Printing Museum, Movable Type, Wood Type, Linotype, Typography, Printmaking, Letterpress, photo-engraving, engraved blocks.
Melbourne Museum of Printing
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Australia's working and teaching museum of typography and printing located at Footscray, Victoria. Specialising in retention of traditional printing, both the equipment and the knowledge.

Photo-Engraved Illustration

Engraved illustrations were firstly made by engraving or scratching the image into a metal plate. Ink would be trapped in the scratches while the flat areas were wiped clean. The scratches were the image. This is generally called intaglio [intahl'yo] printing. Adding any text was a separate operation using letterpress.

Later, illustrations were engraved in relief, that is the non-printing areas were engraved away (relieved). The intact area of the piece (usually wood) received ink and printing was similar to letterpress. Text could be printed in the same pass. This permitted newspapers to included engravings.

Following the discovery of photographic techniques, chemical engraving was developed, using a photographic negative to print a mask of the image on a flat metal plate. The mask protected the "image areas" while the etching acid removed metal from the non-image areas. Most printer's engravings in the 20th C were made this way. The plates were usually mounted "type high" on wood.

This engraving, of a cartoon by Tandberg, is a "line engraving", that is, an engraving with no tones. Halftone engravings were made the same way, with the exception that in the graphic art camera a "halftone screen" stood in front of the film, dividing the incoming image into millions of dots whose size varied with the intensity of the light. In turn, these dots on the negative produce tiny islands of raised metal (for highlights) or tiny holes in flat areas (for near-solids).

MMOP's collection of engravings runs to tens of thousands (some more interesting than others) from dozens of printers around Victoria. Considerable research will be required to properly document them, including quality proof-prints from each one.

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