The future of the personal archive of British photography inventor William Henry Fox Talbot is u2018secureu2019, according to a key figure in the campaign to save it.
The news – which emerged on Fox Talbot’s 214th birthday – means the treasures can be digitised and used as a future resource for photo-history scholars, artists, photographers and the public.
In 2012, Oxford University’s Bodleian Libraries launched an appeal to raise £1m to acquire the collection which had been transferred to a dealer in New York with a view to selling it on the family’s behalf.
The collection includes the work of Fox Talbot’s contemporaries who shared with him their attempts at early photography, plus artifacts from the Lacock Abbey estate in Wiltshire where he lived at the time of the publication of his invention in 1839.
Michael Pritchard, director general of the Royal Photographic Society, was among prominent figures lending support to the campaign, alongside renowned photographer Martin Parr and the artist David Hockney.
Writing on the British photographic history blog, Pritchard said that the Bodleian Libraries held a reception on Tuesday (Fox Talbot’s 214th birthday) to thank the campaign’s supporters and donors.
‘The library has a small amount to find before an August deadline and will be holding a fundraising auction in conjunction with Sotheby’s at the beginning of May,’ wrote Pritchard.
‘It has plans to digitise much of the archive and it will be made available to researchers and the public.’
The appeal led to the inadvertent discovery of 42 ‘previously unknown’ early photogenic drawings by Fox Talbot.
Last year, Amateur Photographer reported that campaigners needed to raise the remaining £375,000 to ensure it remained in the UK.
The original target was £2.2 million but they had already won a £200,000 donation from the Art Fund and £1.2m from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.
A spokesperson for the Bodleian Libraries could not be reached for comment at the time of writing.