link to Talbot Project home page link to De Montfort University home page link to Glasgow University home page
Project Director: Professor Larry J Schaaf

Back to the letter search >

Document number: 3934
Date: 17 Sep 1839
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: COLLIS George Richmond
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA39-55
Last updated: 9th August 2016

Sept 17th 1839


I have just received your letter – & it will afford me much pleasure to supply you with the copper plates plated with Silver<1> I can send them in a day or two but you do not say the thickness you require the plates – I send you enclosed under the seal of this letter a piece of metal please say if they should be thicker or thinner than this piece of metal –<2> the expense will be very trifling when finished I should think not more than 2/– to 2/6 each perhaps less – however I will sell[?] them for you at a very trifle more than the cost with respect to the speculums for reflecting Telescopes<3> I have Cast several very good ones after various experiments – I assure you the operation is somewhat tedious & uncertain but I now think if they can be done I can do them – if you can give me any information as to the best mode of building the best Kind of speculum I should be very glad – or if you require me or a large one I should better to try the experiment for you – assuring you that at any time I can be of the least service to you here I shall be very glad – & I hope you will not scruple to send to me. as soon as I hear from you I will put the plate in hand

I am yours very respectfully
GR Collis

H. F. Talbot Esq


1. WHFT's letter not located. The plates were likely for the Daguerreotype process which WHFT was experimenting with in September 1839. See Larry J. Schaaf, ‘September 11’, Records of the Dawn of Photography: Talbot’s Notebooks P & Q (New York and Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), p. 99.

2. The sample has not been located but may be hidden among the masses of metal plates used by WHFT in his photogravure experiments; these are mostly at the National Media Museum in Bradford and in the British Library, London, although a few are scattered in other collections. One candidate is a 10.3 cm. square silvered copper plate, apparently blank but chemically stained, in the Fox Talbot Personal Archive, the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, FT11079.

3. WHFT worked on a particular way of making telescope specula alongside other scientists as Sir Charles Wheatstone (1802–1875), scientist and Prof Carl August von Steinheil (1801–1870) of Munich. See WHFT, ‘On the Improvement of the Telescope’, Report of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, 1842, pt. 2, pp. 16–17.