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Document number: 5805
Date: 15 Dec 1846
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: HENNEMAN Nicolaas
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA46-142
Last updated: 15th August 2016

Patent Talbotype Establishment,

Decbr 15/46


Harison <2> was going to Send you the remainder of the Coppies taken from negatives mended by Mr C: Jones, <3> like wise the negatives of the man & Pump <4> but as I am going to send these things you ordered in a day or two (I am only waiting for the Large cardboard to mount the double ones <5> on – from London) I think it is better to Send them altogether, onless you want them in a hurry then you can write by return of post to that effect I have been trying hard to day to get a good negative of the three graces <6> by the new process <7> but cant get any thing under 2 minutes 20 seconds with the Small camera, middle aperture, and the day fine for thiss time of the year, so the Porportions you give mee can not be right as I find them Slower than those I tried or we tried at Laycock, the fixing with that seems alright I hope to be able to send you som specimen in the first parcel, I have not coppied one yet as it be gon to snow – I am going to Write to Birmingham, about a bookkeeper <8> will let you kno the result as soon as I kno, Shall likewise write to Malone <9> to ask if he knows any one to suite us as I think he could get his hand in it and help mee to make experiments here –

your Obedient Servant
N: Henneman

turn Over

I think it would well be worth your wile when you go to London to ask Murray (at Newmans) <10> if he could get us the Servises of that young man that is in Germany and who is so skillful in The Talbotype<11> from wath I have heard of him I think he would be verry happy to be engaged in the a buisenes in England of thiss kind – for I am certain if wee take good Portraits the buisenes is sure to answer and he has done finer things I have yet seen and that’s two years ago


1. Nicolaas Henneman (1813–1898), born in Holland and trained in Paris, was WHFT’s valet who emerged as his assistant in photography. Henneman set up his Calotype works at 8 Russell Terrace, Reading. Commencing operations at the start of 1844, it functioned both as a photographic studio and as a photographic printing works and continued through late 1846, at which time Henneman transferred his operations to London. Although Talbot supported Henneman through custom, such as printing the plates for The Pencil of Nature, and loans, it was always Henneman's operation. His business cards made no mention of 'The Reading Establishment,' the designation that it is popularly given today; the only contemporary use of that title seemed to be introduced by Benjamin Cowderoy - see Doc. No: 05690. Henneman nor WHFT ever employed it in their correspondence.

2. David Harrison.

3. Rev Calvert Richard Jones (1802–1877), Welsh painter & photographer. ‘Mending’ was the process of retouching, something WHFT avoided, but a strong temptation for an artist like the Rev Calvert R Jones.

4. This is possibly an image by Jones but is more in the style of his sometimes companion, the Rev George R Bridges. It is illustrated (as a WHFT image, which it is not) in John Ward and Sara Stevenson, Printed Light: The Scientific Art of William Henry Fox Talbot and David Octavius Hill with Robert Adamson (Edinburgh: Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 1986), figure 69. Schaaf 2917.

5. This is most likely a reference to ‘joiners’, panoramic views created by Calvert Jones by splicing up two or more prints. See ‘An Extension of Vision’ in Larry J. Schaaf, Sun Pictures Catalogue Five: The Reverend Calvert R. Jones (New York: Hans P. Kraus, Jr, 1990), pp. 38–43; an additional pair of negatives is illustrated pp. 68–69.

6. There are many WHFT (or Henneman?) negatives of this statuette of Antonio Canova's masterpiece, inspired by the 1819 copy ordered by the 6th Duke of Bedford for his Woburn house. One is illustrated in Hubertus von Amelunxen, Die Aufgehobene Zeit; Die Erfindung der Photgraphie durch William Henry Fox Talbot (Berlin: Nishen, 1988), plate 99, Schaaf 1843. Henneman can be seen photographing the Three Graces in the famous panoramic view of his establishment at Reading; the original negatives for this are illustrated nearly full size in Pam Roberts, The Royal Photographic Society Collection (Bath: The Royal Photographic Society, 1994), pp. 14–15; Schaaf 1595/1596.

7. WHFT was always devising ‘new’ processes. On 10th December 1846 he jotted down an incomplete note about a silver iodide based paper with acetic acid, held before the flame of a candle – he did not complete the phrase ‘brought out with’ (that is, developed with) – NMeM, Bradford. On 18 December he returned to this experiment, finding that ‘2 or 3 seconds at a wax candle produced an image’ – this was intensified by repeated washes of a silver nitrate solution, blotted, then warmed at a fire. Fox Talbot Collection, the British Library, LA46-144.

8. WHFT was anxious to replace Harrison, whom he considered unsatisfactory, but this candidate did not prove promising - see Doc. No: 05808.

9. Thomas Augustine Malone (1823-1867), chemist, partner with Nicolaas Henneman, photographer.

10. Robert Murray (1798–1857), Irish instrument maker, based in London at John Newman; from 1855 photographic partner with Vernon Heath. He apprenticed in 1812 to John Newman, Philosophical Instrument Maker and remained there for 43 years, moving on in 1855 to start a photographic business with Vernon Heath, Murray & Heath at 43 Piccadilly.

11. This reference must have been to Friedrich Carl Vogel (1806-1865), also Fritz Vogel and, erroneously, Carl Friedrich Vogel; Frankfurt lithographer who took up Daguerreotypy in 1839 and later turned to the Calotype; bankrupted in 1843, he opened a Talbotype studio in Milan in 1850. See Doc. No: 05252; Doc. No: 06185; Doc. No: 06406; Doc. No: 06452 .