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What are prints?
Our collection consists mainly of 18th century engravings and 19th century lithographs. Before photography, these were methods of printing and publishing. With the discovery of America, and explorers traveling around the globe, many of our botanical, and “creatures” prints were ways to show the people new species of birds, animals, and plants that they had never seen before. The prints often came from books that were published and distributed for these purposes.
Many of them used the engraving technique and ours are all hand-colored after engraving. Common terms you may see on our prints include “del.” “fecit.” “pinxit.” “exec.” and other Latin abbreviations followed by a name in the right-hand and left-hand corners of the prints. The left-hand side is usually the artist or creator of the picture. The right-hand side is often the publisher, the printer, or the engraver. (invenit, the person who conceived or created the composition; fecit, the executer; pinxit, the painter of the picture reproduced in the engraving; sculpsit, the engraver; delineavit, the artist who drew the design; and excudit, the publisher.)Copper-engraving gave way to steel engraving in the 1820’s, which could be used to make more prints per plate, but copper also continued to be used throughout the century.
Lithographs were quite popular in the 19th century. Lithography is another form of printing using limestone, colored and treated to make an image. Some of these were also hand-colored afterward, usually with watercolor. Another popular method was chromolithography where each color was printed from individual limestone plates. All of these processes were very labor intensive, adding to the value of all of our prints. It is worthwhile to know how much labor, artistry, and care went into each one of our prints. If you would like any additional information about any of our prints, please ask. We will do our best to get it to you.