Print

Carbon Transfer- Monochrome

(Fr.: charbon transfert)

(1860s-1940s but still used today) A dichromated colloid process invented by Fargier in France in 1860 and improved in England the following year. For the first time in history, pigment prints could rival the aesthetic quality of the best silver prints, with the added advantage of permanency.

The process works as follow: A watercolor pigment (originally carbon black, hence the name of the process) is dispersed in a 10% aqueous solution of warm gelatin, and the resulting emulsion is coated on a piece of paper. After drying, the pigment paper - often called "pigment tissue"- can be made sensitive to light by soaking it for a few minutes in a sensitizer such as a 5% solution of potassium dichromate. After drying in the dark, the sensitized tissue can be contact printed for about one minute in bright sunlight under a negative. After exposure, the pigment tissue is soaked in cold water briefly and transferred to a final support which can be any high quality paper that has received a thick coating of hardened gelatin. After a few minutes the tissue/final paper combination is soaked in hot water. The backing of the pigment tissue can then be removed and the unexposed soluble gelatin dissolved, leaving a positive image in relief. Alternatively, any waterproof surface, such as ceramic, glass, wood, etc., can be used as a final support. See ivorytype and Photoceramic.

Carbon transfer was displaced by carbro in the 1930s and thereafter until the 1950s when it became forgotten. The strong revival of non-silver processes in the 1970s has revived interest in these beautiful processes and our own books are now the standard texts in this field. See History and Practice of Carbon Processes (1982) and Modern Carbon Printing. (Nadeau, Encyclopedia, p. xxx).

The print we use to illustrate this process is an Autotype (carbon transfer) portrait by Sarony of well known author Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882). The card on which the print is mounted is 16.5 x 11.4 cm and bears the signature of Longfellow. This is one of the nicest pieces in our collection. Carbon prints as a rule, are rarer, more permanent and more desirable than Platinotypes.

The print we use to illustrate this process is an Autotype (carbon transfer) portrait by Sarony of well known author Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882). The card on which the print is mounted is 16.5 x 11.4 cm and bears the signature of Longfellow. This is one of the nicest pieces in our collection. Carbon prints as a rule, are rarer, more permanent and more desirable than Platinotypes.