The original article plus this Addendum is available as one PDF (Acrobat Reader) file:
In the article on The daguerreotype patent, the British Government, and the Royal Society published in History of Photography, January 1980, Vol.4, pp.5359, attention was drawn to significant documents relating to the patent for the Daguerreotype taken out in England in 1839 by a London patent agent, Miles Berry, on behalf of Daguerre. As some interest has been shown in these documents during the twenty years since the appearance of the article, publication of the full texts would obviously be a welcome addition to the literature on the early history of photography.
The first item is a letter now in the Autograph Letter Collection of the Wellcome Institute of the History of Medicine, London. It was purchased in Paris in June 1930.(#) This letter to L. J. M. Daguerre was written on 1 August 1839 by Sir John Herschel on behalf of the Royal Society. Daguerre's discovery had been publicized since January of that year and Daguerre had displayed daguerreotypes to many people in Paris. Herschel himself had been shown some during a visit to Paris in May ( ). But until Daguerre obtained a pension from the French Government, no details of the technique were released until 19th August 1839. No reply from Daguerre is known.
[Addressed to] A Monsr
Monsr. Daguerre, 17 Boulevard St Martin, Paris
[Addressed from] Royal Society, Somerset House, London
August 1, 1839.
As I see by the public papers that your beautiful process for the photographic representation of objects is speedily about to be made public in consequence of the vote of the Chamber of Deputies equally honorable to that body and to yourself permit me to apply to you in the name of the Council of the Royal Society for the purpose of procuring, if possible, an apparatus with the proper Camera Obscura and 100 plates properly prepared to receive impressions, and with instructions for its use and for executing the singular and extraordinary process by which you have been able to effect such wonders If the request appears to you extraordinary, the circumstances of the case will explain it. Captain Ross (the discoverer of the Northern Magnetic Pole) is about to proceed on a Voyage of Discovery and circumnavigation of the Antarctic Pole, in command of two Ships, the Terror and Erebus, admirably equipped and every way furnished with instruments of Science and Art. Now the Council of the Royal Society are earnestly desirous that the Expedition should sail provided with the invaluable resources furnished by the Daguerrotype process for depicting the scenes they may visit and as it will be yet 3 weeks before the sailing of the Ships, and it has been stated that within that time your process will probably be divulged they consider that the importance of the occasion justifies this direct application to you.
I shall hope for your early reply, and that it will be such as to enable me to announce to the Council that the apparatus and instructions will be forwarded in time (ie to arrive before the 20th August, inst.) Should you wish that the instructions should yet remain for some time secret you may send them sealed and may rely on them not being opened till the Ships shall have passed the Cape of Good Hope In that case you will have the goodness expressly to write to that effect.
I have the honor to be
Sir, Your very obedient
J. F. W. Herschel.
PS. I would beg leave to refer to M. Arago for any explanations should you think them needed
In case of your reply being in the affirmative, I would request you to state the probable cost of the apparatus
In the article on The daguerreotype patent, the British Government, and the Royal Society published in History of Photography in January 1980, the most significant document discussed regarding the patent for the Daguerreotype taken out in England in 1839 by the London patent agent, Miles Berry, on behalf of Daguerre was a six page Memorial dated 30 March 1840, written by Berry to the Board of the Treasury. A proposal was put forward that the British Government purchase the rights of the Daguerreotype for the purpose of throwing it open in England for the benefit of the public. The answer given the following day was that Parliament has placed no funds at the disposal of the Treasury from which a purchase of this description could be made.
To the Right Honorable the Lords Commissioners of Her Majestys Treasury
The Humble Memorial of Miles Berry of the Office for Patents 66 Chancery Lane London acting for and on behalf of Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre and Joseph Isidore Niepce both of Paris
That the said M Daguerre and M Niepce are the Inventors of the extraordinary process or discovery known as the Daguerreotype or the means by which Images or Reflections from Nature passing through a Lens (as the Camera Obscura) are permanently retained as Tracings or Pictures upon surfaces of Metal without the aid or skill of an artist This effect being produced by the action of Light itself upon Iodine on a Silver surface. these pictures representations or tracings being true copies of Nature however wide the field of view or minute the details of the objects and can be examined and looked into with a Magnifying Lens as we look into distant nature with a Telescope or near objects with a Microscope
That the government of France considering the importance of this discovery and the great advantage it would be to Science the Arts and Manufactures determined to reward the Inventors thereof and throw the discovery open to the People of France by purchasing the right thereto, so that it should be unfettered by individual interest or confined to individual exertions and after due consideration granted to the said M Daguerre an annual pension of 6000 Francs (£250 Sterling) and to M Niepce the annual sum of 4000 Francs (£166. 13 [shillings]. 4 [pence]. Sterling) for their lives with a reversion of one half to such annuity to their Widows and their Property in this Invention was consequently transferred to the government of France for the benefit of the French People
That previous to the Sale or Exposition of this Invention to the French Government the said M Daguerre and M Niepce intended to have applied to the British Government for a reward or remuneration for a like purpose as regards this Country but were advised that they could not with propriety be in treaty with the Government of their own Country and a Foreign one at the same time and that their proper course was to seek protection under our Patent Laws as being a sure method of securing the benefit of their Discovery in England our Patent Laws wisely and liberally sanctioning this course of proceeding by protecting the right to Inventions first communicated from persons residing abroad.
That the said Invention or Discovery was duly communicated to your Memorialist before any exposition of the same was made in France with instructions to secure Her Majestys Royal Letters Patent in his own name
That your Memorialist accordingly petitioned Her Majesty to grant the said Letters Patent and such Petition was referred to Her Majestys then Solicitor General to report thereon and after hearing all parties who had any rights to oppose the same Mr Solicitor General was pleased to report to the crown in favor of the application and Her Majestys Royal letters Patent securing the said Invention or Discovery was duly issued under the Great Seal of England bearing the 14th day of August 1839
That your Memorialist has caused a proper and sufficient Specification of the said Invention or Discovery to be inrolled in Her Majestys High Court of Chancery in compliance with the Proviso contained in the said Letters Patent.
That the said Patent is in every respect a good and valid Patent the Invention or Discovery being perfectly unknown in this Country previous to the sealing of the said Letters Patent the exposition of the same in France not taking place until some days after your Memorialist had advised his correspondents that the Patent was secured.
That since the sealing of the said Letters Patent your Memorialist has had many applications for Licences to exercise this Invention and has received numerous Letters from various part of the Kingdom on this subject; That many persons have purchased the Daguerreotype Apparatus and Instruments in France but are prevented using them in England as this would be infringing upon the said Patent right; That the application and usefulness of this Discovery to the Arts and Manufactures is unlimited but in order to gain for the Inventors a proper remuneration for the years of study labor and great expense they bestowed upon their Discovery and bringing it to its present state of perfection your Memorialist is obliged to ask so large a sum to Individuals for Licenses that few can afford to take them.
That your Memorialist is instructed & empowered by all parties interested in this matter to solicit Her Majesty or the Government of England to purchase the said Patent right for the purpose of throwing it open in England for the benefit of the Public and preventing this important Discovery being fettered or limited by individual interest or exertion
That the sum of money required for this purpose will be very small in comparison with its importance and the great advantage and usefulness it will be to our Country and the Arts Manufactures and Sciences.
Your Memorialist therefore humbly prays your Lordships to take this matter into consideration and direct such enquiry to be made as your Lordships may deem requisite and to advise your Memorialist thereon. That if necessary your Lordships will be pleased to refer this matter to the consideration of the Royal Society or any other Learned or Scientific Body or persons as you Lordships may think fit to report thereon and that your Memorialist will petition Parliament for the Grant of such sum, as may be thought proper for the purchase of the said Patent Right or do any other act or thing which your Lordships may deem requisite for attaining the object above named. That your Memorialist begs to apologize to your Lordships for the length of this Memorial but he feels that he could not do justice to this matter without laying the above statement before your Lordships. That your Memorialist has many specimens of this Invention or Process which he will submit for the inspection of your Lordships a few of which being herewith left at the Treasury Chambers
And your Memorialist as in Duty bound shall ever pray &c.
March 30th 1840
[A Treasury note appears on the reverse of last sheet of the above document as follows:]
30th March 1840
M. Berry, on behalf of Messrs Daguerre & Isidore [sic: Niepce omitted]
that Government may purchase
their Patent Right to the Invention known as
Regd 30 March 1840
Seven accompanying Specimens & Two Magnifiers
Read 31 March 1840
Inform party that
Parliament has placed no funds at the disposal of the Treasury
from which a purchase of this description could be made
The Treasury wrote to Miles Berry on 3 April to inform him of their decision: ( )
[To] Miles Berry Esq 66 Chancery Lane
Having laid before the Lords &c your application on behalf of Messrs Daguerre & Niepce, that Government would purchase their Patent Right to the Invention known as the Daguerreotype I have it in command to acquaint you that Parliament has placed no Funds at the disposal of their Lordships from which a purchase of this description could be made
3rd April 1840 [signed] A. Gordon
/ [entry in margin] Application Refused /
The wholeplate daguerreotype of High Elms house illustrated in the article The daguerreotype patent, the British Government, and the Royal Society in History of Photography, January 1980, figure 6 on p. 58 has no recorded date but is most likely August 1843.
One potential source of information about the High Elms daguerreotype is a Diary of Harriet Lubbock née Hotham (18101873), wife of Sir J. W. Lubbock covering the years 1834 to 1854. * However, no specific mention of that daguerreotype has been found in Harriets diary. It may, of course, have been taken by a professional daguerreotypist (Claudet is likely candidate, well established in his Adelaide Gallery studio since June 1841), but, as we have seen from my article and an entry (see below) in the diary for 3 August 1840, J. W. Lubbock did actually use the daguerreotype technique.
The building of the new house at High Elms began in March 1841 and the family moved in on 24th November 1842. As can be seen from the entry in Harriets diary for 28th May 1843, J. W. Lubbock was doing some sort of photography when John (then aged nine) started at Abington school. When John came home for his first holiday from school on 31st July 1843, Harriet records that we found John very fond of cricket so dear Papa kindly brought him wickets &c. In the wholeplate daguerreotype of High Elms the boy standing in front of the house is holding a cricket bat, which points to the possibility that it was taken in August 1843.
On 5 April 1992 I again had a chance to examine the High Elms wholeplate as it is now in the possession of Lyulph Lubbock (a grandson of Adelaide who has an interest in the family history). I wanted to look at the back very closely to see if any words or date was incised and indeed on the top and bottom edges very faint and very difficult to decipher marks were found that had been covered by tape binding. The top marks were still obscured in part by the remains of paper binding but was something like Keller or at least the first, third and fourth letters had high risers and so maybe could even be Lubbock?! The marking at the bottom edge is something like Sehn49, with the 4 being the most problematic and the S the clearest: and so could even have been Sept49?! The size of the plate measured eight and a half inches by six and three quarter inches, or measured in metric 17.2cm x 21.6cm. As it seems more likely that a plate would have been cut to a round figure number then the plate is likely to have been cut in England rather than France.
No entry has been found in the diary regarding the visit to Claudets studio in London in February 1851 to sit for the portrait of Harriet and J. W. Lubbock as illustrated in figs 24.
A. 1840 Aug 3rd... we have been very happy here [at Mitcham Grove] & Papa & Madlle have done many Daguerreotypes Portraits and Landscapes.
[Harriet and J. W. Lubbock and their children had been staying at his parent's home of Mitcham Grove, Mitcham, Surrey, since 3 July and then continued their holiday at Brighton on Wednesday 5 August 1840. Mademoiselle Schweyer was the governess for the Lubbock children and (according to Harriets diary) was with them for little more than seven months from 12 June 1840 to January or February 1841]
B. Some type of photography seems to have been carried out at Abington school by J. W. Lubbock on 28 May 1843 when he and Harriet took John to the school at Abington, Northampton:
1843 [28th May] JW took two nice views of the [Abington] house for me.
C. 1849 On our dear Sir Js birthday 26th [March] early in the morning I gave him a Daguerreotype of M. D. & H.. [Mary? or Montague?, Diana and Henry]
D. 1850... On the 26th [March] the children sung his birthday to wake him & at Dessert we all sang his good health. the children gave him a Daguerreotype of Rosss Picture of me & I gave him one of B [Beaumont] Alfred & Fred. Beaumont is an extraordinary boy he is so fond of study he came to St. Jamess Pl where we were then for the day to have a picture taken.
# Autograph letter from W. H. F. Herschel to L. J. M. Daguerre dated 1 August 1839, Wellcome Institute of the History of Medicine, London, Accession No.67390 entry made in February 1935: one of 191 autograph letters addressed to F. Arago and J. DeLambre [secretaries of the Paris Academy of Sciences], Vendor, Degrange, Paris, /6/30, Seine Stalls. Transcribed here by permission of the Governors of the Wellcome Trust. Most of this letter has since been quoted by Larry Schaaf, Out of the Shadows: Herschel Talbot & the Invention of Photography, New Haven and London: Yale University Press 1992, p.79.
. Public Record Office, London: Treasury Board Papers: T 1/4429/7150 (Crown Copyright record in the Public Record Office, London, transcribed here by permission of the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationary Office).
. Public Record Office, London: Treasury OutLetter Book: T 27/139, p 228. (Transcribed here by permission of the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationary Office)
* Diary of Harriet Lubbock in the possession of the late Adelaide Lubbock (ie. the Hon. Mrs Maurice Lubbock, mother of the present Lord Avebury) at High Elms ClockHouse near Farnborough, Kent) until she died in 1981, and in the 1990s held by Lyulph Lubbock, Orpington, Kent.
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