Johann Alois Senefelder (6 November 1771 – 26 February 1834) was a German actor and playwright who invented the printing technique of lithography in 1796.
Born Aloys Johann Nepomuk Franz Senefelder in Prague, then Imperial city (Reichsstadt) of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, where his actor father was appearing on stage. He was educated in Munich and won a scholarship to study law at Ingolstadt.
The death of his father in 1791 forced him to leave his studies to support his mother and eight siblings, and he became an actor and wrote a successful play Connoisseur of Girls.
Problems with the printing of his play Mathilde von Altenstein caused him to fall into debt, and unable to afford to publish a new play he had written, Senefelder experimented with a novel etching technique using a greasy, acid resistant ink as a resist on a smooth fine-grained stone of Solnhofen limestone.
He then discovered that this could be extended to allow printing from the flat surface of the stone alone, the first planographic process in printing. He joined with the André family of music publishers and gradually brought his technique into a workable form, perfecting both the chemical processes and the special form of printing press required for using the stones.
He called it “stone printing” or “chemical printing”, but the French name “lithography” became more widely adopted. And with the composer Franz Gleißner he started a publishing firm in 1796 using lithography.
The value of the new cheap and exact reproduction process was recognized early by land surveying offices across Europe. Senefelder was appointed 1809 to be the Inspector of a new Institution set up for this purpose in Bavaria called the “Lithographic Institute” in Munich.
Similar Institutions were subsequently set up under his supervision in Berlin, Paris, London and Vienna.
He secured patent rights across Europe and publicized his findings in 1818 in Vollstandiges Lehrbuch der Steindruckerei which was translated in 1819 into French and English.
A Complete Course of Lithography combined Senefelder’s history of his own invention with a practical guide to lithography, and remained in print as recently as 1977 (Da Capo Press).
Senefelder was also able to exploit the potential of lithography as a medium for art. Unlike previous printmaking techniques, such as engraving, that required advanced craft skills, lithography facilitated greater accuracy and textual variety, because the artist could now draw directly onto the plate with familiar pens.
As early as 1803 André published in London a portfolio of artists lithographs, entitled Specimens of Polyautography.
In 1837, lithography had been further developed to allow full colour printing from multiple plates, and chromolithography was the most important technique in colour printing until the introduction of process colour.
When teenagers, most of us knew a hickey was a bruise caused by hard sucking on skin, usually on the neck.
On Mondays, blokes and sheilas proudly displayed their ugly hickeys as indicators of intense passion and other things over the weekend.
It was a status symbol or a message saying “I dunnit” or “nearly dunnit”!
In printing, a hickey (also known as a bull’s eye or fish eye) is an ink spot or imperfection on a printed paper caused by dirt, hair, or ink scum.
When newspapers were “pasted up” by hand it was also common for extraneous strips of paper with text on them, or nothing on them, to get dropped onto what would become the printing plate—and their images would be printed.
“The locomotive industry emerged in mid-nineteenth-century America with the development and rapid expansion of the railroad network.
As the number of locomotive manufacturers increased, the industry became intensely competitive, and builders vied with one another to capture the attention of railroad companies, officials, and agents.
The first locomotive builders’ prints were created in the late 1830s and ‘40s in response to this industry competition. These lithographic portraits of locomotives were soon considered to be essential to the manufacturers’ promotion of their machines.
Locomotive builders’ prints differed from ordinary advertising prints or landscape views with picturesque trains.
Instead, they were a unique type of print, a hybrid designed both to attract potential customers and to provide accurate technical information about locomotive engines and cars.
With the introduction of chromolithography in the 1840s and ‘50s, locomotive manufacturers began commissioning color prints of their engines.
Early American locomotives were often painted and colorfully decorated; chromolithographic locomotive builders’ prints offer a rare insight into the decorative designs, finishes, and materials favored by manufacturers.
The use of color in the 1850s ushered in what has been called the golden age of the locomotive builders’ prints.
These magnificent colour lithographs are to be found in Victoria Regia, or, The Great Water Lily of America:
With a Brief Account of its Discovery and Introduction into Cultivation (1854), a work by amateur botanist John Fisk Allen which documents his attempts to propagate the Amazon’s Victoria regia (now called Victoria amazonica) in the more northerly climes of his hometown of Salem, Massachusetts.
The wonderfully lavish plates accompanying the slim volume are the work of the British-born printer William Sharp, who is credited with creating the very first chromolithograph on American soil — a portrait of Reverend F. W. P. Greenwood.
These images produced for John Fisk Allen’s book are, according to Christies, the “very first colour-printed lithographs produced in America”.
Why they are ignoring the Greenwood portrait, we are not quite sure: it could be that they mean a first in the context of large scale colour printing, as opposed to a one off; or perhaps it is a reflection that some believe it likely that the Greenwood portrait was actually a lithotint with colours printed from a single rather than the multiple stones normally associated with chromolithography.
In any case, with their bold and stunning depth of colours, these water lily images by Sharp stand out as some of the finest examples of chromolithography, an art which at the time was only in its infancy.
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The date is 8 March, 1979.
This Picture was taken at Harry Robinson’s Retirement Function.
Harry was retiring from the Photomechanical Section at the Government Printing Office Netley Complex.
From Left to Right (Back Row):
Gary Easther (with hair), Jack Flack (doesn’t look any different), Helen Flack (more beautiful than ever), Barry James, (Supervisor), Neil Watt (soon to become a Trade School teacher), the late Ian Hobb and Mike Rice (later to become a Union official).
(Front Row): Jenny Easther (the real boss of the section), Marijke James (Barry’s wife), Penny Hobb (Ian’s wife) and Lois Rice (Mike’s wife).