Posts Tagged ‘printing’

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Scans of Ver Sacrum Magazine

February 21, 2015

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This internet trip started at the Google Art Project, looking at “The Kiss” painting at Österreichische Galerie Belvedere in Vienna, and then going to their site where I found several scans of the 19th century magazine, “Ver Sacrum,” (“Sacred Spring.”) They contain wonderful prints of drawings and paintings (in black and white) of artists of that period and location, such as the Koloman Moser print above. I strongly recommend scrolling through these PDF files. They are amazing and inspirational.

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19th Century Printing: The Chap-Book

April 4, 2013

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A chapman was an Old English term used to describe a person who went door to door selling cheap goods. Among them were small books, called “chap-books”, that were often little more than stitched together pamphlets containing essays and poems with a few wood-carved illustrations. The McGill Library in Montreal has been running a digital scanning project for some time now to record many of these old texts.

In the late 1890s (1894 to be exact) a publishing house in Cambridge, MA started to issue a series of books called The Chap-Book that kept much of the same spirit, using inexpensive paper stock and selling them for 5 to 10 cents apiece. The artwork also had much of the same flavor, as well as small linear sketches and simple coloring to maintain that wood-cut look. Some of the regular artists who appeared in them were Fred Hazenplug and Fred Richardson. After relocating to Chicago, the publishers, H.S. Stone & Company, stopped their publication in 1898.

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What I’ve found particularly enjoyable about these books is not just the content of their artists and writers, but the advertising they included within. They have led me to names of other artists and publishing houses that have been swallowed up by time. You can view many of these books at Archive.org.

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Drawing Update: Weary Traveler Background

March 6, 2013

Here’s an update to the reworked drawing where I’m adding a new background, and I’m about halfway done. Click the thumbnails for larger views.

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I decided to use a grey ink color for the background to contrast with the black lines of the figures. I think I’ll need to add some thicker black outlines to make the foreground figures pop put more, but I’ll worry about that later. I’m also running out of grey ink, and the local store is out, so I’m hoping the online order arrives soon. The grey ink I’m using is Liquitex Acrylic ink “Neutral Grey 5.” The drawing surface is a sheet of Multimedia Artboard, 18 x 24″.

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Reworking Weary Traveler Drawing

February 27, 2013

I had “finished” this drawing below some time ago, or so I thought. I was never quite satisfied leaving the background an empty void of white, but was uncertain on what to fill in with, so I had just set it aside.

greeting_BK_linesblg greeting_BK_linesblg2

After looking around awhile at several possible locations, and going through tons of reference files, I settled on going no further than my own front door. I took a few photos until I was happy with the shadows and positioning, and made a composite of what I liked. I then drew an outline sketch to scale, and printed it out in a series of 9 pages that I then taped to the back of the drawing. I’ll use a light table so I can see the reference lines underneath.

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19th Century Civil War Illustrations

November 9, 2010

The Century Illustrated Magazine ran a series of articles in the 1880s about the Civil War that they republished in book form as a four volume series, Battles and Leaders of the Civil War. You can read all four of those original books online at Archive.org.


As it happens, I bought two of these several years ago at a used bookstore, volumes 2 and 3. They are reprints made by Castle Books in 1983. As far as I can tell they are about the same size as the Century books and the reproduction quality is good; although, the paper is not ideal and causes the dark areas to bleed out in most cases. The images are also most likely taken from reproductions rather than the original engraved plates. You can see more detail in the scans at Archive.org; however, those scans are highly compressed JPG files so it’s a trade-off. These two books cost me about $6 each and you can find them online for about $10-12. I highly recommend them. There are also many lithographs and etchings included. In volume 4 a few photographs begin to appear. They contain some of the best engravings and line art I’ve ever seen, and there’s tons of spot and full-page illustrations on at least every other page. The art of Isaac Walton Taber is particularly special.



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It’s important to mention the size of the prints. If they were reduced to a smaller size it would cause a loss of detail that many modern day reproductions of engravings do not account for. I notice this often in history books.


The text in these volumes is also very fascinating and quite accurate from a historical perspective, which makes it more worthwhile for anyone interested in this era of American history. The only index, by the way, is in the back of the fourth volume.



As I’ve mentioned before, when viewing these images on Archive.org I recommend using their online viewer instead of downloading PDFs since the image quality is better. Zoom the viewer up to 100% and save the JPG (right click>save as.) The samples I’m showing here are only about ¼ the original size.

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Royal Academy Pictures Magazine

October 29, 2010

As an extension to the previous post, I would like to recommend another 19th century art theme publication that can be found at Archive.org, the Royal Academy Pictures, which began as a supplement to The Magazine of Art in the 1870s and then became an independent magazine on its own when the other folded. It later changed it’s name to Royal Academy Illustrated and is still in publication today showcasing artists from the Royal Academy of Arts in London.



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Unlike the Magazine of Art, the RAP just contains pictures without any articles, and all are photographic prints instead of engravings. Most of the illustrations are black and white with an occasional one in four- color. The printing is not of very good quality, but is still worthwhile to study.


Detail image

I’m guessing the early scans come from the American copies, since the dimensions listed below each image appear to be in inches and feet. Some of the names that appear are familiar ones to me, like Edmund Leighton, John Waterhouse, Frank Brangwyn, William Orpen, Harold Speed, and Stanhope Forbes, but it’s fascinating to see names that I never would have known about otherwise, which can improve my research. I’m particularly interested in John Collier and George Clausen’s work. Hopefully I can find some full color scans of them. The style changes that show up in the issues from the 1920s show Modern influences starting to creep in.



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As an added bonus check out these Pall Mall Extra magazine files below, which was another art print magazine in circulation at that time. There’s an ad in Volume May 1909 issue (page n35) that mentions the Miehle two-revolution press that was used to make that very edition.



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Again, I recommend viewing these files at the Archive.org site by using their online viewer instead of bothering to download the PDFs (click “Read Online”.) Zoom them up to 100% and save the JPG images for easier viewing.


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For further reading on this subject and time period in British art look for the book “Narrating Modernity: the British Problem Picture, 1895-1914” by Pamela M. Fletcher. You can read much of the text of it at Google books.

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More Scribner’s Magazine Engravings

June 30, 2010

Here are a few more examples of the fine engravings I found digging around the archive.org site, these coming from the 1890 edition as I recall. I’m including some cropped closeups. |Link to previous post|

While researching the artwork in publications from this era, I discovered that most if not all of them were made using wood rather than copper plates. That surprised me a bit, since I had always associated wood engraving as looking more crude than these. The species of wood was typically boxwood, whose small size forced them to use multiple square blocks screwed together for large prints. The wood surface would be either drawn on for the artwork or have photographs printed directly on them, and then the individual blocks would be given to several artisans to engrave in order to speed up the process. This was no doubt why single names of the engravers don’t often appear, or even if they did, those artists sometimes had “factories” of people working for them as well.

I’ve read that some original wood blocks still survive from this period, but the wood hasn’t aged well, making new prints difficult to get from them. In most cases, metal castings were made after the wood was engraved so that the wood didn’t have to go through the press. It’s doubtful if those castings still exist.

I found a couple more sites that have other online editions of these magazines, but the scans tend to favor the text more than the artwork. It’s still good to see them, and the text is interesting reading also.
Cornell University
Haiti Trust Digital Library