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Document number: 6110
Date: 15 Feb 1848
Recipient: MALONE Thomas Augustine
Author: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA48-014
Last updated: 27th February 2010

15 Feb. 48


I believe that my former letter to you was quite clear as to the terms offered, altho’ you appear not to have entirely understood it. I wish to risk in this speculation a certain sum of money and no more. I also wish to be freed from all trouble respecting it in future, and all responsibility connected with it, since I do not reside in Town, and not residing there find it difficult if not impossible to exercise any superintendence over it. Nor does it answer to employ a Secretary for that purpose – I have therefore made this offer to you and Henneman, and if you decline it, I shall offer it to other parties, and if I fail to make any satisfactory arrangement I shall close the establishment.

If you and Henneman <1> purchase the license from me on the terms mentioned, and if I send you a Certain sum of money beyond that, to assist you at starting, then I shall be freed from all further responsibility (except to Mr Newman, if I guarantee the payment of the Rent) – If you fail in business, I shall lose a portion of the thousand pounds I lend you, and of any other sums I may have lent you (it is to be hoped, not the whole of it). You would pay a dividend to your creditors, in which I should share proportionally If you had no effects, I should lose the whole, but I will not anticipate so much ill success as that – Mr Newman would be paid in full by me, but I would not pay any other debts to anybody. It is merely the case of money lent by a Third party to two partners setting up in business if they fail, the lender of the money loses part or the whole of it, and the business is closed.

If you set up for yourselves I shall certainly endeavour to procure you Customers, which I could do more easily when I could say that it was not my own establishment which I recommended, and I would also deal with you myself, perhaps largely, for instance in case I proceeded with my work the Pencil of Nature I should then require some thousand copies printed. I should also communicate to you most likely some improved methods of photography – At present you have few customers, because to say the truth your portraits are not by any means what they ought to be with the present knowledge of photography – and you suffer them to be spoiled by Mr Hervé, <2> to an extent which is cruelly vexatious – You do nothing whatever in the branch of the Art which would prove the most lucrative of any, the Copying of Daguerrotype portraits enlarged on paper – If you would take my advice you would make that one of your main objects if you take the business yourself. I will very willingly try to assist you in it by devising improved processes and instruments, but I am not willing any longer to continue the Establishment at my own risk – It is a constant source of dissatisfaction to me which I wish to put an end to – But If I could be the means of setting up yourself and Henneman in a respectable profession, I shall be glad to have given You the opportunity

H. F. T.

I also have some thoughts of publishing a book on photography applied to the Microscope which would probably require a great many Copies of the plates, which you might Execute for me. All this is written as much to Henneman as to yourself.


1. Nicolaas Henneman (1813–1898), Dutch, active in England; WHFT’s valet, then assistant; photographer.

2. Henry Hervé, miniature painter, 12 Cheapside, London. Henneman had experimented having several different artists try hand-colouring the salt prints. The effects were usually clumsy.

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