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Document number: 5792
Date: 09 Dec 1846
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: HAIGHT Richard Kip
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA46-135
Last updated: 20th October 2013

Geneva Decemr – 9 / 46

Fox Talbot Esq
Lacock Abbey Chippenham

Dr Sir

Mr Anthony <1> has communicated to me your two notes (18th Nor & 1st Der) with his replies to the same; asking my advice to him in the matter in negociation between you. This I do the more cheerfully, as I am persuaded that the few lines I shall note give him for you cannot fail to do away with any “mis apprehensions” on either part of you two gentlemen.

Your first note to Mr A is on the subject of the pecuniary consideration for the right of selling your discovery in the United States &c &c –. Of this branch of the subject I have no means of forming any just estimate, and must therefore leave that entirely to yourselves. All I can Know in the matter is from what I have allready Seen, from the beautifull specimens you had the Kindness to send me to America last summer & those few wh I now have in my possession – The former were the admiration & wonder of thousands in the U States to whom they were shown; and my desire to see your great discovery spread not only over Europe but my own country also was the sole incentive to me to interest myself at first in the matter, & secondly to assist & encourage the very worthy & talented you [sic] gentleman whom I took the liberty of introducing to your acquaintance. It appears to me & must be evident to your self that no person not innitiated in the mysteries of the art, can form any estimate of the commercial value the same; and it is in this latter light (independent of his love of Science) that Mr Anthony has now to view the Subject.

In your note of 1st December you seem to think that Mr Anthony is under a “mis apprehension” as to the instruction & practice of your agent at Reading <2> in cases of persons desiring to be inniated in the art here alluded to.

On this point Mr A was fully informed by me before he left home as I had previously learned from Mr Gliddon <3> that in cases of gentleman amateurs desiring to learn this art solely for their own amusement, that you had nobly instructed your agent to make known to them the details upon their assurance that your pecuniary interest was sacred in their cases. – Nothing would have been more simple than for Mr A to have approached this affair first as an amateur of the above category & then if he found, after the innitiation, that there was in it (the art) a commercial value of importance to himself he then would have been prepared to open & conclude immediately a negociation with you by which the interests of both parties would have been secured. But Mr A came to your agent in a straight forward bussiness way, declaring at once his intentions & wishes, & advising your agent of the prudence of the policy of immediately securing your rights in America by entering a caveat (wh costs nothing) thus securing yourself for a few months until you decided to take out a patent either on your own account or that of some person purchasing of you the said right. –

No progress seeing yet to have been made by you two gentlemen in this negociation up to this time; and unless you, dear Sir, shall be able to relieve your self of all “mis apprehensions” as to Mr Anthony’s views in regard to this matter; I fear you will neither of you succeed in that which you both desire, which is a successful issue to this matter as regard introducing it into America, and also that a fair & honourable understanding & a secure arrangement of each one’s pecuniary interests. It seems, therefore, to me that a few words on my part may be the means of putting at rest all anxiety on your part as to any risk your interest might be subject by making reposing any confidence in Mr Anthony in this matter. I would beg leave, dear Sir, here to make one Remark, which is that if I supposed that you entertained, for one moment, feeling of méfiance towards Mr Anthony, a gentleman whom I have taken the responsibility to introduce & recommend to you as one worthy of all confidence, apart from his being a family connection of mine, & a gentleman of accomplished education & great personal worth, I should be forced feel a portion of that mèfeance as attaching to myself, and of course, would of necesity retire at once form all interference in the matter; but I feel convinced that it is but a mis apprehension, or the want of a perfect comprehension on your part of Mr Anthonys views of the subject; which to me appear to be of the most clear & business like that possibly can be; & it is only the exercise of that prudence on his part, which is so laudable in a young business man, that makes him so cautious to avoid any thing that looks like a Speculation by which his first hard earnings might be jeopardised. – Mr Anthony says that he has explained to you (or to your agent) how impossible it is for him, or any one, to form any estimate of what might be the commercial value of your discovery & invention, without first knowing all the process – It might be so complicated & requiring so much science, skill & labour in the practice of it as to put it beyond the reach of ordinary capacities to utilise it as an object of commercial or rather of professional profit. Once Mr A fully acquainted with all the merits & demerits (if any of the latter) his mind could be made up at once on the subject, & he would be prepared to make any pecuniary arrangement that would be conducive of your mutual interests. The whole matter can be now resolved in a few words, which I will here state.

To conclude then – You, Sir, have the honor of having made a great & beautiful discovery; yet from which you would desire, not so much to avail of as a matter of pecuniary profit as to cover the considerable expenses you must have been put to in experimenting &c to bring it to perfection. –

Mr Anthony is desiring of assisting to spread your fame in the New World & at that same time that he could further his own interest, is more than willing that your portion of any profit to be gained by the same in America should be forth-coming to you yet at the same time (as I before stated) must of necesity – (on account of his limited means) move cautiously. –

Now, Sir, this is what I now have to say to you as an assurance that your interest is not only safe with Mr Anthony; but that you could find few persons from our Country who have it so much in their power to carry out your views fully in America as has Mr A

If I were permitted to suggest a mode by which you both may come to an immediate understanding as to the preliminary mode of proceeding to give Mr Anthony the only data by which he can form a commercial estimate of the art it would be this – First to make yourself certain that your ultimate interest would not be compromised by any disclosures or instructing to Mr A in case you did not afterwards come to any arrangement Secondly – To give him every possible facility & instruction in each & every branch of the subject, & then Mr Anthony after making his calculating could make any difinite arrangement you could both agree upon, and for the complete fullfilment of which on his part he is prepared to give you every or any sort of guaranty you might require. –

In order to put at rest any scruples you yet might entertain about confiding to Mr A any valuable secrets. I now hereby hold myself personaly & pecuniaryly responsible to you for the amount & value of all or any detriment your pecuniary interest might sustain by any act or acts of Mr Anthony after your confidential communications to him. Also that in case you should come to any bussiness arrangement afterwards the American Patents might, if you desire it, stand in my name, subject at all times to your its reversion to yourself again in case of any of Mr Anthonys stipulations with you not being fullfilled to the letter, and myself being no longer able to reply for him to you, on account of decease or other wise – &c for it in any way you might desire, provided allways the stipulations were of the usual bussiness nature, & not implying my want of confidence either by yourself or me in the honor & integrity or pavois faire of Mr Anthony. – Not having the pleasure or advantage of a personal acquaintance, Sir, with yourself, and perhaps there may be on your part a total absence of all knowledge of what value or security to you might be my name (& signature) confirming Mr Anthony’s engagements with you; you have only to make a personal application to Mess Barings, Bro & Co of London, who can put you right on that same. –

In a day or two I am to leave here to conduct my family to Rome where after having established them for a year (for the improvet of my daughter in painting) I shall return to New York via France & England, when I hope to have the pleasure of making your personal acquaintance, & learning what arrangements, if any, you may have made with Mr Anthony.

In the mean time permit me Sir to give you the assurance of the my respect & esteem & to [illegible] myself

Your hno Obt Srt
R K Haight

P. S. I might perhaps not be irreverant here to state to you that I would not have you suppose that I have any personal pecuniary motive of my own to serve in this affair, but merely that of furthering Science, & endeavoring at the same time to encourage & sustain a personal friend & a worthy young gentleman –

[illeg valediction]

[address panel:]
Fox Talbot Esq
Lacock Abbey

(favr Mr E Anthony)


1. Edward Anthony (1819 -1888), New York; photographer & merchant.

2. The Photographic Establishment at Reading of Nicolaas Henneman (1813-1898), Dutch, active in England; WHFT's valet, then assistant; photographer. It is likely that Haight was referring to WHFT's new agent, Benjamin Thomas Cowderoy (1812-1904), land agent in Reading; man of science; business manager for WHFT; later a politician in Australia.

3. WHFT was keen on applying photography to reproduction of both images and text and freely gave his permission to the Devonshire-born George Robbins Gliddon (1809-1857), an Egyptologist and American diplomat to use photography. He had Nicolaas Henneman produce prints for The Talbotype Applied to Hieroglyphics (Reading: 1846), comprising three photographs of hieroglyphs and his text. See Ricardo A. Caminos, "The Talbotype Applied to Hieroglyphics," Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, v. 52, 1966, pp. 65-70 and Plates XIII-XV. The ink ‘originals’ and accompanying loose prints are in the Talbot Collection of the National Media Museum, Bradford, and at the time Camino thought these were unique survivors; the copy in the British Library was lost to the Blitz. However, several other copies have been subsequently discovered. Three are in the Richard Lepsius collection in the State Library of Berlin. Gliddon dedicated one copy to Lepsius on 18 August 1846 and another (undated) to Joseph Bonomi; the third is not inscribed. On 18 August 1846, Gliddon dedicated a copy to the French Egyptologist Émile Prisse d’Avennes (1807-1879); it is bound into v. 219 of his diaries in the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris. A single plate is preserved in the Library Company of Philadelphia in the collection of Samuel Morton (1819-1850), a craniologist and ethnologist. On 17 June 1846, Gliddon wrote to Morton about Talbot’s new invention, enthusing that “if you introduced the Talbotype at Philadelphia, you need no longer employ an Artist in Skull-drawing, but save great expense and ensure supernatural accuracy in your Plates. Tis worth your consideration; for you can multiply ‘ad infinitum,’ at the mere cost of iodized paper.”

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