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Document number: 5318
Date: 1852
Dating: based on Doc no 06653
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Collection: PRIVATE
Collection number: 300437.237
Last updated: 9th February 2011

[This is an unusual, possibly unique, printed copy of open letter to WHFT. It is unsigned, but certainly related, at least in spirit, to the public appeal made by Sir Charles Eastlake and Lord Rosse for WHFT to surrender his calotype patent rights - see their July 1852 letter Doc. No: 06653. This artifact is believed to have come from the Lacock Abbey collection.]

To H. F. Talbot, Esq., F.R.S.


The position in which the art of Photography is at present placed with reference to the Patent Rights induces us, as admirers of that beautiful art, to address this letter to you upon the subject.

We believe that there are a great number of valuable purposes to which it may be applied: and amongst others, to the assistance of the Artist, the Architect, the Engraver, the Astronomer, the Meteorologist, and, in general, of the followers of the various divisions of Natural Science.

We expect that, by increasing the accuracy and extent of recorded observations, it will materially enlarge the boundaries of human knowledge.

There needs but the co-operation of men eminent in their respective branches of study to develope its uses to an undreamt of extent.

At present, however, this co-operation is much hindered by the existence of Patent Rights, and the uncertainty as to the use which may be made by unlicensed persons of those Patents for purposes of amusement or philosophic research.

We are informed that your intention in patenting your invention was not so much to obtain thereby any pecuniary advantage, as to establish, in a definite manner, your claim to the original invention of Photography on paper. This, however, is now universally recognised in this and other countries: we, therefore, venture to suggest to you that it is no longer necessary that you should for that purpose maintain the Patent Rights: and, as we are sure that no one can feel so great an interest in the further progress of the Art as yourself, we feel much confidence in expressing the hope that you will relieve it from all those obstacles to its future developement which are presented by the maintenance of the Patent restrictions.

Allow us to add that should the sole reward arising to you from this invention be the honour flowing from the united testimony of the artistic and scientific world, you will still have the satisfaction of having secured to England the honour of a discovery equal to that which France has achieved in the invention of the Daguerreotype. For, beautiful and useful as are the applications of that form of the art, they seem, if not already surpassed, destined to yield to the results that may be obtained from the present and future developements of your invention.

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