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Document number: 4235
Date: 05 Apr 1841
Recipient: TALBOT William Henry Fox
Author: WHEATSTONE Charles
Collection: British Library, London, Manuscripts - Fox Talbot Collection
Collection number historic: LA41-26
Last updated: 1st August 2010

20 Conduit St <1>
April 5th 1841

My dear Sir

I hope you will not proceed with your new Patent <2> untill we have some conversation together. It will cost no more to include my improvements in the same Patent, and I have some which I think may be turned to good account. I am quite willing, if you approve of it, and will bear the expences to throw them all into a common stock. I know a respectable artist who has devoted himself with great success to the manipulations of voltatyping, <3> and who is ready to devote his entire time to carrying out our ideas; it might be judicious to give him a share. The experiments will cost something but they will by no means be so expensive as other applications of electricity, that as a motive power for instance. If you are likely to return to town soon I will communicate to you verbally the construction of my improved apparatus and the new application of the process I propose, if not I will send you a brief account in writing.

Yours very truly
C. Wheatstone.


1. London.

2. It is not clear which patent they are discussing here. Wheatstone and WHFT worked together on electro-mechanical problems, but the reference here seems to be for something visual. It might have been some aspect of WHFT's calotype Patent No. 8842, 'Photographic Pictures', which was sealed 8 February 1841 and granted 29 July 1841. It might also have been in reference to WHFT's Patent No. 9167, 'Coating and Coloring Metallic Surfaces', granted 9 June 1842, or his Patent No. 9528, 'Gilding and Silvering Metals', granted 9 May 1843. During the period of this letter, WHFT was experimenting on a wide variety of applications of electricity to metals, some with a view towards applications in photography, including foreshadowings of his later Photographic Engraving and Photoglyphic Engraving. The range of his imagination in this area is intdicated in his research notes, reproduced in facsimile in Larry J Schaaf, Records of the Dawn of Photography: Talbot's Notebooks P & Q (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).

3. A synonym for ‘electrotyping’.

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