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ISO: History of Image Plates

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I am trying to find the history of the printed picture i.e. Stone, Wood, Lead Block, Lead plate nail mounted, Brass plate nail mounted, Zinc plate nail mounted, Zinc plate glued mounted, and Polymer plate glue mounted. Is there any history for this? —Peter Merrill



  1. Paul Moxon, Website Editor 8 October, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    The process is called photoengraving.While stone is not a material used and photopolymer is a fairly new process, lead, copper, zinc and magnesium plates were the metals used since the late nineteenth- and throughout twentieth-century. There are a handful of companies that still make copper and magnesium plates. For an historical overview look at the Encylopedia Britannica or Wikipedia articles. You will find many books on the various processes. One important title is Modern Photoengraving; a Practical Textbook on Latest American Procedures by Louis Flader and J.S. Mertle, 1948.

  2. Re: the question about the history of what artists call ‘print matrices’ and book folk call ‘printing surfaces’: there isn’t yet an all-in-one-place overview, but research is stating to coalesce. Antony Griffiths’, Bamber Gasgoine’s, and Susan Lambert’s classic books on how to identify and describe Prints is the closest proxy for historical material. The programme of a conference I convened on the topic two weeks ago includes abstracts of the 40 presentations of projects-in-progress on the topic, . At the link there is also information about an open access research framework that derives from this, forthcoming next spring. With more coming soon, so watch this space!

  3. That you for the reply. This does give me a better picture of the photoengraving process. But what I am looking for is the time line when each of the following materials were used especially relating to the “type High” materials they were secured to. I have the following photoengravings:
    1. Lead type high halftone photoengraved lead block.
    2. Lead photoengraved halftone plate mounted to a type high wood block with nails.
    3. Brass photoengraved halftone plate mounted to a type high wood block with nails.
    4. Zinc photoengraved halftone plate mounted to a type high wood block with nails.
    5. Zinc photoengraved plate mounted to a type high wood block with glue.
    6. Polymer halftone plate mounted to a type high wood block with glue.
    I would like to know the timeline that these were used.
    I would love to attend your programs, but as I am in TN and you are in London, I don’t see that happening, but thank you again for your reply.

  4. What’s wrong with you people? have none of you heard of or are you unwilling to acknowledge the technology called lithography, invented in 1798 by Alois Senefelder and used extensively for publication of images as well as text through the nineteenth, twentieth, and into the twenty first century? Why are print historians so letterpress centric?

  5. Paul Moxon, Website Editor 21 December, 2017 at 9:26 pm

    I now recognize that I did dismiss the term stone in the query. A glaring oversight for someone with lithography experience. I was too focused on the nails. Perhaps it’s because I’m a letterpress printer and primarily focused on texts. But Tom’s point is well-taken.

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