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Document number: 5978
Date: 20 Jul 1847
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: WERDINSKY Adolphe de
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA47-67
Last updated: 9th March 2012

No 27 University Ters[?] - Gower Street London
20th July 1847

The Count de Werdinsky presents his compts to Mr Talbot & having read in the Newspapers that Mr Talbot has taken out a patent for the employment of Gun Cotton as a motive power, the Count is anxious to communicate with Mr Talbot on the subject; <1> as the Count has purchased the greatest share of a patent, <2> taken out by Sir James Caleb Anderson <3> of Buttevant Castle <4>, as far back as 29th July 1846 & specified on the 29th Xber <5> of the same year, wherein the use of Gun Cotton as motive power, is made the chief priviledge [sic], & the proper way of bringing the invention in general use is now occupying the Count's whole Time & thoughts, as will apper [sic] from the advertis[e]ment headed "Princely Fortune" in Saturdays " Times <6>" part of which the Count begs to transmit for Mr Talbots perusal. <7>

Should Mr Talbot honor the Count with an early reply, some arrangement might be entered into by which Mr Talbot's patent might be amalgamated with that of Sir James Anderson, and the advantages likely to accrue therefrom be participated [sic] by both parties.

Wm Hny Fox Talbot Esqre
Lacock Abbey
Athenĉum Club <8>


1. This was WHFT's patent No. 11475, 'Obtaining and Applying Motive Power' filed on 7 December 1846 and enrolled 7 June 1847. This was an improvement on his 1840 patent, where he used a galvanic spark to ignite flammable liquids - in the later patent he turned to solids, preferring gun cotton over gunpowder for obvious safety reasons. The 'Count' was a fascinating and complex figure who met with some deserving scepticism in the scientific world. See his developing biography at

2. No. 11273, 'Certain Improvements in Obtaining Motive Power, and in Applying it to Propel Carriages and Vessels, and to the Driving of Machinery'.

3. Sir James Caleb Anderson (1792-1861), a celebrated inventor in steam coaching who held several patents.

4. Also known as Barry Castle, near Cork.

5. That is, December (the 10th month of the Roman Calendar).

6. The Times (London).

7. The text is no longer with the letter - on p. 9 of the supplement to the Times of 17 July 1847 was advertised 'PRINCELY FORTUNE - A SHARE in a PATENT, recently specified, and promising to realize enormous wealth to its owners, is OFFERED herewith on most advantageous terms, chiefly with a view to ensure a co-operation in bringing out the magnificent invention, thus patented, in a manner befitting its great and intrinsic value. Address to W.V., care of Mr. Drew Wood, Law Stationer, Basinghall-street, city'.

8. Readdressed in another hand.