Fox Talbot, Nelson's Column under construction, Trafalgar Square c. 1844
Willian Henry Fox Talbot’s photographic rival, Louis Daguerre, made beautiful artifacts that shimmer and come alive in the hand, but are a complete dead-end, for they cannot be duplicated or reproduced, shared or distributed. Fox Talbot’s genius, quite apart from developing the chemistry, was in understanding that the negative image was far from being a problem, and actually the solution to further reproductions.
The image above was taken in late March or early April 1844, dated by the advert for the Theatre Royal Lyceum, for the show “Open Sesame”. This poster can be seen on the hoardings just before the “NO” for “No bills to be stuck to this hoarding” - that has clearly been an issue for longer than I thought.
A fabulous time machine of a picture and I beseech you to click on it to enlarge or head over to Getty to see even larger versions so you can zoom right in - their copy is in particularly fine condition. The version at SFMOMA is considerably faded.