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ISO: Medal to Halftone Block

From the Contact Form:

I’m on the trail of a 1792 Washington peace medal that is related to archaeological research I have been involved with in western PA at the request of the Seneca Nation of Indians. We have indications that a surviving 1792 peace medal was cast in 1916 in Millvillage, PA, perhaps in plaster, before being turned into a metal dye (or is block the proper term?) for making a halftone print. 

Not knowing really anything about the printing process of the period but appreciating the high level of detail rendered in the dyes made from the original medal, I have the following questions:

    1. Is going from a plaster cast of the original medal to make a metal die (two in this case, one for each face of the medal) for printing a likely process in 1916 for producing such a printed halftone as seen in the photo?
    2. Would there have been a way to (or even a desire by the printer to), reduce the size of the original medal to produce the surviving dyes that are only some 9 cm long? I ask this critical part because the original peace medal was likely 12-13 cm long, so larger than the surviving dye/blocks, and it’s hard for me to wrap my head around how the original medal could’ve been cast, then reduced 3 cm to make such a fine, high-resolution printing block.

Any observations or insights that you might be able to offer would be hugely appreciated. Directions to appropriate sources or references for me to improve my understanding of the process ca. 1916 are equally welcome.

With much appreciation for your time and assistance, 

Edward A. Jolie, Ph.D., RPA
Clara Lee Tanner Associate Curator of Ethnology (Arizona State Museum) and Associate Professor (School of Anthropology), University of Arizona

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