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Look at the small print when buying art work.

Byline: Don Rodgers

THERE can be few people who don't have a print or two hanging on their walls.

Printed pictures have a long history, and prints are collected both as antiques and as works of art.

There are three main types of print: relief, intaglio and planographic.

The oldest of these is relief printing, which has a history of at least 11 centuries. As the name suggests, the image is printed from a raised surface, the non-printing areas having been cut away from the printing block, as in woodcuts and wood engravings.

Intaglio printing goes back 500 years, the name coming from the Italian word for incising or engraving.

This method is the opposite of relief printing as, here, the ink is held in lines or depressions cut into the metal printing plate, examples being etchings, mezzotints, aquatints and line engravings.

Planographic, or surface printing, is the most recent of the three processes, going back only 200 years. In this, the printing surface is flat, as in the different types of lithograph.

Two of these printing methods are illustrated here. The man kissing the lady with the fan is an example of a line engraving, dating to the late 19th century. Line engravings combine etching, normally used for the background, where the design is incised through a protective layer and then etched into the metal by acid, with clearer lines for foreground detail engraved directly into the plate with a burin.

This print has been hand coloured and is entitled Le Baiser Rendu. It is an illustration of a slightly scurrilous fable by La Fontaine, a popular subject for artists, engravers and porcelain decorators alike.

The other print is a colour lithograph by F G Stevenson, active between about 1890 and 1910, and is signed by him in pencil.

Colour lithographs, also known in the 19th century as chromolithographs, use stone for the printing surface, and by this date generate the image through stippling, which here creates quite a soft effect.

Le Baiser Rendu is an example of the sort of print considered old-fashioned today and which has rather fallen from favour. This one was picked up from a charity shop for pounds 4. The Stevenson print is more collectable. It cost pounds 3 from a junk shop in Hungerford - quite a bargain, as his signed prints generally retail at pounds 100 to pounds 150.


UNFASHIONABLE: This illustration of a racy story is considered a little old-fashioned by modern collectors; FULL COLOUR: The signature on this piece lifts its value considerably
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 28, 2009
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