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  Romain Talbot

Charles Romain Talbot was born in Malmedy, Belgium on August 9, 1827. His first photographic equipment business opened in Paris, at 50 Rue d’Enghien, in 1855, but by 1868 was operating at 32 Faubourg Poissonière. Mr. Talbot initially stocked Voigtländer lenses, but he so admired Steinheil that he became one of the first importers in France of these superior quality lenses. So popular were they that Steinheil ultimately replaced the existing Voigtländer inventory. Based upon Mr. Talbot’s last dated Paris letter of December 15, 1869, the Franco-Prussian War the following year prompted a permanent personal and professional relocation to Berlin, at 46 Kaiser Wilhelm Strasse.

Mr. Talbot was respected throughout Europe not only as an astute businessman, but for his improvements to equipment, paper, and developing. For example, to compensate for the less luminous artificial light, he championed a change from nitro-glucose paper preparing to a preparation with iodide of potassium and arrowroot, and then sensitized in a bath of aceto-nitrate of silver, could be utilized immediately, and produce finely-toned proofs in about ten minutes. He also perfected the processes of negative preservation and retouching, developed several varieties of papers (including Delta), designed a retouching desk, and introduced an aplanatic apparatus to produce impressive photo enlargements. In 1885, his Berlin headquarters moved to 10 Brüderstraße, where Mr. Talbot became the sole German agent for the Eastern Kodak Dry Plate and Film Company. The company also featured elaborate showrooms and a fully-equipped darkroom for amateur photographers. He published the comprehensive volume, Die Amateur Photographie, in 1891, which was written by Robert Talbot, his son and business partner. By the end of the nineteenth century, Mr. Talbot had increased his inventory to include his own inexpensive line of folding cameras (fitted with Orthostigmat lenses), studio cameras, portable Esseman Klapp quarter-plate size cameras, ferrotype plates, autotype plates, and Wellington films and papers.

By 1905, the aging entrepreneur was ready for retirement, and the patriarch proudly turned over the business into the capable hands of sons Robert and Maurice (but still did business under the name of “Romain Talbot”). The senior Talbot died in 1909, but his wholesale business remained alive and well for several more years, as evidenced by the introduction of the Err-Tee Button Tintype Camera in 1912, which has since become a popular collectable.

2015 Archive of Original Correspondence (URL:

1875 The Chemistry of Light and Photography (New York: D. Appleton and Company), pp. 25, 30.

1889 A Dictionary of Photography for the Amateur and Professional Photographer by E. J. Wall (London: Hazell, Watney, & Viney, Ltd.), p. 50.

2014 Err-Tee Button Tintype Camera by Romain Talbot (URL:

1869 The Illustrated Photographer, Vol. I (London: Edmund Dring), p. 111.

1889 The International Annual of Anthony's Photographic Bulletin, Vol. II (New York: E. & H. T. Anthony & Co.), p. 50.

1890 The International Annual of Anthony's Photographic Bulletin, Vol. III (New York: E. & H. T. Anthony & Co.), p. 128.

2000 New Dimensions in Photo Processes: A Step by Step Manual by Laura Blacklow (Boston: Focal Press), p. 107.

1870 The Photographic Art Journal, Vol. I. (London: Sampson, Low, Son & Marston), pp. 3, 30.

1901 The Photographic Dealer and D. & P. Trade Review, Vol. XI (London: Photographic Dealer, Ltd.), pp. 107-108.

1890 The Photographic Journal of America, Vol. XXVII (New York: Edward L. Wilson), p. 756.

1867 Photographic Optics (London: Robert Hardwicke), p. 258.

1891 Photographic Times and American Photographer, Vol. XXI (New York: Scovill Manufacturing Co.), p. 543.

1870 Scientific Opinion, Vol. III (London: Cox & Wyman), p. 447.

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2019-08-11 10:25:06

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