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Document number: 5203
Date: 04 Mar 1845
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: THOMPSON William
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA45-29
Last updated: 8th March 2012

Happisburgh Norfolk
March 4 /45
at Mr Howes


I have been much pleased with most of the pictures in your ‘Pencil of nature’ <1> which I have purchased

If you do not deem it inconsistent I should like to know whether they are produced by an achromatic lens, or by a non-achromatic Perhaps you will not object to inform me where the best lenses of both kinds may be obtained, for although I have both English & French achromatics, I cannot produce a calotype (it might well have been called calleotype) <2> in less than several minutes. In the report of Bri the meetings of the British Association last year in the Athenæum it is stated, that you informed the Chemical Section that pictures might be obtained in two seconds upon the pure iodide of silver in conjunction with the sulphate of iron I have several times tried the experiment of exposing the iodised paper in the camera & subsequently washing it with solutio ferri sulphates but always without success I should be highly gratified if you would condescen[d] to favor me with a little additional information with respect to the mode of operating. You are doubtless aware that there are at Castle Rising & Castle Acre some of the finest monastic remains in England. If I could, by any means, procure a good lens and camera, I should proceed to the above mentioned places to obtain copies & I would with pleasure place the best at your disposal and also copies of Wolseys Gate in Ipswich<.> I have, what appears to be, good lenses of 16 inch focus, but which cost me something considerable, but they do not give me sharp images over any extent of field. In your picture of the Boulevards the long line of chimneys are as sharp as Bain’s house.

I trust you will not consider me pressuring, but I hope you will not give us any but camera views in the next numbers of your work The leaf in No 2 is certainly very pretty, but they are not so difficult of execution & consequently not so valuable as camera views. I think also that such a picture as the bookshelves in No 2 hardly deserves a place in by the side of such pictures as the Haystack, the Boulevards & the Open Door & I am not alone in this opinion; from all I can learn, the feeling among the amateurs of the art is identical with my own

I am Sir With great respect Yours
W Thompson

W. H. F. Talbot Esqr
Lacock Abbey


1. WHFT's photographically illustrated book, The Pencil of Nature, issued in six parts from 1844-1846 (London: Longman, Green, Brown, & Longmans).

2. Thompson expressed his frustration through an interesting play on words here. WHFT's calotype was from the Greek, for beautiful pictures. Thompson's re-naming this as the calleotype was from the Latin calleo, which meant callous, i.e., to be experienced in.

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