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Document number: 6995
Date: 16 Jun 1854
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA54-33
Last updated: 18th February 2012

My dear Mr Talbot

I shall be in Town to morrow Evening: & probably dine at the Athenæum. <1>

At any rate if you will kindly leave word where I may find you, I will seek you on Sunday and talk over with you the subject of your note. <2> I think the Public have treated you very wrongly in respect of your beautiful discovery.

I have always done what has been in my power to maintain your right both to the discovery & to the use of your patent <3> of it, and I shall deem myself happy if I can in any way assist you <4> in asserting both.

I am Yours ever, very truly
Nevil Story-Maskelyne.

Ashmolean Museum <5> – Oxford.
June 16. 1854.


1. Athenaeum Club, Pall Mall, London: WHFT’s club; a gentleman’s club composed primarily of artists and scientists.

2. Doc. No: 06991.

3. 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. 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. [For an account of these significant cases, and the opposition to Talbot’s patents, see H. J. P. Arnold, William Henry Fox Talbot: Pioneer of Photography and Man of Science (London: Hutchinson Benham, 1977), pp. 198–209.] Story-Maskelyne was one of the supporters of Talbot on the otherwise hostile council of the Photographic Society.

4. Talbot had asked Story-Maskelyne [see Doc. No: 06991] to appear as a witness for him in the Henderson case.

5. Story-Maskelyne lectured on mineralogy and chemistry at the University of Oxford, and had a laboratory in the lower part of the museum building.

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