London 122 Regent St <1>
22 August 1849
To H F Talbot Esq
It is not possible at present to give a fair estimate of the cost of the negatives for a work such as you mention.
The want of good paper<2> renders it difficult to obtain perfect negatives without much trouble. We think 100 negatives of the size of the reduced Punch worth £10. I have seen some very perfect Talbotypes – taken in Paris. They are very well defined. Horses & men distinctly marked down – the shadows not too black – the general effect is very artistic the paper seems good.
I am about to proceed to Paris as I mentioned in a former letter.
I hope to gain some information about paper there.
The French paper is very sensitive. I am told that some kinds of paper give images in Daguerreotype time <3> ie instantaneously. I have an introduction to an operator who operates thus quickly.
I shall endeavour to find out the method of sizing adopted in France. I think the sensitiveness comes from the size.
A theoretical paper on Photography in Moigno’s Repertoire D’Optique Moderne <4> leads me to this conclusion. Moigno’s book professes to give a complete history of Photography there are many errors in it some I think relating to yourself. Professor Wheatstone <5> advised me to get the book as he thought it contained some valuable suggestions. A theoretical paper in it is the most suggestive.
After my return from Paris I must labour earnestly at the fixing process making such experiments as will confirm still more the theoretical views I have taken of the subject.
Unless you see the experiments you cannot judge of the process well.
I think you will not require to wait 12 months to test the results the experiments seem too conclusive to admit of doubt. It is certainly wise to doubt too much rather than too little.
Herr Kuhn <6> left us because he did not get sitters enough to pay him for his labour. His artist often spoiled the likeness.
I remain sir your most obedient servt
T A Malone
1. Although dated from the London address, Malone must have been in France when he wrote this. There is an envelope in the NMP from Malone addressed ‘H F Talbot Esq, Lacock Abbey, Chippenham, England’, with a postmark Amiens 25 Aout 49 and additional postmarks of Chippenham 27 Aug 1849. 122 Regent Street was the London address of the Sun Picture Rooms, proprietor, Nicolaas Henneman (1813–1898), Dutch, active in England; WHFT’s valet, then assistant; photographer.
2. Variabilities in paper plagued WHFT from the start. The chemical composition varied from batch to batch, sometimes depending on the quality of the rags employed, sometimes due to proprietary changes, and more often due to matter of quality control that did not affect uses such as writing and drawing.
3. One of the reasons that the Daguerreotype secured an early advantage in portraiture was its short exposure times, ranging from a very few seconds to sometimes fractions of a second.
4. François Napoléon Marie Moigno, Répertoire d’Optique moderne, ou analyse complete des travaux modernes relatifs aux phénomènes de la lumière (Paris: 1847–1850).
5. Sir Charles Wheatstone (1802–1875), scientist.