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Document number: 08342
Date: 19 Mar 1861
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: PRETSCH Paul
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA61-47
Last updated: 13th July 2010

3, Guildford Place, Russel Square
March 19th 1861


I suppose you are aware that I have been kept in suspence <1> since several years, and therefore you will not consider it presumptuous of me, if I state that only real inclination to this branch of art induced me to devote so many years of labour and thought without any remuneration.

However I have found now a few gentlemen <2> who are favourable disposed to carry out practically this branch of the printing arts. But they are - like myself - desirous to prevent any disagreable litigation, and consequently we request respectfully your cooperation, so far as you are willingly to favour us with it. Your demand of 3 percent from the returns would be such a heavy load to the young business, that no prudent man would be bold enough to begin with it. Therefore pray to modify your demand, and to favour us with a decision as soon as possible.

I make this appeal to you, supposing that you yourself possess sufficient love for this branch of art, and consequently are especially able to appreciate such works. Permit me also to observe, that for the above mentioned reasons - any longer delay is injurious to me, and I cannot believe that you intentionally are inclined to injure me.

I would like very much to show you personally some of my printed specimens, and some of my printing plates and printing blocks, - and also to explain to you the principle of my process, which is quite different to yours. - Before I have brought out my new process for the letterpress, <3> I have offered the same to you through the instrumentality of your solicitor. <4> But it seems, that he was not capable to convey to you in the proper mode the peculiarity of this process. It is not a transformation of an intaglio printing plate into a block for surface printing, - this would never answer the purpose - but a process independent from the first. However all those explanations can only be done in a personal interview, <5> and if you cannot favour me with it immediately, - still I flatter myself, it could be done in future, because I have very much to explain to you.

In the agreable hopes of your reply by return of post, permit me to remain

Sir Your very obedt. servt
Paul Pretsch

Henry Fox Talbot Esq.


1. In 1854 Pretsch had patented a process for photographic engraving - Producing Copper and Other Plates for Printing, No. 2373 of 9 November 1854. He took out a second patent on 11 August 1855: Application of Certain Designs Obtained on Metallic Surfaces by Photographic and Other Agencies, No. 1824. Talbot, however, claimed that the patents infringed his own [ Improvements in Photographic Engraving, No. 565 of October 1852] insofar as Pretsch's too used gelatine and potassium bichromate. Although Pretsch was not prepared to accept that his method was derived from that of Talbot, he did discuss taking out a licence from Talbot, but it proved impossible to agree upon the terms.

2. There was a proposal to set up a company with Joseph Hogarth (b. 1802), London printseller, and others [see Doc. No: 08413].

3. Pretsch had been working on a method of producing plates for typographic rather than intaglio printing - see Doc. No: 08374. [See H. J. P. Arnold, William Henry Fox Talbot: Pioneer of Photography and Man of Science (London: Hutchinson Benham, 1977), pp. 289-290].

4. John Henry Bolton (1795-1873), solicitor, London.

5. Talbot had been refusing to meet Pretsch - see Doc. No: 08329.