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Document number: 7064
Date: 23 Nov 1854
Recipient: STORY-MASKELYNE Nevil
Author: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Last updated: 12th July 2010

N. S. Maskelyne Esq

Athm Club <1>
Nov. 23d

Dr Sir

This cause <2> will come on for trial about the 9th December <3> or a few days later as it may happen. My solicitor <4> is now actively Engaged in taking down the Evidence of witnesses for the instruction of Counsel, & he is very desirous of knowing the particulars of the evidence with which You will favor me <5>. Had you been in Town I would have proposed to you to call upon him in company with me, but I am unwilling to give you the trouble of coming up to Town twice on this matter, and therefore I have suggested to him that it will be sufficient if I send to you the notes which I made last Summer, asking you, if they are incorrect, to correct them, and add anything further that you please. I am desirous of showing to the Court that it is the general opinion of men of science that I am the true inventor of the Calotype, and that it was not the invention of Daguerre <6> or any other person – These things may appear unnecessary but the adverse Counsel intend to make such statements as the above, and a credulous jury knowing nothing of the Subject, will believe them unless rebutted by the testimony of some scientific men of Eminence. Anything therefore that you choose to add respecting the novelty of the invention, its utility &c. &c. will be of much service to us.

Believe me Yours Truly
H. F. Talbot

The notes are Enclosed<7> – they are mere heads of Evidence roughly noted down after a conversation with you last Summer.
Please to return the M.S.


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

2. In 1852 Talbot had thrown open his photographic patents as far as amateur photography was concerned, but 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 H.J.P. Arnold, William Henry Fox Talbot: Pioneer of photography and man of science (London: Hutchinson Benham, 1977, pp. 198–209.]

3. 9 December 1854 was, however, a Saturday. The trial eventually took place from 18 to 20 December.

4. John Henry Bolton (1795–1873), solicitor, London.

5. Story-Maskelyne had been asked by Talbot to be a witness for him. See Doc. No: 06991.

6. Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre (1787–1851), French artist, showman & inventor.

7. Not located.

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