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Document number: 6331
Date: 07 Jun 1850
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: MALONE Thomas Augustine
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA50-27
Last updated: 28th November 2012

122 Regent St <1>
7th June 1850

To H F Talbot Esqr


I have received your letters of the 4th & 5th inst In reply to the first I wish to send a statement requiring an examination of our books in order to give you accurate & I trust satisfactory information.

I will send you as soon as possible the result of the experiment you suggest. The publication in the Athenæum <2> does not deprive us of the right to patent <3> the conversion of the negative into a positive the medium used is a matter of choice. You may safely speak of black (which is made) earthenware or slate or black minerals or stones. black porcelain would seem to be desirable & in accord with the other part of the patent.

Mr Claudet <4> has some idea of trying the process: finding it troublesome to polish his silver plates. If you patent the conversion he cannot use it without license.

The publication in the Athenæum has saved us from the imputation of taking it from Balard. <5> If sufficient nitrate of silver remains on the film of albumen gallic acid without subsequent nitrate develops in time a positive image. –

I think you may patent French paper coated with drying oil. Linseed oil: or boiled Linseed oil or Poppy oil or Walnut oil the result is a glassy surface beautifully perfect which is attacked by Iodine vapour immersion in aceto-nitrate renders it sensitive. gallic Acid develops the image. I have operated only with slips out of the camera but have no doubt from the result & from the nature of the process that something good will come of it.

Oil on glass has been used by others but oil on paper is an idea of my own & I find french paper preferable though not indispensible. –

I can assure you I have but little spare time – for this reason you are the last attended to. I am sure you will not mistake my meaning and on reflection will not attribute the apparent inattention to your order for portraits of Sir D Brewster <6> to any really censurable causes.

I am Sir your very obedt Servt
T A Malone.

I am a little at a loss for a person trust-worthy, & intelligent, enough to make the pictures for the Pencil of Nature. <7> I am looking out for some one.


1. 122 Regent Street, London: base of Nicolaas Hennemans’ Talbotype or Sun Picture Rooms, later the firm of Henneman & Malone, photographers to the Queen.

2. Thomas Augustine Malone, ‘Photography on Glass’, dated 2 May, the Athenæum, 1 June 1850, no. 1189, p.589.

3. WHFT and Malone filed a joint patent for ‘Improvement in Photography’ on 19 December 1849; it was finalised on 18 June 1850 as Patent No. 12,906. This incorporated a number of inventions, including the efforts on porcelain, but they filed a disclaimer rescinding much of this on 26 March 1855.

4. Antoine Françoise Jean Claudet (1797–1867), London; French-born scientist, merchant & photographer, resident in London.

5. Antoine Jérôme Balard (1802–1876), most famous for having isolated bromine from seaweed in 1826.

6. Sir David Brewster (1781–1868), Scottish scientist & journalist.

7. WHFT, The Pencil of Nature (London: Longman, Brown, Green, & Longmans, June 1844–April 1846 [issued in six fascicles]). WHFT had originally planned 12 fascicles encompassing a total of fifty prints, but had discontinued the publication when the early prints started fading. Malone's investigations held promise for a more stable paper, one that could allow re-starting the publication. In the end, sadly, this did not happen.

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