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Document number: 5005
Date: 31 May 1844
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: HENNEMAN Nicolaas
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA44-32
Last updated: 16th September 2012

Reading <1>
May 31 /44


Do not you think I better part with either Murray or Porter <2> for I have not suficient to do to emploi one les two and of course it is very expensive to me to keep them when I get nothing, coming in as at present, and I do not see any prospect to have suficient to do to inploy them both, beside the boy - I went to Mr Walter <3> the other day but owing to the weather I did not get such good results as I expected wyl there I took another Negative of the Busts and Mr Walter is very much pleased with the result Mr Lovejoy <4> advised me not to accept any thing if they offer it to mee thinking it will be more to the advantage for the Calotype, he thinks if you would make him a present of a coppy of your work telling him you heard tru me that he takes a great interest in the matter would have a good effect - I here with inclose you a coppy of the last I took and send him som today - the coppies I send him are rather better than yours the negative I did not boil for fear of getting to bad a ground like the others -

The weather has and is still very bad and not fit for negatives I hope your camera will soon arrive from Paris I have got the Chemical chest it is a very good one but a good deal dearer than I anticipated Costing fyf guinies the paper Coppies I send you, could not have been done twice over, onles I knew before hand wish were going to turn out bad, but by using 6 oz of N.S. <5> to 10 oz of water I get less failures - I only use as little nitric accid as possible being 1/7 and if I use none the coppies com out smeary, I think the brown tint is the result of the Hypo being made diferent[sic] to wath it used to be when it was 12 Shilling a [illegible] for ever sints the hypo became cheaper I never get such dark grounds - or els it must be the paper if you could find som Wathman Turkey Mill Bleu <6> I think that may have a good efect for the Page & [illegible] - the speck in the Portrait you [illegible deletion] complain of is and always has been in the original if it is the speck in the neck, or in the small writing, and i cannot detect any other spots [illegible] if I let it come very strong the ground gets derty & requires to be lowerd but I will Try to make another Negative as I have the original

Your Obt Svt
N. Henneman

the coppie I enclose is derty on the back as you will observe that was by accident those I send to Mr Walter are all rigt


1. Nicolaas Henneman (1813–1898), born in Holland and trained in Paris, was WHFT’s valet who emerged as his assistant in photography. Henneman set up his Calotype works at 8 Russell Terrace, Reading. Commencing operations at the start of 1844, it functioned both as a photographic studio and as a photographic printing works and continued through late 1846, at which time Henneman transferred his operations to London. Although Talbot supported Henneman through custom, such as printing the plates for The Pencil of Nature, and loans, it was always Henneman's operation. His business cards made no mention of "The Reading Establishment," the designation that it is popularly given today; the only contemporary use of that title seemed to be by Benjamin Cowderoy - see Doc. No: 05690 - and in Henneman's initial correspondence with WHFT.

2. Unidentified, but just possibly Robert Murray (1798-1857), Irish instrument maker, based in London at John Newman; from 1855 photographic partner with Vernon Heath. Probably Charles Porter (b. 1828), a servant at Lacock Abbey who was the frequent subject of photographs, and occasionally also acted as a photographic assistant.

3. Henneman had been commissioned to copy a bust of the recently deceased Catherine Walter, the daughter of John Walter, the proprietor of The Times. It was included as the frontispiece to Record of the Death Bed of C.M.W., a privately published booklet issued around June 1844, almost simultaneously with the first fascicle of The Pencil of Nature. It is possible that Antoine Claudet was involved with a later version of this image - see Doc. No: 05037.

4. George Lovejoy (1808-1883), bookseller, Reading.

5. Nitrate of Silver.

6. James Whatman's Turkey Mill paper was favoured by watercolourists and was the most suitable paper available for early photography. Rag-based, its wove surface (as opposed to the more common chain-laid) provided a uniform base for prints and a patternless density for negatives. Its gelatin sizing (compared with the rosin sizing used for continental papers) was ideal for photographic chemistry. Being made by hand, there were variations between batches even in this high quality paper, and certain years were sought after. It was generally watermarked with the year of manufacture.

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