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Postcard engravings and etchings  
 

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Posted 01/21/2016   9:24 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this topic Add GregAlex to your friends list  Get a Link to this Message
I have long been entranced by the art of engraving -- the skills that brought us banknotes, stocks, bonds ... and stamps. Many moons ago, I found a couple engraved French postcards in a 25 cent box and snapped them up. Since then I've picked up well over a dozen. They are truly works of art and easy to discern from typical postcards by their ragged edges and the imprint of the printing plate. Engraving or etching is also not hard to identify, by lightly running your fingernail over the image -- you'll feel the rough quality of the raised ink.

So far all the engraved cards I've found have been from France, most from Paris. Only one is in color and that one, I'm guessing, was printed in the '50s or '60s. The others were most likely printed between 1900-20.

Does anyone else collect engraved postcards? Do they come from other countries or were these specifically a French creation?
















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Edited by GregAlex - 01/21/2016 9:25 pm

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Posted 01/21/2016   10:10 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Crouse27 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
I never knew such engraved post cards existed. They must be quite scarce, but for sure they are quite beautiful!

I collect the postal cards issued during the 1893 Columbian Expo which also are quite beautiful, but are lithographed. Here is a pretty example of a Birds Eye View card printed by the Envelope Stamp Machine Company of Chicago.

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Edited by Crouse27 - 01/21/2016 10:19 pm
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Posted 01/22/2016   12:13 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add GregAlex to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Beautiful card! Not engraved, as you note, but nice. I know just the thread that would appreciate seeing it:
http://goscf.com/t/15744
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Posted 01/25/2016   8:41 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add GregAlex to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Other engravings/etchings in this postcard collection show "Old Paris." This one, for instance, depicts Nesle's Tower, which was torn down in 1665. I'm wondering what these engravings were based on, or even if the printing plates came from an earlier period. I'm going to post a separate thread to see if I can elicit the help of the Francophiles out there.

The card of the Prison Temple in the moonlight (1640) posted above would also fall into this historic category.

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Edited by GregAlex - 01/26/2016 11:11 am
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Posted 01/25/2016   11:39 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add bookbndrbob to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Found this one at a show a few years ago. It is the only advertising postcard that I have ever seen done using the technique of etching.

"Greetings from Dresden" "Leonhardis inks...the best"





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Edited by bookbndrbob - 01/25/2016 11:47 pm
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Posted 01/31/2016   01:19 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add bookbndrbob to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Here's a postcard with an actual etching of Stolzenfels castle on the Rhine. It was sent from a young man to his girlfriend (I'm speculating) in Toledo, Ohio. It took the postcard 12 days to arrive back in the States.





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Edited by bookbndrbob - 01/31/2016 01:21 am
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Posted 02/02/2016   2:42 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add GregAlex to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
So it looks like Germany also sold etched/engraved postcards. That last one has the same rough edges as the Parisian cards I posted. Very interesting -- thanks for posting!
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Posted 02/02/2016   8:09 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Crouse27 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Would engraved postcards have been printed one at a time from a single die, or from a transfer roll with multiple impressions per larger sheet of cards? As scarce as they seem to be we may never know for certain, as multiple examples would need to be studied for variation.
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Posted 02/02/2016   11:58 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add bookbndrbob to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
GregAlex, those rough edges on the cards are called deckle edges, and they are characteristic of etchings. Printmakers like deckle edges on their etching paper because these edges mimic real deckle edges. Real deckle edges occur on large, full sheets of handmade printmaking paper...as it is made in the deckle screen. Printmakers (etchers) mimic this effect by tearing their sheets (rather than cutting or slicing) using a heavy steel tearing bar to create the rough edges.

Crouse27, etchings are/were done completely by hand on copper plates. Unlike engravings, where the "print areas" are carved into the metal with gravers, etchings use acid to eat out lines and areas. With etchings, the copper plate is first covered with a waxy resist material, and the art is produced by drawing through the resist wax (ground) with metal needles. When the drawing is completed, the copper plate is etched with acid to produce the printing lines.

The advantage of etching is that a skilled person can produce a very wide range of light and dark areas with a characteristic freehand look. The disadvantage is that you cannot produce a great number of prints from the etching plate, because it is soft...being copper or zinc.

The engraving process involves steel plates and is adaptable to mass production techniques. The life of a steel printing plate is much longer than the life of an etching plate. Steel engravings have a different look. They are generally much more controlled and don't show as much of the artist's "hand".
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Edited by bookbndrbob - 02/03/2016 12:18 am
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Posted 02/03/2016   06:22 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Dianne Earl to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Beautiful cards GregAlex, crouse27 and bookbndrbob.

Thanks for sharing

Dianne
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Don't grumble that the roses have thorns, be thankful that the thorns have roses
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Posted 02/03/2016   07:32 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add Crouse27 to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thanks Diane Earl. Bookbndrbob great explanation. I was not aware of the technical differences and thought the words were interchangeable.

So by your definition etched postcards must be quite scarce as few could have been manufactured, as compared to engravings that also might have been mass produced by transfer rolls.

This also supports why the Columbian Expo card, which is lithographed, might have been easier to mass produce... relatively speaking as even that card is scarce.

Thanks!
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Edited by Crouse27 - 02/03/2016 07:34 am
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Posted 02/03/2016   11:02 am  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add bookbndrbob to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Oh, and thanks GregAlex. My favorite is "La Prison du Temple". Great card with the shadows of the moonlight on the structure.
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Posted 02/03/2016   12:45 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add GregAlex to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Thank for defining etching, Bob. Do you think all the cards are etched? There is one street scene that shows few shadows and could have been done by an engraver.

As to scarcity, this type of card is certainly harder to find. They are also much slower to print, with each pressing the plate must be hand inked and the excess ink carefully removed. But a copper plate can print around 5000 impressions or more, so these postcards probably can't be called rare.
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Edited by GregAlex - 02/03/2016 12:46 pm
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Posted 02/03/2016   1:25 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add bookbndrbob to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
GregAlex, they all look like tchings to me. Etchings leave a characteristic impression at the edge of the copper plate. The edges and corners of the plate must be filed so as not to cut into the paper. You can see the rounded corner impressions on all of yours. Also, the lines of an etching have a slightly ragged look...,which is present on all of your cards. And, wiping the plate of excess ink before printing is an artistic kind of touch. There is a characteristic slight film of ink on your prints which tells you they are etchings.

My commercial card is a strange item. It was printed on a hot press (smooth) paper, and it has been trimmed. I can't figure out why it was done, when it would have been much cheaper to use any other print method.

While they may not be rare, your cards are desirable. And, although they were made to sell to tourists and travelers, I would think, they are still works of art from a period which can be defined. Very nice.
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Posted 03/27/2016   4:03 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add bookbndrbob to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Here is another nice German etching as postcard. This one is unused.

The signature at the bottom is: A. Hartmann rad (the artist)
Below this is: Druck von: B. Fischer jr. Berlin (the printer, in Berlin)

At bottom right is: A. H. John's Kunstverlag Fft. a/m (the fine art publisher in Frankfurt am Main)

There is also a name on the tail or flourish of the "F" of Frankfurt, but I cannot read it. This must be the artist of the calligraphy.




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Edited by bookbndrbob - 03/27/2016 4:04 pm
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Posted 03/28/2016   3:32 pm  Show Profile Bookmark this reply Add GregAlex to your friends list  Get a Link to this Reply
Nice card, Bob -- thanks for posting it!

FYI, you might like the other etched postcards that I included in this thread: http://goscf.com/t/47574
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Edited by GregAlex - 03/28/2016 3:44 pm
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