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Document number: 05640
Date: 30 Apr 1846
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: COWDEROY Benjamin Thomas
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA46-55
Collection 2: Private
Collection 2 number: [envelope only]
Last updated: 13th July 2017

Reading April 30th 1846

Dr Sir /

I should have written you Tuesday Evening but I was obliged to meet Mr Sergt. Talfourd and other Gentlemen preparatory to the annual Meeting of our Institution which was held in the Evening and on which occasion I resigned my Secretaryship finding it interfered too much with business.<1>

I have again talked matters over with Henneman<2> who has been giving me evidences of the disasters and casualties (– certainly not trifling) which are to be set off against his profit on the pictures. He complains of his present position, having engaged Harrison<3> and two lads in the expectation that we were about to make a considerable Stock. However, without troubling you with his grievances, the following he submits and seems very firm and decided against any modification of the terms – vizt – If he continues to make the pictures and supply them at the present rates he requires that he shall not make less than an average of 400 weekly during the year – that when engaged in taking negatives he shall be paid 10/- per day and travelling expenses including 5/- per day towards tavern bills – Or secondly – If he is to be paid by Salary he asks for £150 per Annum and 10 pr Cent on Net profits of the business – or if you prefer it – instead of the per Centage – 1/- per hundred sheets of good positives and 1/- for each good negative which you approve. Travelling expenses and 5/- towards Tavern bills when from home. The Rent and taxes to be paid by you as well as all other expenses of the business and he will occupy the house if you wish it paying you £15 per annum as Rent. His present Stock of fittings, Apparatus, Chemicals &c to be paid for by you. He also requires that he shall have an engagement for 2 years, teaching whom you please a general knowledge of the Art, but if he is required to reveal everything he knows, he then asks for a three years engagement. If neither of these proposals are acceded to he expresses his intention of leaving but offers before doing so to teach anyone you may require for £10.

You misunderstood him in supposing that he had any objection to my supervision of his Establishment. His vexation was the result of your determination to limit the making of positives. I hope we shall come to some conclusion which will retain Henneman as I foresee a great difficulty uncertainty of meeting with another person so suitable in all aspects. I therefore wait your reply.

I was in Town Yesterday with the various printsellers. Ackerman<4> was out of Town, but I had an interview with his Manager with whom I left a few specimens and who has promised to write me with Mr A’s determination. I opened Accounts with two Houses – Gardner in Regent Street<5> and Gibbs in Titchbourne Street.<6> I also obtained information to guide me in selecting two or three good houses in the City with whom I hope to conclude arrangements the next time I am in Town. Ackerman in Regent Street declined on the ground of having no room for the pictures. He is certainly very full but I could see that the main reason was that Brooks had the precedence.<7> I have received the Stamp from Brooks who asks for more Trees and Maltese Views – shall I supply him?

I have sent to Tarrant the 500 for the Art Union. <8>

Am I to consider that your mind is perfectly made up not to give instructions? as I have the question repeatedly put to me and think a score of learners would be found in less than a month.

I perfectly understand your intention in reference to the extent of the experiment. We should open Accounts in some 20 good Towns as well as with the London houses in order to make the trial a fair one. I go tomorrow to Oxford and Cheltenham and we can then decide on the other Towns to be taken I have given a small Stock to each of the two principal Houses here As to the absolute purchase of pictures as suggested in your last, Gambart<9> will not buy them. He makes a principle of having nothing of his own, lest he should be thought partial in his efforts to do business

I have the letter from Bath – If the writer applies to me I will see if he can make a Journey answer I think it would be a good place to open two or three Accounts.

Yrs very obedly
B. Cowderoy

H F Talbot Esq

[envelope - in a private collection:]
H Fox Talbot Esq
Lacock Abbey
[annotated in WHFT's hand:]


1. Sir Thomas Noon Talfourd (1795-1854), MP, serjeant-at-law and author. The Reading Literary & Scientific Institution.

2. Nicolaas Henneman (1813-1898), Dutch, active in England; WHFT's valet, then assistant; photographer; opened calotype printing studio in Reading in 1843 and transferred to London in 1848.

3. David Harrison, sometime assistant to Nicolaas Henneman in London.

4. Rudolph Ackerman, purveyor of books, prints and artist’s supplies; 191 Regent St, London.

5. Probably James Gardner, mapseller, 129, Regent St, London.

6. Henry Gibbs, printseller, 18 Tichborne St, Haymarket, London.

7. Henry Brooks, publisher, stationer and printseller at 87, New Bond St, London. He had both a dedicated Talbotype stamp and also an elaborate chromolithographed label that he applied to the photographs.

8. The Art-Union Monthly Journal of the Fine Arts and the Arts, Decorative, Ornamental (launched in 1839, the same year as photography) was a lavishly illustrated journal that included many demonstration pieces. Hall originally estimated that he would need 4000 or 5000 prints, but in the end 7000 were required. An original mounted Talbotype was bound in each copy of the June 1846 Art-Union, v. 8 no. 91, facing p. 143. Since each print had to spend some time in the sun under the negative, Henneman pressed every available negative into service, leading to a great variety in different copies of the journal. Hall must have heard from some skeptical artists, for he felt compelled to explain in the next issue that the prints 'were taken from the actual objects they represent; they were, strictly, copies from NATURE; in no case had a print been made use of for the purpose of transfer' - 'The Application of the Talbotype', The Art-Union, July 1846, p. 195. The final effect of this effort was costly to WHFT, both in out of pocket expenses and in reputation. The production of so many prints in such a short time span with the approach of winter suffered from a paucity of sunshine and Henneman's inability to supply (and afford) sufficient warm water for adequate washing. Many of the prints began fading almost straight away, and this fiasco was one of the factors that led WHFT to abandon printing with silver in favour of his photographic engraving and later photoglyphic engraving, both expressed through time-tested printer's ink.

9. Ernest Gambart (1814-1902), Belgian printseller & publisher, active in London.