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Document number: 6271
Date: 18 Nov 1849
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Collection: National Science and Media Museum, Bradford
Collection number: 1937-4979
Last updated: 30th December 2010

18 November 1849

W.H.F. Talbot, Esq.


Not having received an answer to our letter of Sept 21st we take the liberty of addressing you again on the same subject.

We asked for a postponement of the two last installments [sic]; but not hearing from you we must conclude that you are not inclined to grant it. Under existing circumstances, however, this would be extremely hard for us. We have laboured as hard as men can possibly labour to bring the Talbotype to a greater degree of perfection as well as to sell the patent right. <1> In the perfection of the art we have succeeded far beyond our most sanguine expectations. We are able now to deliver portraits without touching them in most cases and the appearance of the specimens sent already and of those sent now must convince you that we have done more for the perfectioning of the art than any other operator we know of. In the other part we have been very unsuccessfull [sic]. We have sold the Patent right for only a few comparatively unimportant states (Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and Texas) notwithstanding our most strenuous exertions. We have sent great quantities of our best specimens all over the United States; but have found no one who would buy the patent for any of them (except the above 5) partly because the productions are so new to every one that they do not know whether to pronounce them good, bad or indifferent, a tercium comparationis[?] being entirely wanting; partly because a great prejudice exists in favour of the Daguerreotype which can not be eradicated very easily; and partly because the price asked was too high. In the mean time we had adapted a different plan, of which we enclose a prospectus, but as yet we have little hope of its success, as we have not received one single application from the 1 inst, the day we issued it, untill today. If we fail to sell 200 licenses and you decline postponing the two last installments ruin stares us in the face. It lies in your hands to keep it off from us by giving us time to earn the means to pay you. We have not the least doubt of our ultimate success but we see clearly that some time will yet elapse.

Do, therefore, consent to postpone the payment of the two last installments and do not deprive us of the necessary energy and means to investigate still farther improvements we have in view and to further the sale of the Patent.

It is further extremely harassing to us that Mr. Creeft <2> who so disinterestedly offered to become our security should be put to any inconvenience on our account and you could grant us no greater favour than by releasing him from his obligation. We can proudly say that we are honest and will pay you as soon as we can. While to you it can be only a matter of small importance wether you receive the two last installments now or a year after it is to us a matter of vital importance. We would sooner sell the last thing we possess in the world in order that Mr. Creeft should not loose on our account but we would then be unfit to prosecute our improvements farther. Please let Mr. C. soon know that you release him from his security or he will send off the accepted drafts he holds from us which would involve us in a great deal of costs.

In the mean time it has occurred to us, that it might be advisable to take out a patent for our improvements in the Talbotype in England. <3> These improvements certainly of great importance and if you deem it advisable and let us know soon, before we publish our process here, you shall, of course, have the first offer, as you will be able to use it to the greatest advantage in combination with your original Patent. We do not doubt that we could come to terms with you if you can use our improvements at all.

We have still an other arrangement to propose. We have paid you already Threethousand Dollars (600). Keep them and take back the Patent with the exception of the States mentioned (which are really unimportant) and leave us the use of the Patent right for the City of Philadelphia; and if you desire it we shall even give up the latter although with great regret. As soon as you shall agreed to this proposition we shall immediately execute the necessary legal documents. Although we shall loose greatly by this arrangement, we shall, notwithstanding, feel extremely gratefull to you and shall always use our best endeavours to facilitate the disposition of your patent in the rest of the United States in any way we possibly can. The Talbotype by our exertions becomes better known and appreciated every day and you can not be possibly the loser by this arrangement. We, on our side propose it particularly as the means of getting Mr.C. ex nexu and shall value it on that account above all others.

The specimens we send by the same steamer that carries this letter and Adam's Express will forward them to you. <4>

Expecting to hear from you soon we remain, Sir, most respectfully
Your obedient servants W. & F. Langenheim

P.S. The Prospectus referred to, we have packed up with the specimens.

H. Fox Talbot, Esqr
Lacock Abbey Chippenham Wiltshire
Athenaeum Club, London, England


1. This was for WHFT's calotype process: Improvement in Photographic Pictures, US Letters Patent 5171, 26 June 1847.

2. John Christopher Tobias Kreeft, Christopher Kreeft (1787-1850), merchant & Mecklenburg Consulate General, London.

3. This was the Hyalotype, the first commercially available photographic positive transparency, which they invented in 1848. Plates, both negative and positive, were made by the albumen on glass process.

4. There are 15 known Langenheim photographs that were in WHFT's possession. These are now distributed between the British Library, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Media Museum in Bradford and in private collections..

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