A race is on to find u00a31m needed to ensure public access to the treasured personal archive of William Henry Fox Talbot, a collection currently in private hands.


Photo: William Fox Henry Talbot – ¾ profile – ‘hair up, collar up’
Collodian negative on glass, ca. 1858. Picture credit: Fox Talbot Archive, courtesy of Hans P Kraus Jr

The Bodleian Libraries, the main research library at the University of Oxford, says it must raise £1m by the end of next month to meet the £2.2m purchase price required.

The Libraries have already been awarded £1.2m by the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF).

Speaking today, a Bodleian Libraries spokesperson told Amateur Photographer that no further money has been raised since the appeal was launched just over a week ago.

The collection is owned by the family, but it is now with a dealer in New York who is selling it on their behalf.

The archive is the ‘only significant Talbot collection remaining in private hands,’ according to the university.

‘It includes the first book illustrated with photographs, some of which are pictures of Oxford, as well as family diaries, early letters and, possibly the first photograph taken by a woman.’

Photographers who have so far pledged support include Hiroshi Sugimoto who said that acquisition by the university would ‘ensure that scholars, artists, photographers and the general public can have access to the mass of papers, sketchbooks, photographs and artefacts that it contains – to promote our understanding and appreciation of this great innovator…’.

NHMF chief executive Carole Souter said: ‘Considered by many as the “father of photography”, the impact of William Henry Fox Talbot’s pioneering work is felt daily by all of us, whether we are snapping our holidays with a camera or capturing outings on our mobile phones.’

For details of how to make a donation visit http://www.giving.ox.ac.uk/libraries/fox_talbot_archive.html