This collection documents the history of photomechanical printing from its development in 1826 through the perfection of three-color printing at the beginning of the twentieth century. All major intaglio, planotype, and relief printing methods are represented. The collection includes examples of virtually all categories of photographically-illustrated books, reports, accounts, treatises, catalogues, pamphlets, and ephemera. Pioneering firms and individual innovators are represented in equal numbers.
Of note, are impressive examples of color reproductions that predate the invention of actual color photography. There were various systems for simultaneously obtaining three monochromatic negatives, each sensitized to a different portion of the color spectrum, which could then be printed using the correct ink colors to produce color images. The images’ richness and depth are still astonishing, as in 1909 three-color relief halftones by the German A. Miethe from a book on Egyptian ruins. While the subject matter is particularly rich in American material, numerous European examples, including the Blanquart-Evrard’s monumental survey of photography and photomechanical illustration, La photographie, ses origines, ses progres, ses transformations (1870) and the photolithographs of Simoneau and Toovey in Spa et ses environs (1863), round out the collection. The collection includes approximately 4500 digital images in 340 objects.