Twyman 2001

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Twyman, Michael. Breaking the Mould : The First Hundred Years of Lithography. London: British Library, 2001.

“the feature of lithography that was most commonly remarked upon in the earliest accounts of the process: that lithographs are not reproductions but multiplied originals” (5-6) — footnote goes to Henry Banker’ treatise, Lithography, or, the art of making drawings on stone, for the purpose of being multiplied by printing (1813)

“lithography made it possible for words, pictures, and other graphic marks to be produced together using precisely the same technology” (8)

Journal, Le Lithography, between 1838 and 1848

French manuals on lithography in later decades of 19c: Lemercier, La Lithographie française de 1796 a 1896 (1898) and Lorilleux et Cie, Traite de lithographie (1889)

“The starting point for the spread of lithography was a notice, which Senefelder inserted in the Munchner Zeitung on 26 September 1799 to announce the grant of a patent for his inventioil. 42 This was seen by Johann Anton Andre, who was then in his mid twenties and hadjust taken over the family musicpublishing house in Offenbach. He wasted no time in contacting Senefelder, and within months had persuaded him to travel to Offenbach to set up a lithographic workshop alongside the firm's existing intaglio presses. As far as one can tell, the first lithographic products came off Andre's presses at the beginning of 1800.” (16)

One of earliest projects in lithography was to make “important facsimiles of documents, including a reproduction, made in 1808, of one of the earliest pieces of letterpress printing” (17)

“The spread of lithography in the German states beyond Offenbach and Munich was rapid: by the close of 1810 presses had been set up in at least ten other centres, and by 1820 in over thirty. 51 The publication of a small handbook on lithography, Das Geheimniss des Steindrucks, written by Heinrich Rapp, seems to have provided a turning point in the understanding of the process for those who had not been trained by Senefelder.” (18)

“Almost from its outset lithogra ph y revealed this curious dichotomy of applications, On th e one hand it was seen as a process for artists, who could draw on stone with something of the facility that they could draw on paper. On the other it was seen as a duplicating process, fulfilling much the same role as high-street Copying does today.” (22-3)

Interest in transmitting text in non-Latin characters

“Before 1820 it was only really in Munich that the term lithographic trade would have made any kind of sense. In Paris and London it was not until the early to mid 1820S that the trade began to emerge, and in most other European centres, and in the British provinces too, the trade developed a decade or so later.” (24)

“A study of lithographic printers in Paris reveals, as in London, tentative growth in the early 1820S, but whereas London had some 70 lithographic printers in 1839, Paris, with half London's population at the time, had over 300. A comparison of the number of letterpress, lithographic, and intaglio printing houses in Paris from the early 1820S to 1890 reveals the extent to which lithography came to dominate the scene at least as far as number of firms are concerned “ (28)

“Bordeaux and Lyon emerged as the leading centres, both haVing approximately twice as many lithographic firms as letterpress ones.” (31)

Half the speed of iron platen letterpress

“After the mechanization oflithographic printing, initially in the 18sos with the Sigl machine,115 but more generally in the following decades, lithography began to compete with letterpress at the machining stage, though at no point in the nineteenth century did it achieve the speeds of reel-fed letterpress rotary machines used for printing large-circulation newspapers from the mid I 860s.” (46)

“However, the real limitation on the take-up oflithography for certain kinds of work was its lack of a graphically authoritative means of originating text that could compete with type in its regularity of form and spacing. The manufacture of type lay at the heart ofGutenberg's invention, and over the centuries letterforms and text matter had evolved through the combined contributions of type manufacturers and printers in such a way as to govern reader expectations. Almost from the outset of lithography typeset matter could be transferred to stone using transfer paper as an intermediary,116 but this additional production stage inevitably put lithography at a disadvantage when compared with letterpress printing - and one that remained until the commercial realization of photocomposition shortly after the Second World War.” (46)

2 Making the marks

Mark-making: doing the drawing that will be printed

“From Gutenberg's time onwards relief printers have shown a predilection for verbal messages, whereas intaglio printers, even when working commercially, have tended to concentrate on pictorial and decorative work. Lithography positioned itself between these two trades, partly out of commercial necessity, and partly because of the opportunities it offered for working with both words and pictures, often in combination with one another.” (63)

Hatching and crosshatching used in engraving continued to be used as techniques for gradient in lithography (70)

“The earliest lithographic writers and letterers were so accomplished that it seems likely that they were recruited from the ranks of intaglio engravers, who would already have had the skills and judgement needed to form letters and organize them on the page. By this time the finest of the writing masters belonged to the past,35 but their legacy was a strong tradition of what is commonly called copperplate writing, which influenced the whole of Europe, and America too, well into the nineteenth century.” (88)

“Lithographic writers could have tried to emulate type, but only occasionally did they do so. Relatively rare examples of lithography in which type has been imitated successfully are the text pages of the 'Uncle Buncle' series of toy books published in England by Dean & Munday in the early 1840S43 and the title pages of some of Pit man's shorthand publications of the 1840s.” (89)

“This situ ation changed , parti ularly in France in th e , 840s, partly as a co nsequ ence of a series o f articl es about the process, ll suall y called 'T ypo lithogra phi e' ,47 th at appea red in th e trade j ourn al Le Lithographe. Th ese articl es - part histori cal, part practi cal - revea led a co nce rn to combin e th e benefits of th e two co mpetin g technologies. French lithogra ph ers seem to have been th e first to see typo/ith ogmphie as central to th eir trade, th o ugh by th e close of th e nin eteenth century it had become common wh erever lith ography was bein g pra ctised comm ercially.” (92)

“it was not until the second half of the 18 30S - partly in response to what was happening in relation to other printing processes - that colour printing by lithography came into its own. It was in this period that the word chromolithography was coined.” (102)

“The conceptual breakthrough came with Engelmann's Album chromo-lithographique of around 1838, which provided examples of the techniques he had patented in the previous year in France. 74 BUilding on work described by Le Blon in his Coloritto of 1756 in ~elation to the mezzotint process,75 Engelmann demonstrated that It Was possible to produce tolerable colour prints by lithography Using just three or four colours in different strengths and com~inations.” (103)

How to split an image into separate colors? “Decisions of this kind were taken by someone I shall call a Visualiser, though he must, I imagine, have had to work within Cost constraints established by the estimating department. The ~isualiser's role required extraordinary conceptual skills and Judgement, though over the years the collective experience of such craftsmen would have made the individual's task easier.” (105)

“A central piece of documentation produced for all chromolithographers would have been what are known as progressives - sets of proofs recording each colour separately and its effect on the cumulative production. Progressives would have been produced at the proofing stage as a guide to the printer, both for the initial print run and for any reprint needed.” (108)

“Leaving aside type - which remained the greatest asset of the letterpress printer - relief surfaces were relatively deficient in both the subtlety and range of their markmaking facilities. On the other hand, intaglio printing, though it offered a good range of mark-making failed to adapt itself satisfactorily to either colour or machine production in the second half of the century.” (110)

3 The products and their users

“Others issuing pi cto rial prints includ e those who published reprodu ctions of works of art and publishers of religious prints. Publishing of the first kind started on a grand sca le in bthography with two ambitious se ri es of reprodu ctions of works in Ba va ri an ga ll eries, which were issued in Muni ch und er th e direction of J. C. Von Mannlich from 1810.” (122-3)

Religious lithographs for middle class homes

“Main-line book publishers made Llse of lith ography from the 1820S for monochrome illustrations in books, a Ijttle later for gift books and decorated covers and boards, and by the end of the njneteenth century for large-circulation chromolithographed books.” (127)

“By th e mjddle o f th e centu ry publishe rs of gift books and books o n the decorative arts had begun to explore the seductive e ffects o f chrom o lithogra phy, and th erea fter m any colourprinted bo oks we re issued by, am o ng o th ers, Lo n gm an and D ay & Son in Lo ndo n . ' 4 Th e btter, th e leading chro m olithographi c ho use in Britain in th e middl e o f th e century , was respo nsible for m any elabo rate publi ca tions, in cl udin g O we n J o nes's rnmlllar cif om!lmelll (1 85 6).” (128)

Theodore de Vinne described some texts as “difficult composition”: things that are hard to set in letterpress, like tables (144)

Ryde’s hydraulic tables (1851) — sues lithography to print tables with diameter of pipes, their discharge perminute in gallons, etc. (149); “The precedent for the design was the medieval canon table.” (149)

“The requirements of accounting, with its historic emphasis on calligraphy and on what letterpress printers would have regarded as difficult 'rule' work, led to the widespread use of lithography for books on accounting. One of the earliest and finest of these publications was Feignaux's Cours theorique et pratique de tenue de livres en parties doubles (Brussels, 1827) which included a splendid folding 'Tableau synoptique'.39 This custom of using lithography for documents requiring rules, even modest billheads and account books, survived well into the twentieth century.” (149)

“The possibilities for this kind of work were explored most widely in chronological charts, such as the one shown in figure 106, which was lithographed, hand-coloured, and published in Manchester in 1835. In common with other chronological charts it shares some characteristics with maps, though in its use of organic shapes it almost manages to disguise itself as an anatomical illustration. Of all such chronologies, the one that demonstrated the capabilities of lithography for diagramming time perhaps more than any other was a chart from the late nineteenth century, Chronological chart if ancient, modern and biblical history, which represents time on the horizontal axis and includes numerous pictorial elements. It was devised by Sebastian C. Adams in 1871, when it was registered at the Library of Congress, but continued to appear, updated and with different titles, in both America and Britain until around 1900.44 Over twenty feet long, and designed to run round the walls of classrooms, it was printed in colour, varnished, and folded in concertina fashion within cloth-covered boards.” (153)

“I have referred several times to the fact that lithography's greatest limitation as an all-purpose printing process lay in its lack of an authoritative looking means of presenting text matter. But even here there were exceptions. The first category of text-based document in which lithography was seen to have had the edge over letterpress printing involved texts for which no types were yet available.” (153)

“As early as 1816, the second edition of the first English manual on lithography, Henry Bankes's Lithography; or, the art of taking impressions from drawings and writing made on stone, stressed the value of the process for the reproduction of non-Latin texts. And a couple of years later a small book by the Rev. George Hunt, Specimens of lithography (London, 1819), which I referred to in my first lecture (see figure 17), was written specifically to promote the use of the process for the reproduction of non-Latin texts.” (155)

“In Europe it was the Egyptologists, inspired by the discovery of the Rosetta Stone in 1799, who turned to the process most frequently. There was scarcely a scholar of note who wrote about Egyptian texts in the first half of the nineteenth century who did not make use of lithography, including the two main contenders in the race to decipher hieroglyphs, Thomas Young in England and Jean Michcl ChampoJlion in France.” (155)

Examples of books trying to figure out how to include hieroglyphics alongside Latin-alphabet texts

“The problem of printing languages that did not make use of the Latin alphabet was not so very different from that faced by Isaac Pitman when promoting his system of shorthand. He was the most prolific publisher of lithographed books in nineteenthcentury Britain, producing over sixty such publications between 1842 and the end of the century. 50 As early as 18,52 he was able to claim that he had personally written out on transfer paper as many as 4800 pages of phonography for his publications,51 including a range of journals for different readerships and many standard literary and biblical texts.” (158)

“Outside Europe, and particularly in the Middle East and South East Asia - where the use of the term non-Latin has to be considered bizarre, if not offensive -lithography came into its own for the production of text matter. In many parts of the world where type did not exist for indigenous scripts, and where there were few letterpress printers, lithography became the orthodox process for the multiplication of documents. In the Muslim world it also had the advantage of respecting calligraphic traditions and religious conventions. 52 A colophon printed on a lithographed Quran, printed in Palembang in South East Asia in 1848, underlines this point. The whole colophon runs to two pages, and begins in translation as follows: 'this holy Quran was printed by [a] lithographic press, that is to say on a stone press in the handwriting of the man of God Almighty, Haji Muhammad Azhari son of Kemas Haji Abdullah, resident of Palembang, follower of the Shafi'i school, of the Ash'arite conviction .. :.” (158

“For practical, economic, cultural, and religious reasons therefore, lithographic book production became the nornl in many areas of the Middle East and South East Asia. Graham Shaw makes the point that the introduction of lithography to India in the 1820S had a greater impact on the history of printing in South Asia than the arrival of letterpress printing there in the 15 50S.” (158)

“Sprenger's estimate suggests that by the middle of the century lithographic book production on the Indian subcontinent alone may have dwarfed that of Europe.” (160)

“The other area of text production in which lithography gained a strong foothold involved the use of transfer paper and came to be known in France as autographie, that is, writing on transfer paper, usually in a cursive hand.” — mostly in “utilitarian jobbing work, such as circulars, forms, notices, bullheads, bills of lading, and routine publicity” (160)

“Lithography came along at just the right time to take advantage of the mania for collecting autographs, which began in the late eighteenth century. 58 Though a few intaglio facsimiles of autographs are to be found, by the middle of the 1820S lithography had become the obvious way of reproducing such work throughout Europe. 59 Engelmann and Hullmandel both chose to illustrate hand-written documents in their treatises,60 even though their target readership was specifically artists. Lithography was also used for plates of works on palaeography,” (162)

“Amon g the ea dj est of his collections of facsimiles was A /./togmplt letters, ehameten'stic extracts and signatllres, from the eorrespondel1ce of illllstrious alld distingllished II10men of Great Britaill, whi ch his firm originated , printed, and published in London in T838 .62 N ethercLift's experience as a li thographic writer and printer of facsimiles later led hjm to become an ackn owledged expert in the detection of forged documents . 1i3 The most ambitious of all such coll ections of lithographed facsimi les of handwritte n documents is a Frenc h publicatio n, /so,Qraphie des ItolJlmes celebres, w hi ch was produced in Paris in four volumes by Th.Delarue between r828 and 1830, and in an enlarged editio n in J 843.” (164)

Small in-house presses marketed by Senefleder around Paris (166)

“Lithography also suffered from the baggage it carried from its early days as a cheap and inferior method of printing. For some customers it was simply not proper printing. It lacked the physicality of other methods: the impression left by letterpress printing and the tactile effect of the ink and plate-mark in intaglio work. For a variety of reasons, therefore, lithography was rarely used for prestigious categories of work.” (173)

“If we look at nineteenth-century lithography in the broadest possible way and consider the extent to which it can be said to have broken the mould of printing, I would argue that the following points can be made. First, and most importantly, it succeeded in challenging the traditional branches of the printing trade to the point of outstripping intaglio printing in many parts of Europe in the second half of the nineteenth century, and of outnumbering letterpress houses in Paris and some other large French towns. Secondly, it encompassed an extraordinary range of pictorial effects, beginning with monochrome crayon work and ending with stipple and mechanical tints in chromolithography. Thirdly, it involved lay people in the production process: artists who had no training in printmaking; authors who originated their own texts; people with a respectable hand who could write on transfer p~per and produce personalized documents. Fourthly, it led to design innovations, including a wide range of new display letterforms and what was almost certainly the first asymmetric page design in the history of the printed book. And lastly, it led to the making of convincing facsimiles of documents, first by hand, and later by using photographic methods.” (173)

“If I were to characterize nineteenth-century lithography even more broadly than I have done here, I would describe it as an intermediate technology between the secure world of letterpress printing and the graphically uncertain and adventurous world of the electronic media.” (173)

“In the electronic world, type is no longer something you hold in your hand: it is digital and virtual. What is more, the limitations imposed on making and arranging words and pictures digitally are negligible and - in theory - the technology is available to all who can afford it. The place of nineteenth-century lithography in this scenario now becomes clearer. Though its mark-making remained a physical act, its printing surface was planographic and two-dimensional: its marks can hardly be described as virtual, but in reality they existed as nothing more than greasy traces that had been absorbed by a stone or plate. More significantly, the disposition of words and pictures in lithography released designers from a technology that favoured horizontal arrangements within rectangular shapes. In addition, as we have seen, lay people could and did make a contribution to some kinds of documents, particularly as originators of text. In several ways, therefore, lithography can be said to have prepared us for the electronic media.” (174)

“Traditional bibliography (descriptive bibliography in particular) is rooted in letterpress technology. It has not yet shown itself capable of handling the wide diversity of lithographic products of the nineteenth century, let alone electronic ones of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.” (175)

— much of what is true about electronic documents is prefigured by lithography