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Document number: 7069
Date: Tue 28 Nov 1854
Dating: 28th? Nov?
Recipient: STORY-MASKELYNE Nevil
Author: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Last updated: 12th July 2010

Mr Maskelyne

Tuesday Evg

Dr Sir

I enclose another copy of the Specifn – Mr Reade’s <1> process being so different from that mine I am told it is scarcely necessary for me to adduce evidence <2> of its comparative inefficiency. Therefore I will not trouble You to make any Expts <3> on that hand.

As I wrote to you this morning <4> on the subject of following closely ye words of my Specifictn <5> in any expts on photogrc pictures you make with a view of testing the accuracy, I will only add that I understand the defendt & his witnesses <6> mean to attack its accuracy and say it contains serious errors. But after the most careful scrutiny I can find none. It was the best process known at the time, it has been improved since both by myself and others, but there is no error in it.

I remain Dr Sir Yours vy Truly
H. F. Talbot


1. Rev Joseph Bancroft Reade (1801–1870), microscopist & photographer. See Doc. No: 07059. It was Reade who first applied gallic acid, a tanning agent, to paper; during the trial to he claimed to have invented the Calotype process. [For a detailed account of this, see H.J.P. Arnold, William Henry Fox Talbot: Pioneer of photography and man of science (London: Hutchinson Benham, 1977, pp. 203–205.]

2. In 1852 Talbot had thrown open his photographic patents as far as amateur photography was concerned, though he retained them regarding professional portraiture. He won several injunctions against professional portrait-photographers who infringed them, and in 1854 he sought to obtain another against James Henderson, photographer, London, a professional photographer who took portraits using the collodion process. In December of the same year, and before the Henderson case was concluded, he failed to obtain an injunction against another portrait-photographer, Martin Laroche, who, he claimed, had infringed two important elements of his patents. [For an account of these significant cases, and the opposition to Talbot’s patents, see Arnold, pp. 198–209.]

3. See Doc. No: 07059, Doc. No: 07066.

4. Doc. No: 07068.

5. For the Calotype process.

6. Martin Laroche [the professional name of William Henry Silvester]. Among his witnesses were J. B. Reade, Robert Hunt (1807–1887), scientist & photographic historian and Andrew Ross (1798–1859), London optician & author.

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