10 June 1849
H. Fox Talbot Esq.
We had the pleasure to receive a communication from our W. Langenheim, <1> informing us of the effectual arrangement he had succeeded in making with you in regard to the purchase of your Patent. <2> It is our interest, but it will be an especial pleasure to us to promote and perfect your invaluable invention, and in a very short time we hope to be able to send you a few specimens of Talbotypes, which will surpass in sharpness and delicacy of shading even a good Daguerreotype.
The Talbotypes have created a great sensation all over the United States, and most papers of any standing contain favorable articles on the subject, among a great number of which we refer only to the Daily National Intelligencer, Washington, of May 12, which contains a long article on the subject, and which it may perhaps interest you to read.
But the Talbotypes have also created a great deal of envy among our opponents and doubtless attempts will be made to infringe upon our purchased right, against which we have to guard with every possible care, and in which effort we hope you will lend us your aid. The most important point and perhaps the only weak point in your Patent is that one section of our Patent laws reads thus “If an alien neglects to put and continue on Sale his invention for 18 successive months, he looses all benefits of his Patent”.-- As this paragraph will most probably serve as a pretext for such people who like to read where others sowd, we would ask you to give us every possible information what steps you may have takin, or in what way you think we could avoid the application of the above paragraph. You may have been perhaps aware of it, and taken precaution against it, of which we are not aware. In our opinion it is very clear that Mssrs. __________? & Anthony, <3> after having signed in due form a contract for the purchase of your patent, became your authorized agents, as, if you had chosen, you could have forced them to fulfill their contract. How far this would go in a court of justice, we cannot say, but it will be needfull for us to prepare for all emergencies and to do this it will be most important to have either the original
contract or a certified copy of the contract entered into between you and Messrs. ________? & Anthony of N. York. also the correspondence between you and them bearing on that point. We ask the favor of a speedy transmission of the above papers, as with them we hope to be able to avoid the difficulty. You would also confer a favor to us if you could give us other information on the subject to avoid that difficulty.
Hoping you will favor us with an early answer and also with the needfull papers we have the honor to sign
Yours very respectfully
W. & F. Langenheim
1. Ernst Wilhelm (William) Langenheim (1807-1874), German photographer, active in Philadelphia.
2. This was for his calotype process: Improvement in Photographic Pictures, US Letters Patent 5171, 26 June 1847.