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Document number: 04500
Date: 06 May 1842
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: COLLEN Henry
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA42-29
Last updated: 30th April 2010

29 Somerset Street <1>

May 6. 1842.

Dear Sir

Hoping that you would be in town and that conversation for a short time would be better than long letter writing, for which I have

but very little leisure, I have postponed answering your last note, <2> but take the present opportunity of doing so. When I offerred [sic] to guarantee only about 3 portraits a day, it was an offer only, and it remained for you to remark upon it, and agree to it, or not, according as it met your views; it was however not a very bad offer for as I am very credibly informed it was a full third of the number, for which Mr Beard <3> recd cash during the last year; and as it did not include a preventive of my doing ten times as much, it was I think worth consideration, but you have never noticed it until now; the loss of time which I mentioned, I have no doubt might have been saved, if you had placed me in the position I wished, by enabling me to obtain the means of greatly extending my operations, and which, as I have several times mentioned to you, I could have obtained from friends who were willing to assist me, if I had succeeded in convincing you of the advantage of complying with my desire.

Your treaty with Mr Beard is a proof of the justice of the arguments used by those friends who dissuaded me from speculating more largely on Calotype portraiture, for the greater my success, and the larger my number of portraits, the stronger his inclination would naturally be, to become my rival, you will however not perhaps object to let me know the state of your negociation with him, in order that I may determine my course, as, in case you have broken off with him, I should be induced to make a much greater effort, but if I am to expect him as a competitor in Calotype I shall of course be extremely cautious in entering into expenditure.

I believe I can do all with the Calotype process which it is capable of, as relates to portraiture, for with the disadvantage of my situation I obtained this morning in little more than half a minute, a more than sufficiently strong calotype, well marked, and perfectly clean, so that under more favorable circumstances I make no doubt of being able to make good portraits in 10 or 15 seconds. I shall be obliged if you will inform me of the proportion of salt to water for the photographic paper; I have mentioned this once or twice before, but you have always forgotten to answer it,<4> I do not think that which I use is quite right also if you shall be in town and when, perhaps you will make it convenient to call here towards the afternoon, as it is difficult for me to leave home during the day, and you will be able to see what I have done &c &c

I remain Dear Sir
Yours very Truly

Henry Collen

Henry Fox Talbot Esq F.R.S.
&c &c

Lacock Abbey


1. London.

2. Probably Doc. No: 06739.

3. Richard Beard (18011885), coal merchant & daguerreotypist, London.

4. WHFT responded immediately with exact proportions - See Doc. No: 06758.