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Document number: 4880
Date: 20 Sep 1843
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: BURNELL John
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA43-080
Last updated: 8th February 2010

Sept 20th 1843


An idea has occurred to me of an improvement in Photography, and the celebrity your name has acquired in connexion with this art, together with the opinion, which, although an entire stranger to you personally, I have formed of your respectability, induced me to seek a communication with you (in preference to others) upon the subject.

The contemplated improvement relates to the material upon which the image of the object is produced. Besides the usual and more expensive process of a silvered Plate, <1> you have discovered (if I mistake not) a method of preparing Paper suitable for the purpose,<2> now the material I propose to use is far cheaper than the former, and very superior to the latter, in point of durability and other valuable qualities, which seem to render it peculiarly adapted for the intended object, but as I pretend to no scientific knowledge of the subject, & therefore am quite unable to test the accuracy of the theory I have assumed, it remains to be proved by a gentleman like yourself conversant with the matter & to asscertain [sic]how far it is correct; if actual experiment should prove it to be altogether fallacious, and inapplicable to the proposed end, then of course there would be an end of the matter, but if on the other hand the expected improvements should be realized, then I propose to place it in your hands upon terms of mutual advantage to be arranged between us, but before I proceed to disclose any further particulars, or even my name and address, for reasons I shall be able hereafter satisfactorily to explain, I should wish to receive from you an assurance than you are inclined to entertain the matter upon these conditions, which you can at your early convenience address for me to the care of my esteemed friend H Aston Esqr which he will take charge of for

Sir our Obdt Servt
J 131 B. <3>

H. F. Talbot Esqr

address as follows
J 131 B.
care of Henry Aston Esqr
2 New Broad Street


1. The Daguerreotype, which being produced on a smooth metal surface, possessed great detail. The silvered copper sheets were expensive, of course, and were unique images.

2. He is probably refering to photographic prints on paper, which were photogenic drawings, by this time normally printed from Calotype paper negatives.

3. This pseudonym was a combination of his initials and part of his address - see Doc. No: 04882.

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