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Document number: 89
Date: Thu Dec 1854
Dating: see 00464 - date a guess, after 2 Nov, see 07052/06377/07102
Recipient: GROVE William Robert
Author: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Collection: Royal Society, London
Last updated: 29th April 2012

Thursday Morning

Dear Grove

To advert to more genial themes <1> – I should like very much to see your experiment of the Ruhmkorff coil <2> applied to the Leyden jar <3> and with your assistance to apply it to obtain some instantaneous pictures <4> as I did formerly.

A child spinning a tetotum <5> would make a pretty little picture, tho’ I am afraid it would be beyond present means of accomplishment – The tetotum alone taken spinning, with the figures legible would be of itself sufficiently curious. It would require a camera of short form, held pretty near the object.

Whatever be the object two points are essential, First that the Electric spark be very bright –
Secondly, that no second spark shall follow the first immediately. There must be time enough to close the camera before a second spark occurs –

Would there be any difficulty in realising these two conditions?

Yours truly
H. F. Talbot

Lacock Abbey


1. In contrast to matters relating to the patents trial of 18–20 December 1854, in which WHFT found himself having to defend his right to his patents and even his claim to the invention of photography on paper. For an account of the patent cases, and the opposition to WHFT ’s patents, see H J P Arnold, William Henry Fox Talbot; Pioneer of Photography and Man of Science (London: Hutchinson Benham, Ltd, 1977), pp. 198–209.

2. A high-voltage induction coil that could produce sparks 30 cm or more in length, developed by Heinrich Daniel Rümkorff (1803–1877). See, however, Doc. No: 07102.

3. An early capacitor.

4. See Doc. No: 06525 of November 1851.

5. A spinning-top.

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