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Document number: 7013
Date: Mon 04 Dec 1854
Dating: reply to 07081, 5 Dec 1854
Recipient: STORY-MASKELYNE Nevil
Author: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Last updated: 1st September 2003

Mr Maskelyne

Athenæum <1>


Dr Sir

Henneman <2> informs me the Photogrc Socy <3> will hold a meeting on Wedny next, I believe, to make their final arrangements for my destruction at the Trial. <4> It is evident they will do their uttermost, (the same body that asked me to be their President!)

Would you have any objection to give the following evidence, in answer to questions my Counsel would be instructed to ask.

1. A Section of the Photogrc Socy are exerting themselves strongly against the Plaintiff.
2. Their object is to get rid of the Patent if possible.
3. Many members of the Socy disapprove entirely of the Socy interfering in the matter.
4. <illegible deletion> Mr Fry <5> is one of the members who is most active in his hostility to the Plaintiff.
5. He is the Defendant’s Attorney in this cause. [that we will answer for]
6. The Plaintiff presented his patent to the Public some years ago, with the reservation of portraiture for sale.
7. The Photographic Socy are well aware of that circumstance.
8. The Society at its first formation, requested the Plaintiff to be their first President.

If you try the single positive process in my Specifn – the best way is, after exciting the iodised paper and washing it, to place a strip of card across one corner, then brown ye paper a little by holding it near the window, remove the card, and You will see by contrast the degree of browning better than the eye unassisted can judge. Then dip the paper in iod. potass. for a minute or so, till you see the image of the card has nearly not quite, disappeared, then put the object on the paper as a leaf or bit of lace, and place in the sun for ½ a minute – Remove, and develop with gallonitrate.

The Camera pictures take a good 4 minutes at this season when the object is a white plaster bust – Therefore a leaf laid on the paper is a preferable object. /

Yours vy truly

H. F. Talbot


1. The Athenæum and (London) Literary Chronicle, London.

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

3. This had begun in 1847 as the Photographic Club. It subsequently became the Royal Photographic Society. It spearheaded the attack on WHFT’s patent rights in the lawsuits he brought against James Henderson, photographer, London in the summer of 1854 and Martin Laroche later in the same year.

4. In 1852 WHFT 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. Later in 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. Story-Maskelyne was one of the supporters of WHFT on the council of the otherwise hostile Photographic Society.

5. Peter Wickens Fry, an opponent of WHFT. He was a founder of the Photographic Club, and a lawyer whose firm, Fry & Loxley, acted for Laroche in the lawsuit against him.

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