- Considered by many the most beautiful type of intaglio print produced. The process is similar to the process used to create an etching in that a coating is applied to the copper plate and the plate is dipped in acid. The image has a soft appearance with exceptional tones. Often supplemental engraving and/or etching is done to further refine the image. The process was developed in France in the mid-1700's.

- An image produced by successively inking a series of lithographic stones, each with a single color, and then pulling the plate in exact register until the combinations of stones and colors create a full color image. Developed in the 1840's and used extensively until the end of the 19th century.

- The flat plate utilized by artisans for the different forms of intaglio printing such as engraving and etching. Because copper is a soft metal, the carved image lost its detail gradually as each impression was pulled, limiting the quantity created. Few plates have survived since most were either burnished smooth or melted into new plates for re-use.

EMBOSSED (Plate Mark)
- The pressure required to transfer the ink on a lithographic stone or an etched or engraved plate is so great that the paper tends to show the edge of the stone or plate impression. Occasionally the paper was trimmed before binding and the embossed plate mark does not show.

- The method of incising lines, with a burin (a sharp pointed instrument), into a copper plate to create an image. The engraver carves the image in reverse to compensate for the reversal onto the paper. The recessed lines hold the ink which is then picked up by damp paper as it is run through the press. Engraving provides detail that no modern technology has been able to duplicate. It was developed in the 1400's.

- A similar look to an engraved image, an etching is created by covering a copper plate with a protective material and then removing thin lines of the covering with a pointed instrument. The plate is then submersed in acid which bites into the exposed areas. It was developed in the 1500's.

- The brown spots on the paper of many old prints caused by acid burns and fungoid growth. Prevalent in many papers beginning in the mid-19th century through the 19th century. Treatment with a deacidifier usually arrests the condition.

- Early printing was not possible with color. Colorization was achieved after the image outline was printed with black waterproof ink. Separate artists were then required to apply watercolor or gouache in washes over the print.

- The process of drawing with grease pencil on a smooth stone, inking the stone and transferring the image onto paper with the aid of a press. It was developed at the very end of the 18th century. Not as detailed as etching or engraving.

- The process of treating the copper plate with a tool to enable it to hold enough ink to produce a completely black impression. The image is created by rubbing the textured areas in the areas of the plate where the artist wants white or shaded tones. It is essentially the reverse of creating an engraving. A very laborious process, mezzotints are rare and one of the most beautiful types of prints. They are seldom hand-colored. Developed in the mid-17th century.

- A number such as 22/50 on a print means it is the 20th in a limited edition of 50. After the artist has pulled 50 good prints, the plate is deeply scarred or the word "cancelled" is scored into the plate to destroy it. The limited edition print is not found before 1880. It is to be distinguished from signed and numbered photomechanical prints of today that are not directly produced by the artist.

- The photomechanical printing process used today. The technology has few limitations enabling huge quantities to be produced. The process has not duplicated the brilliancy and detail of hand-painted etchings, engravings and lithographs. The image is created by separating the image into cyan, magenta, black and yellow dots that, when combined, give full color images. Under magnification the dots are visible and are used as a positive identification of the process. Developed in the United States in the first decade of the 20th century.

- The quality of a print is a function of three factors: the condition of the printing plate or stone; the skill with which it was inked and pulled; and the care taken through the years to preserve it. Earlier impressions were naturally better than later ones. Prints previously framed and exposed to UV light are not usually in as good condition as those recently pulled from a book.

- Early prints used paper made from cotton rags. Before the 1800's, rag paper had distinguishing lines formed by the screen the paperwas pressed and dried on. In the early 19th century wove paper was developed which eliminated the line patterns. The 100% rag paper used has the potential to last for centuries while the wood pulp, chemically treated paper of today is basically inferior in durability and deteriorates quickly.

- Any print made from the original plate after the original edition. Less desirable than an original but superior to a photomechanical reproduction in terms of authenticity and rarity. Usually, but not necessarily, inferior to the original impressions.

- Developed in the 1800's, intaglio plates made of steel permitted minute detail not possible with copper. Further, they prolonged the use of the plates considerably. In 1857, the invention of electroplating allowed artists to work with copper plates during the engraving and then face the plates with steel to increase their durability.

- A form of relief printing, it is one of the earliest forms of multiple book illustration. The image is created by carving away the wood and leaving a raised surface for printing (similar to today's rubber stamps). Detail is crude. Used as early as the 1400's and utilized well into the 19th century.

- The term giclee derives from the French verb gicler meaning "to squirt, to spray" and refers to any high-resolution, large-format ink-jet printer output with fade-resistant dye- or pigment-based inks. Modern digital printers are capable of combining and spraying hundreds of millions of microscopic droplets of ink per second onto pure cotton rag paper or canvas, thus resulting in near-exact duplication of the original in this revolutionary method of print reproduction.

- A modern reproduction method where a photographic negative of the image is placed in contact with a plate covered with emulsion. Then the plate is exposed to light creating a duplicate of the original (positive) image. The plate is transferred or offset to a rubber drum from which the final print is produced.

To download this "Glossary of Print Terms", click here.

© 2012 Beaux Arts, Dallas, Texas. All Rights Reserved. Site design by