Guarantee & Returns
Colouring & cleaning
Images on these pages
~ Related Websites ~
Over 5,000 hand printed and coloured etchings and engravings from original, mostly antique, intaglio printing plates.
Information - Printing Methods
A fairly simple process dating back to at least medieval times.
The design is drawn onto a block of smooth seasoned softwood and
then with a knife the cutter removes the unwanted areas of block,
leaving just the design to be reproduced as raised areas. This
is then inked by hand or roller and paper applied with light pressure
in a press. This method was used for most early book illustrations
during the fifteenth and into the sixteenth centuries.
Due to a shortage of good copper plates and a lack of skilled engravers woodcuts were also used for some early maps, such as those by Munster and some of the editions of 'Ptolomy's Geographia'. Often, hybrid woodblocks would be used, with metal type set in holes in the the woodblock for areas of text.
This is an enlarged section (about 1 inch across) showing the Gloucester and Hereford area of Sebastian Munster's "Beschreibung Engellandts und Schottlandts", 1578.
Developed during the eighteenth century, this method used a block of hardwood instead of softwood as the base, boxwood being the most popular. The wood was engraved on the hard end-grain with tools similar to those used for line engraving on metal, with hardwood far more delicate detail could be produced and the block was longer lasting. Often wood engravings can be detected by the way the printed lines are impressed into the paper.
Thomas Berwick was the first great master of wood engraving during the late 18th century in Britain and is credited with founding the English school of wood engraving. This is a detail from one of his more elaborate cuts.
Wood engraver's tools after an
illustration in T. H. Feilding's Art of Engraving are shown
on the right. Thay are (a) square lozenge, (b) extreme lozenge,
(c) tint tool, (d) flat, or blocking out tools, or chisels.
In contrast to these hurried, but
interesting, journalistic images there were some very attractive
wood engravings of high quality produced during the mid 19th century.
This is a print (about actual size) from Birket Foster's 'Pictures
of English Landscape', engraved by the very competent Dalziel
brothers, published in 1863. Below is a highly enlarged portion
of the sky, showing the wood engraver's free technique of handling
© 2003-2018 Website and images copyright Steve Bartrick, unauthorised reproduction is prohibited