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Steel engraving Language Watch Edit This article includes a list of general references but it remains largely unverified because it lacks sufficient corresponding inline citations Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations January 2012 Learn how and when to remove this template message Steel engraving is a technique for printing illustrations based on steel instead of copper It has been rarely used in artistic printmaking although it was much used for reproductions in the 19th century Steel engraving was introduced in 1792 by Jacob Perkins 1766 1849 an American inventor for banknote printing When Perkins moved to London in 1818 the technique was adapted in 1820 by Charles Warren and especially by Charles Heath 1785 1848 for Thomas Campbell s Pleasures of Hope which contained the first published plates engraved on steel 1 The new technique only partially replaced the other commercial techniques of that time such as wood engraving copper engraving and later lithography Detail of the image below click to enlarge further Landing of Columbus engraved by the BEP based on Vanderlyn s 1847 painting This vignette was used as the back of the Series 1875 5 National Bank Note Contents 1 Process 2 19th century 3 Mechanical tools 4 See also 5 Notes 6 References 7 External linksProcess Edit Baptism of Pocahontas engraved by Charles Burt for the BEP based on Chapman s 1840 painting This vignette was used as the back of the Series 1875 20 National Bank Note Confusingly the printmaking technique used in steel engravings is after the earliest years in the 1820s normally a combination of etching and true engraving with etching becoming dominant in later examples after the technique became popular again in the 1830s Engraving is done with a burin which is a small bar of hardened steel with a sharp point It is pushed along the plate to produce thin furrowed lines leaving burr or strips of waste metal to the side This is followed by the use of a scraper to remove any burs since they would be an impediment during the subsequent inking process Steel plates are very hard for this technique which is normally used on softer copper plates So steel engraving also used etching where acid creates the lines in the plates in the pattern made by selectively removing a thin coating of acid resistant ground by tools This is much less effort As well as etching needles the etched part of steel engravings made great use of roulettes small wheels mounted in handles which have regular sharp projections which produce broken lines of dots and dashes when rolled across the plate Roulettes of different types were used together with the burin and needle to create densely packed marks which appear as tonal to the eye and allow a great variety of textures and effects True burin engraving was generally used to finish the etched image 2 First a broad general outline is made on the plate before starting the detailed image Engraving will produce a printed reverse or mirror image of the image on the plate Sometimes engravers looked at the object usually another image such as a drawing that they were engraving through a mirror so that the image was naturally reversed and they would be less likely to engrave the image incorrectly 3 Steel plates can be case hardened to ensure that they can print thousands of times with little wear The copper plates used in traditional engraving and etching which are softer and so much easier to work cannot be case hardened but can be steel faced or nickel plated by electroplating to increase the number of impressions that could be printed From about 1860 the steel facing of copper plates became widely used and such prints tend also to be called steel engravings It can be very difficult to distinguish between engravings on steel and steel faced copper other than by date 4 The most reliable way of distinguishing between unfaced copper engraving and steel or steel faced engraving is the lightness and delicacy of the pale lines in the latter The hardness of the plate surface made it possible to print a good number of impressions without the metal of the plate wearing the lines out under the pressure of repeated intaglio printing which would have happened with unfaced copper So A shimmering pale grey became for the first time a possibility in line engraving and it is this that provides the most recognizable characteristic of steel beside the heavier and warmer mood of copper 5 19th century Edit Trinity College Cambridge View from St John s College Old Bridge c 1840 steel engraving was much used for decorative topographical prints such as this by John Le Keux Until around 1820 copper plates were the common medium used for engraving Copper being a soft metal was easy to carve or engrave and the plates could be used to strike a few hundred copies before the image began to severely deteriorate from wear Engravers then reworked a worn plate by retracing the previous engraving to sharpen the image again Another advantage to using copper is that it is a soft metal and can be corrected or updated with a reasonable amount of effort For this reason copper plates were the preferred medium of printing for mapmakers who needed to alter their maps whenever land was newly discovered claimed or changed hands During the 1820s steel began to replace copper as the preferred medium of commercial publishers for illustration but still rivaled by wood engraving and later lithography Steel engraving produced plates with sharper harder more distinct lines Also the harder steel plates produced much longer wearing dies that could strike thousands of copies before they would need any repair or refurbishing engraving The hardness of steel also allowed for much finer detail than would have been possible with copper which would have quickly deteriorated under the resulting stress As the nineteenth century began to close devices such as the ruling machine made even greater detail possible allowing for more exact parallel lines in very close proximity Commercial etching techniques also gradually replaced steel engraving All the illustrations in the Encyclopaedia Britannica of 1911 are steel engravings citation needed Steel engraving is still done today but to a much lesser extent Today most printing is done using computerized stencils instead of a steel plate to transfer ink An exception is currency which is still printed using steel dies since each bill then has a character and feel that is very difficult for counterfeiters to duplicate An engraved plate causes the ink to be slightly raised and the paper to be slightly depressed which produces a different haptic sensation than does paper printed by a stencil ink transfer process Mechanical tools EditFrom the beginning of the nineteenth century new tools made engraving much easier and more exact The ruling machine created parallel straight or wavy lines very close together usually for use with etching 6 Another of these tools is the geometric lathe The lathe is used to engrave images on plates which are in turn engraved on rolls for such uses as printing banknotes Another of these tools is the engraving machine This machine uses a master template to lightly engrave a duplicate image which can be then engraved by hand or etched with acid The machine also makes possible the reduction or enlargement of the letter for the duplicate image See also EditWikimedia Commons has media related to Steel engravings Engraving Line engravingNotes Edit Charles Heath walterscott lib ed ac uk Griffiths 39 Gascoigne 13a b Griffiths 152 Gascoigne 55 f g Gascoigne 55 h Griffiths 152References EditGascoigne Bamber How to Identify Prints A Complete Guide to Manual and Mechanical Processes from Woodcut to Inkjet 1986 2nd Edition 2004 Thames amp Hudson ISBN 050023454X Antony Griffiths Prints and Printmaking British Museum Press in UK 2nd edn 1996 ISBN 071412608X Bartrick Steve Copper amp steel engraving explained Retrieved 2008 09 21 Salade Robert F 1917 Plate Printing and Die Stamping New York Oswald Company Allingham Philip V 2001 01 13 The Technologies of Nineteenth Century Illustration Woodblock Engraving Steel Engraving and Other Processes Victorian Web Retrieved 2008 09 21 External links EditPrinting Methods at antiqueprints comRetrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title Steel engraving amp oldid 1009726154, wikipedia, wiki, book,

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