. These were eventually published as Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, 1851: Reports by the Juries. Four volumes, illustrated by original photographic prints from negatives by Hugh Owen and Claude Marie Ferrier. In the copies given to WHFT, a dedicatory sheet was inserted (most likely printed up by him): 'This Work, on the Results of the Great Exhibition of 1851, Illustrated with Photographic Plates, being One of Fifteen Copies Given by the Royal Commissioners to H.F. Talbot, Esq. of Lacock Abbey, as The Inventor of this Branch of the Photographic Art, was by him presented to _____'. This publication caused WHFT considerable consternation at the time, for he felt that the Commissioners had stealthily and unfairly taken the job of printing the plates away from Nicolaas Henneman. For a summary of this complex situation, see Nancy B Keeler, 'Illustrating the "Reports by the Juries" of the Great Exhibition of 1851; Talbot, Henneman, and Their Failed Commission,' History of Photography, v. 6 no. 3, July 1982, pp. 257-272.