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Document number: 6377
Date: 19 Dec 1854
Dating: date from Laroche trial
Recipient: GROVE William Robert
Author: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Collection: Royal Society, London
Last updated: 9th March 2012

Dear Grove

It would of course require mature consideration what steps to take under present circumstances but my impression at present is that I would rather abandon the present action <1> and commence a totally new one against another infringer, and in order to make sure of having another judge <2> I would bring it in another Court – I think perhaps Jurors crotchets <3> are too firmly fixed in his head to be eradicated – After a certain time of life Some people get obstinate – Knowing as we do the line of defence which wd be adopted for I don’t think any other wd turn out more favorable to the Infringer, we could prepare abundant evidence, & having the advantage of having a new mind brought to the subject we might hope so to be able to place the thing clearly before him that he could not go wrong –

Altho’ you think the novelty might again be legally disputed yet I think it would not, first because Reade <4> is their only witness, & he has probably had enough of it, next because they would be sure to fail on that issue & therefore have to pay costs on it. – Therefore I think the inquiry would go at once to the Collodion process, <5> compared with the other: <6> & would not occupy more than one day or day & half. It is not that I want to go on till I succeed, but until I once get the question fairly understood by a judge.

Yours Truly
H. F. Talbot

I really think it would be wiser before discl litigating the matter any more, to disclaim the bad claims by adding “in the manner hereinbefore described” Carpmael <7> says the Atty Genl <8> wd allow ye disclaimer wthout any difficulty/ This [illegible deletion of several words] But if he did not accede do so we should of course not litigate further.


1. Written shortly after the patents trial, Talbot v. Laroche, which took place 18–20 December 1854. As the trial had concerned only matters of fact, and judgement had not yet been given, it remained open to Talbot to ask for a new trial. [See H. J. P. Arnold, William Henry Fox Talbot: Pioneer of Photography and Man of Science (London: Hutchinson Benham, 1977), p. 208.]

2. The judge in Talbot v. Laroche was Sir John Jervis (1802–1856), lord chief justice of the common pleas. He admitted that he did not understand the scientific matter in the case [see Doc. No: 07114].

3. irrational notions, prejudices

4. Rev Joseph Bancroft Reade (1801–1870), microscopist & photographer.

5. The wet collodion on glass negative process was given freely to the public in 1851 by Frederick Scott Archer (1813-1857), a sculptor and photographer. He disclosed the operational details in an 18 February 1851 letter published in The Chemist, n.s. v. 2 no. 19, March 1851, pp. 257-258.

6. The Calotype process.

7. William Carpmael (1804–1867), patent agent & engineer, London.

8. Sir Alexander James Edmund Cockburn (1802–1880), Attorney-General 1852–1856.

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