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Document number: 6519
Date: 21 Nov 1851
Recipient: LEVESON-GOWER Granville George
Author: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA51-85 & LA51-86
Last updated: 10th August 2010

Ld Granville

Nov 21 / 51

My Ld

I am sorry to trouble yr Ldship by requestg a persl interview, but ye leadg & distgshd pt wch y have takn in ye Gt Exhn renders it natl for me to appeal to your Ldship's good sense & upright character against certn proceedings of the Exve Comtee -

Altho' I am most ready to lay before yr Ldship a full statemt of all ye circs, I will not trouble y wh ym on in ye prest occasion letter, wch will be chfly confined to 1 point namely what occurred last Monday - I will merely state that I am ye patentee of the art of photogy upon paper wch some call the Ctype and others the Ttype on which inventn many 1000 pds hve been expended - that towards ye close of ye su summer, the Exve Comee applied to me for the gratuitous use of the patent, for making [illegible deletion] views in the Crystal palace, on the ground that they wished to make a grand photogrc work, and distribute gratuitously to foreign govnts & to several distgd indivls a grand work on the Crysl Exhn illustd by photc plates. Altho' it appears hard, that when an opportunity at length offered of recoving some part of the my great outlay upon this inventn, by the undertakg of a great natl work I shd be requested to # I nevertheless acquiesced in the proposal, and released my Licensee Mr Hennn of Regt St from the paymt of any royalty to me in this matter, to enable him to undertake this work at a lower price for the Exve Comtee - He accordly had 200 views made in ye Crystal palace, & has recd paymt of them fm the Exve Ctee - The paymt sum he received he informs me covering his expenses witht leaving him any more than a tflg profit or remuntn for his loss of time, & neglect of his own business conseqt upon this undertakg - But this he expected - What he looked to as his source of remuneratn was ye making of the copies from these views, of wch
# give the use of it gratuitously,
not less than nearly 2,000 will be required for the Work. - The Exve Comtee offered him in a letter dated 29 Septr half-a-crown the contract to make these copies at the rate of 2/6 per copy, giving a total of more than 2000 - He accepted this offer, [illegible deletion] but at ye same time refused another offer concerning another matter in the same letter of the Exve Comtee. Upon this the Exve Ctee withdrew their offer. Matters remained in this state for some time, when we ascertained that the Exve Ctee were going to [illegible deletion] have ye copies [illegible deletion] executed in France, and import them into England, in defi open infringt of the patent right, and to the injury of my licsees - Remonstces were sent to them privately thro' Dr Lyon Playfair, & Mr Scott Russell but ye latter gentn was unfortly gone to BerlinxA - We were in hopes that on reflection, seeing the illegality of their proceedg, they wd have desisted fm it but last week we were told they had actually signed a contract, with Mr Robert Bingham to execute the work in France. -

After this brief statement I now come to ye pt to wch I beg yr Ldship's attentn - On learning ye above intellgce my Solicr & myself proceeded on last Monday to ye Crystl palce and requested an interview wh Mr Cole & Mr Dilke. Those gentn were recd us, and after [illegible deletion] in ansr to our enquiry stated that they were ye only members of ye Exve Ctee remaining in activy Col Reid hvg gone to Malta - so that we understood and believed that we were then conversing wth ye whole Commee

After a shrt conversatn in wch we requested ym to desist from this proceedg, as an infgnt of a n Engsh patt right, these gentn said, that as matters then stood and as they had gone so far, as to and sign a contract wth Mr Bingham it would be far better to compromise the matter. And they asked me to name my terms, and what I shd consider [illegible deletion] a sufft satisfactn for ye injury done to my licensee Mr Hennn by their having ye copies executed abroad - In reply I stated as before that I wished for no had disclaimed any pecuniary benefit from this undertaking, but that I wd accept as an equivalent compensatn a certain No of copies of ye photgrc part of the work itself (wch I moreover engaged to give away & not to sell) and that on receiving them I wd myself make a prest of 200 to Mr Henn as a partl indemnity for ye [illegible] done to him by the Comtee - his disappt thus actually taking on myself some of the responsiby of ye Ctee - This offer Mr C. & Mr D. accepted, and ye no of copies was fixed at fifteen. They then pressed me to put the contract in writing, & let them have it the same day (Monday) - I replied I wd send it, as soon as I could I accordy posted a letter on My Evg containing these terms carefully and accurately stated, and they of course recd ye letter on Tuesdy morning. I considered the matter finished settled finished except ye mere formality of a reply fm the Comtee - On Tuesday & Wedy I heard notg from the Ctee - But on Thursday I recd a letter from them repudiating the contract -

I leave it to yr Ldship's nice sense of honour to draw yr own conclusions.

I will only add that my Solr was present during ye interview, that he is ready to will bear witness that my letter to ye Ctee contains truly and accurately the same offer wch they had accepted, and that he considered me, after ye interview to be bound in honour not to deviate fm ye terms agreed upon, Conseqly that the other gentn of ye Exve Ctee were equally bound in honour, otherwise there wd be no security means at all left for ye arrangt of ye difficulties or disputes wch must sometimes occur, in ye settlt of matters of imprtce

If yr Ldship shd thk a persl invw unnecssry I can send y a copy of my lettr of Monday last to ye Ctee & their reply - and if y wish for ye corroborve evidce of my Solr he wd be happy to give it.

Apologising for ye length of my letter, wch I cd not make shorter, allow me to sub myself

xA. and if we did not then appeal to yr Ldship, I can assure you it was because we were unwilling to trouble y. wthout evident necessity,

[expanded version]

Lord Granville

November 21, 1851

My Lord

I am sorry to trouble your Lordship by requesting a personal interview, but the leading and distinguished part which you have taken in the Great Exhibition renders it natural for me to appeal to your Lordship's good sense and upright character against certain proceedings of the Executive Committee -

Although I am most ready to lay before your Lordship a full statement of all the circumstances, I will not trouble you with them on in the present occasion letter, which will be chiefly confined to one point namely what occurred last Monday - I will merely state that I am the patentee of the art of photography upon paper which some call the Calotype and others the Talbotype <1> on which invention many thousands of pounds have been expended - that towards the close of the su summer, the Executive Committee applied to me for the gratuitous use of the patent, for making views in the [illegible deletion] Crystal palace, on the ground that they wished to make a grand photographic work, and distribute gratuitously to foreign governments and to several distinguised individuals a grand work on the Crystal Palace Exhibition illustrated by photographic plates. Although it appears hard, that when an opportunity at length offered of recovering some part of the my great outlay upon this invention, by the undertaking of a great national work, I should be requested to give the use of it gratuitously, I nevertheless acquiesced in the proposal, and released my Licensee Mr Henneman of Regent Street <2> from the payment of any royalty to me in this matter, to enable him to undertake this work at a lower price for the Executive Committee - He accordingly had two-hundred views made in the Crystal palace, and has received payment of them from the Executive Committee - The payment sum he received he informs me covering his expenses without leaving him any more than a trifling profit or remuneration for his loss of time, and neglect of his own business consequent upon this undertaking - But this he expected - What he looked to as his source of remuneration was the making of the copies from these views, of which not less than nearly two-thousand will be required for the Work. - The Executive Committee offered him in a letter dated 29 September half-a-crown the contract to make these copies at the rate of two shillings six pence per copy, giving a total of more than 2000 - He accepted this offer, [illegible deletion] but at the same time refused another offer concerning another matter in the same letter of the Executive Committee. Upon this the Executive Committee withdrew their offer. Matters remained in this state for some time, when we ascertained that the Executive Committee were going to have the copies executed in France, and import them into England, in defiance open infringement of the patent right, and to the injury of my licencees - Remonstrances were sent to them privately through Dr Lyon Playfair, and Mr Scott Russell <3> but the latter gentleman was unfortunately gone to Berlin and if we did not then appeal to your Lordship, I can assure you it was because we were unwilling to trouble you without evident necessity. - We were in hopes that on reflection, seeing the illegality of their proceeding, they would have desisted from it but last week we were told they had actually signed a contract, with Mr Robert Bingham <4> to execute the work in France. -

After this brief statement I now come to the point which I beg your Lordship's attention - On learning the above intelligence my Solicitor and myself proceeded on last Monday to the Crystal Palace and requested an interview with Mr Cole and Mr Dilke. <5> Those gentlemen were received us, and after [illegible deletion] in answer to our enquiry stated that they were the only members of the Executive Committee remaining in activity, Colonel Reid <6> having gone to Malta - so that we understood and believed that we were then conversing with the whole Committee.

After a short conversation in which we requested them to desist from this proceeding, as an infringement of a n English patent right, these gentlemen said, that as matters then stood and as they had gone so far, as to and sign a contract with Mr Bingham it would be far better to compromise the matter. And they asked me to name my terms, and what I should consider [illegible deletion] a sufficient satisfaction for the injury done to my licensee Mr Henneman by their having thecopies executed abroad - In reply I stated as before that I wished for no had disclaimed any pecuniary benefit from this undertaking, but that I would accept as an equivalent compensation a certain Number of copies of the photographic part of the work itself (which I moreover engaged to give away and not to sell) and that on receiving them I would myself make a present of two-hundred pounds to Mr Henneman as a partial indemnity for the [illegible] done to him by the Commitee - his disappointment thus actually taking on myself some of the responsibility of the Committee - This offer Mr Cole and Mr Dilke accepted, and the number of copies was fixed at fifteen. They then pressed me to put the contract in writing, and let them have it the same day (Monday) - I replied I would send it, as soon as I could I accordingly posted a letter on Monday Evening containing these terms carefully and accurately stated, and they of course received the letter on Tuesday morning. I considered the matter finished settled finished except the mere formality of a reply from the Committee - On Tuesday and Wednesday I heard nothing from the Committee - But on Thursday I received a letter from them repudiating the contract -

I leave it to your Lordship's nice sense of honour to draw your own conclusions.

I will only add that my Solicitor was present during the interview, that he is ready to will bear witness that my letter to the Committee contains truly and accurately the same offer which they had accepted, and that he considered me, after the interview to be bound in honour not to deviate from the terms agreed upon, Consequently that the other gentlemen of the Executive Committee were equally bound in honour, otherwise there would be no security means at all left for the arrangement of the difficulties or disputes which must sometimes occur, in the settlement of matters of importance

If your Lordship should think a personal interview unnecessary I can send you a copy of my letter of Monday last to the Committee and their reply - and if you wish for the Collaborative evidenceof my Solicitor he would be happy to give it.

Apologising for the length of my letter, which I could not make shorter, allow me to submit myself


Notes:

1. Although many of his family and friends wanted to honour the inventor's name, WHFT modestly preferred the original term of calotype.

2. Nicolaas Henneman (1813-1898), Dutch, active in England; WHFT's valet, then assistant; photographer.

3. Sir Hugh Lyon Playfair (1786-1861), military & provost of St Andrew's University, and Prof John Scott Russell (1808-1882), Scottish engineer; Secretary, Royal Commission of 1851.

4. Robert Jefferson Bingham (1825-1870), English born author and photographer, mostly active in France, who was the premier reproduction photographer of his day. The photographs were eventually published in Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, 1851: Reports by the Juries. Four volumes, illustrated by original photographic prints from negatives by Hugh Owen and Claude Marie Ferrier. In the copies given to WHFT, a dedicatory sheet was inserted (most likely printed up by him): 'This Work, on the Results of the Great Exhibition of 1851, Illustrated with Photographic Plates, being One of Fifteen Copies Given by the Royal Commissioners to H.F. Talbot, Esq. of Lacock Abbey, as The Inventor of this Branch of the Photographic Art, was by him presented to _____'. This publication caused WHFT considerable consternation at the time, for he felt that the Commissioners had stealthily and unfairly taken the job of printing the plates away from Nicolaas Henneman. For a summary of this complex situation, see Nancy B Keeler, 'Illustrating the "Reports by the Juries" of the Great Exhibition of 1851; Talbot, Henneman, and Their Failed Commission,' History of Photography, v. 6 no. 3, July 1982, pp. 257-272.

5. Sir Henry Cole (1808-1882), civil servant, artist & Director of the South Kensington Museum, and Sir Charles Wentworth Dilke (1810-1869), MP & Commissioner.

6. Sir William Reid (1791-1858), military man and scientist.

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