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Document number: 07089
Date: 10 Dec 1854
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Last updated: 12th July 2010

My dear Sir

I have hardly yet fairly tried the experiment you propose. <1>

I find 3 minutes of direct sunlight forms a beautiful picture of a leaf by Mr Reade’s process <2> when dampish – the completely dry paper I have not yet tried.

I will write again when I have. I will endeavour to make the comparative experiment tomorrow.

My assistant has got on very fairly with your process.<3>

His name is Carl Ewald Ph.D. <4> Will you kindly give his name to your Solicitor, <5> in case he should wish to send him a Subpœna. I have received his letter commanding my own presence. <6>

I am Yours very Truly
Nevil Story Maskelyne.

Ashmolean Museum <7>
Decr 10. 1854.


1. WHFT proposed that he try paper brushed with gallonitrate and used dry, as well as gallonitrate on paper used moist. See Doc. No: 07087.

2. The method proposed by Rev Joseph Bancroft Reade (1801–1870), microscopist & photographer, was gallonitrate on common paper, used moist. See Doc. No: 07059, Doc. No: 07004.

3. The calotype - see Doc. No: 07072 for the plan to run a trial of WHFT’s specification.

4. Nothing further is known at present about Dr Ewald. He was described as a "young foreign Doctor of Philosophy", recently hired, in Vanda Morton, Oxford Rebels, the life and friends of Nevil Story Maskelyne, 1823-1911, pioneer Oxford scientist, photographer and politician (Gloucester: Alan Sutton, 1987), p. 113.

5. John Henry Bolton (1795–1873), solicitor, London.

6. Story-Maskelyne had been asked to be a witness for WHFT in the case of Talbot v. Laroche concerning his patent, in which he sought to prove that the collodion process infringed his the calotype patent (number 8,842, February 1841). The trial took place from Monday 18 to Wednesday 20 December 1854. In 1852 WHFT had thrown open his photographic patents as far as amateur photography was concerned, though he retained them regarding professional portraiture. He won several injunctions against professional portrait photographers, and in 1854 he sought to obtain one against William Henry Silvester, known professionally as Martin Laroche, a portrait photographer who employed the collodion process. He then found himself having to defend his right to his patents and even his claim to the invention of photography on paper.

7. Story-Maskelyne lectured on mineralogy and chemistry at the University of Oxford, and had a laboratory in the lower part of the museum building from 1851–1857.