Anastatic Process of Lithography

(Fr.: lithotypographie; transports sur pierre d’impressions anciennes)

A primitive form of transfer lithography, or zincography, by which prints, particularly old ones, may be treated so as to yield a transfer, which may be inked up and printed from. Its was originally intended as a facsimile printing process and was first mentioned in England in an announcement in the Athenaeum of December, 1841 that the journal was to be reprinted in Berlin anastatically (without its consent). The invention was attributed to Baldermus, of Berlin, and was introduced to England in 1844 by William Siemens and patented in the name of Joseph Woods.

Later in the century, the credit for its invention was claimed by Rudolph Appel. This was a questionable claim.

According to Edmond Morin, the real inventor was probably Charles d’Aiguebelle who earned a silver medal at the Exposition of 1834 for his “transports sur pierre d’impression anciennes.” In 1841, Auguste Dupont, of Périgueux, reproduced the only known copy of L’Estat de l’Église du Périgord, with a variant of the process he named impression typo-lithographique. Paul Dupont, in Paris, used the same process in 1847 for a reproduction of a work by Dom Bouquet after most of the print run had been destroyed in a fire.

The anastatic process was used mainly to make facsimile reproductions of old prints. To describe the essential features of the process, a print was softened and made transferable by damping the back of the paper with dilute acid –or sometimes by soaking the print for up to 10 days in dilute nitric acid. The image side of the paper was then applied firmly with the help of a wringer onto a sheet of zinc, allowing the acid to etch the metal where the ink of the print did not prevent it. The print could then be pulled and after some more acid etching the plate was ready to be inked up with a roller and provide many “pulls.” In a different variation, the original print was softened and its ink image reinforced by rolling it up with an ink roller without soiling the paper. This could then be transferred onto the zinc plate and treated as above.

The first book with anastatic illustrations may be Sketches Printed at the Second Hampstead Conversazione February 2nd, 1846 in Illustration of the Anastatic Printing Process. Monson’s 1848 maps of Ipswich was “printed by Rudolph Appel, Anastatic Printing Office, Ipswich.” The printing of plates by provincial publishers was to be the principal use of anastatic printing almost to the end of the century in England. (Nadeau, Encyclopedia, p. xxx).

Anastatic print produced in 1914. 230x150 mm Anastatic print produced in 1914. 230x150 mm

Anastatic print produced in 1914. 230 x 150 mm.