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Document number: 4740
Date: 27 Feb 1843
Recipient: HARRIS William Snow
Author: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Collection: National Library of Wales Aberystwyth
Collection number: MS 21557D
Last updated: 3rd February 2017

Lacock Abbey,
27 Feby 1843

Dear Sir

However willing I might be to give to yourself & friends the free use of the Calotype for purposes of science, I am not prepared to say that I could do the same in the instance to which your letter refers – the intention being (if I understand you) to prepare Calotype drawings for an extensive work, which are to be afterwards engraved & published. Now this was one of the chief objects contemplated, when I went to the expense of procuring a patent, viz. that it would be applied to the illustration of works requiring great fidelity & accuracy of drawing. By the way, will you allow me to ask why your friend proposes to go to the great expense of having the drawings engraved, when the process itself is capable of furnishing an unlimited number of copies, all facsimiles of each other, and at an expense I should think far inferior to that of Engraving.<1>

The Calotype process dispenses not only with the draughtsman but also with the engraver & the copperplate printer. It executes the whole itself. The pictures I believe to be quite permanent. A month’s exposure to daylight at a window produces no effect on them, for they seem to have the same fixity as a printed page. If it should be wished then to use the Calotype for this purpose, I should be ready to agree to it on reasonable conditions, & should moreover have pleasure in contributing my assistance occasionally, so as to ensure the success of the various operations.

I hope your own scientific pursuits are prospering & that you are following them up with your usual ardour.

Believe me to remain Dear Sir Yours most truly
H. F. Talbot


1. Public understanding of the nature of photography and its ability to make multiple prints was so low even by the following year that WHFT found it necessary to include a slip in copies of his The Pencil of Nature, explaining that the prints were actual photographs and not engravings in imitation of them.

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