Technical Terms

AFT (After): the name of actual artist if shown, always on the left hand side sometimes followed by del (delineated), pxt, or inv

AQ (Aquatint): an engraving where outlines are etched and shading accomplished by different graduations of resin melted onto the plate followed by further etching so that under a glass the surface appears to have had sand sprinkled over the surface

BL: position of a detail – Bottom Left

BR: position of a detail – Bottom Right

COL (Colouring): aquatints are often found coloured, the method being to paint the plate with coloured printing inks. Usually only 3 colours were used when printed with the 3rd and 4th colour being added by hand. Often only sepia colours were used (see tinting)

DEDICATION: an inscription below the image forming part of the title and dedicating the print to a person or corporation; sometimes with a crest

ENG (Engraver): the artist who engraves on metal or wood to interpret the actual original art working in reverse. The name is often followed by sculp. or sc [sculpsit]. and sometimes fec. or f. [fecit]

ETCH (Etching): a wax-covered copper plate on which the design is scratched through. The acid then bites into the plate where wax is not present. Further immersions and stopping-off parts of the design will give graduations

IMP (Imprints): all the printed material below or above the print. In the catalogue the term is used to mean the publisher’s line

INDIA PAPER: a fine thin tissue type paper interposed between the plate and paper whilst printing. This is used in proof printing as it was considered less damaging to the delicate surfaces of the plate

LINE: the plate engraved by means of a graver, a type of pointed chisel

– CLE (Copper Line): where the lines are well-spread because the metal is soft cannot be cut too close together

– SLE (Steel Line): where the lines can be cut very close together

LITH (Lithograph): a print taken from a stone after drawing on it with a greasy chalk, pencil or ink; often coloured by tint plates

MEZ (mezzotint): the plate is first worked all over to give the dark shades; polishing out the black gives the highlights

MEASUREMENT: millimeters throughout. The sizes are for the image only without any margins; the width first

OFF TAKES: the practice of printing from the original plates long after the original issue day

PART WORKS: usually due to the lengthy time it took to prepare the plates and the capital involved, the work was produced in parts for later rebinding. The parts were usually proof copies and in great demand by collectors of the day. Sometimes called large paper issues

PATAP: Published according to the Act of Parliament

PLATE: a copper or steel plate which is engraved

PLATE MARK: the imprint made by the edge of the plate when pressed into the paper during prints. These are not always apparent in book plates as binding can trim off the plate marks

PROOF: an impression taken when the plate is new, there are various types of proof generated by printers for the fancies of the artist or collectors of the time. Various forms were used:
– ‘Proof before letters’ – no letters or titles;
– ‘Scratch letter proof’ – where the artist’s and engraver’s names are scratched on the plate;
– ‘Proof before title’ – where only the artist’s and the engraver’s name are engraved on the plate but no title;
– ‘Open letter proof’ – when the first title printed has open letters

PROOF – FALSE: the practice of a publisher, on acquiring second hand plates, of issuing a proof edition by means of masking or polishing out the imprints and printing as a proof before title. The plates are usually worn and very rarely issued as India paper proofs

RE-ISSUES: when plates change hands to a different publisher the reprints from them are considered to be re-issues. Not to be confused with ‘edition’

REPRODUCTION: a modern copy by a modern method using modern machine manufactured paper

RE-TOUCHING: the practice of re cutting worn parts of a plate or altering the original plate to include some extra relevant point

SOURCE: with a number refers to source index
– SC P – Issued as a print proper
– SCUK – Source unknown (Bookplate)

STEEL FACED: copper plates could only be used for approx 500 copies before being worn out. Steel plating these plates gave them a much longer life Steel plates could be used for many thousands of copies before showing signs of wear

TINTING: colouring prints by watercolour. Before 1800 colours had white added to give body to the colour so the engraving was obliterated. After 1800 thin watercolours were used if colouring was needed. Lithographs were either tinted or with tint plates i.e. special plates cut to take the 3 colours printed one on top of another. Tiny pin register marks can be seen at each corner if coloured by this method

TL: position of a detail – Top Left

TR: position of a detail – Top Right

VAR (Variations): noted in the catalogue either individual prints or in the sources lists

VIG (Vignettes): a print without outlines or borders usually round or oval shapes

Plus sign (+): no artist’s name given

Zero sign (-): no engraver’s name given

Star sign (*): no date or publisher’s imprint given