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date: 27 November 2020

copperplate engraving 

Source:
The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature
Author(s):

Daniel Hahn

The most popular medium for fine book illustration in the 17th and 18th cents. The line is cut into a smooth metal plate, generally copper until the 19th cent., but sometimes another metal such as steel or zinc, and the waste or ‘burr’ is scratched up by the graver or burin, then removed. (Another technique, dry-point, leaves the burr to contribute to the finished impression.) Ink is then pressed on to the whole plate, into all the lines and other excisions, but is afterwards wiped off the smooth unengraved surface so that only the excised parts print, a process generically known as ‘intaglio’. From an early stage, intaglio impressions were also made by etching, the excision of the design by acid after scratching it through an acid-resisting film on the metal plate. Engraving and etching were often combined, so that it becomes hard to distinguish between an engraving in which (for speed) the first outlines were etched, and an etching that has been given some final touches with a graver.... ...

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