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Document number: 4968
Date: 18 Mar 1844
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: THOMPSON William
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA44-020
Last updated: 5th April 2010

Ipswich Tavern Street
March 18/44


You have on previous occasions been kind enough to answer my queries, & I would take the liberty of enquiring whether you can inform me where I can obtain paper sufficiently good for negative Calotypes. <1>

I should esteem it a great favor if you would do so, none is to be obtained from Whatmans <2> Mill worth having, the paper now sent from there, is very different from that manufactured 2 or 3 years ago.

I have produced some very tolerable pictures but they are spoild [sic], by the mottled & speckled appearance of the paper, as you will see by those I have enclosed.

I need hardly say, that I practise the art entirely for my amusement & edification, & that I do not derive the smallest advantage from it, as you will readily believe, from the specimens

I would also ask what advantage is gained by using the io-gallic paper, <3> instead of applying the gallo-nitrate at the time of using.

I find that the hyposulphite used in fixing the pictures is rapidly decomposed, for which I suppose there is no remedy.

The smallest picture I have sent is intended for Wolseys Gate, <4> the only part remaining of the college which he erected in this place.

Hoping that I shall not be deemed intrusive

I am sir Yours very Respectfully
W Thompson.

W.H.F. Talbot Esqr

Lacock Abbey


1. The variability in manufacture of commercial papers was a constant source of frustration for WHFT. Changes in formulation or minor impurities usually had no effect for writing or drawing purposes, but with they often interacted with the chemistry of photography.

2. Whatman’s Turkey Mill paper, a hand-made writing-paper made in Maidstone, Kent, was favoured by WHFT for photographic use. Its woven surface provided a uniform base for prints and a patternless density for negatives, and it had good wet-strength, although small variations in texture and chemical content could cause problems when the paper was used in photography. The gelatin size suited photographic chemistry better than the rosin used in some other papers, particularly Continental ones. It was generally watermarked with the year of manufacture and certain years were sought after.

3. This became part of WHFT's 1843 Patent No. 7853, "Improvements in Photography." See Larry J. Schaaf, Records of the Dawn of Photography: Talbot's Notebooks P & Q (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), Q89 and passim.

4. See Doc. No: 05203.

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