Nature printing


Nature printing

Nature printing is a printing process, developed in the 18th century, that uses the plants, animals, rocks and other natural subjects to produce an image. The subject undergoes several stages to give a direct impression onto materials such as lead, gum, and photographic plates, which are then used in the printing process.

Benjamin Franklin's nature printed currency (1779)

While some sources state that Benjamin Franklin invented nature printing from leaf casts, using a copper plate press, in 1737 to thwart counterfeiters of paper money bills,[1] other sources also report Franklin's friend, Philadelphia naturalist Joseph Breintnall, to have made contact nature prints from leaves about 1730.[2] Together they sent nature prints which were printed directly from inked leaves to English naturalists.[3]

Plate from The Nature-printed British Seaweeds, (1859-60).

Another person attributed with the invention of the process, Naturselbstdruck, is Alois Auer; the first publication, of instructions for the process, was by this Austrian printer in The Discovery of the Natural Printing Process: an Invention ... Vienna, 1853. This was written in four languages by the author. He shows the use of plants, a fossil fish, and lace impressesed by roller onto a lead plate, this is hand coloured and transferred to the final print.

Nature print, Alois Auer .jpg

Many others botanical and natural history illustrations had attempted to use techniques that were a 'shorthand', or for a type of accuracy, in the representation of subjects. Another printer, the Englishman Henry Bradbury, immediately used Auer's 'nature printing' process to publish work of his own. These included two major botanical works;

the rendition of these species was readily adapted to the process; the two dimensional print would reveal form and detail for the identification of species.

Sherman Denton, in As Nature Shows Them: Moths and Butterflies ...[6] use the wings of the species he is describing, by pressing them into the page itself. For this work he collected over 50,000 insects for the 'Transfers of Species from Life'.

Auer method

Auer's method can only be used with objects with tolerably flat surfaces, such as dried and pressed plants, embroidery and lace, and a very few animal productions. The object is placed between a plate of steel and another of lead, both of which are smooth, and polished. They are then drawn through a pair of rollers under considerable pressure. When the plates are separated, it is found that a perfect impression of the object has been made in the leaden plate. This may be used directly as an engraved plate, but only if a very few impressions are wanted, for it is too soft to resist the action of printing presses for practical purposes. For larger numbers of images, a facsimile to be used as the printing plate is made in copper by the electrotype process.[7]

Further reading

  • Eric P. Newman, "Newly Discovered Franklin Invention: Nature Printing on Colonial and Continental Currency," The Numismatist (1964)

References

  1. ^ FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF PHILADELPHIA (2007). "Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia Releases New Benjamin Franklin Publication". FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF PHILADELPHIA. http://www.philadelphiafed.org/education/teachers/publications/intersections/2007/spring/. Retrieved 2010-07-26. "In 1737 Franklin invented the art of nature printing from leaf casts, using a copper plate press, for transferring a sage leaf image onto the back of paper money bills, a technique intended to thwart counterfeiters." 
  2. ^ Georgia B. Barnhill. "Benjamin Franklin's Job Printing". ABAA (This article first appeared in Ephemera News or The Ephemera Journal, publications of The Ephemera Society of America, Inc.). http://hq.abaa.org/books/antiquarian/news_fly?code=22. Retrieved 2010-07-26. "The [leaf printing] technique was not well known at the time, although the Philadelphia naturalist Joseph Breintnall made contact nature prints from leaves about 1730." 
  3. ^ James N. Green and Peter Stallybrass (2006). "Benjamin Franklin: Writer and Printer". The Library Company of Philadelphia. http://www.librarycompany.org/bfwriter/job.htm. Retrieved 2010-07-26. "Franklin probably got the idea of printing images of leaves on paper money from making these nature prints, which he and Breintnall sent to English naturalists. They were printed directly from inked leaves, which were placed inside a folded sheet of paper and run through the press." 
  4. ^ The Ferns of Great Britain and Ireland; Edited by John Lindley. Nature-printed by Henry Bradbury. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1857.
  5. ^ Johnstone, William Grosart. The Nature-printed British Sea-weeds: a History, Accompanied by Figures and Dissections of the Algae of the British Isles. Nature Printed by Henry Bradbury. London: Bradbury and Evans [1859-1860].
  6. ^ full title: As Nature Shows Them: Moths and Butterflies of the United States, East of the Rocky Mountains: with over 400 Photographic Illustrations in the Text and Many Transfers of Species from Life ... Boston: J. B. Millet, 1900.
  7. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg "Nature Printing". New International Encyclopedia. 1905. 

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Nature printing — Nature Na ture (?; 135), n. [F., fr. L. natura, fr. natus born, produced, p. p. of nasci to be born. See {Nation}.] 1. The existing system of things; the universe of matter, energy, time and space; the physical world; all of creation. Contrasted… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • nature printing — noun : a process in which an object (as a leaf or piece of lace) is pressed into a plane surface (as of soft metal) to make either a direct printing surface or a matrix …   Useful english dictionary

  • nature-printing — …   Useful english dictionary

  • Nature — Na ture (?; 135), n. [F., fr. L. natura, fr. natus born, produced, p. p. of nasci to be born. See {Nation}.] 1. The existing system of things; the universe of matter, energy, time and space; the physical world; all of creation. Contrasted with… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Nature worship — Nature Na ture (?; 135), n. [F., fr. L. natura, fr. natus born, produced, p. p. of nasci to be born. See {Nation}.] 1. The existing system of things; the universe of matter, energy, time and space; the physical world; all of creation. Contrasted… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • nature — n. 1 a thing s or person s innate or essential qualities or character (not in their nature to be cruel; is the nature of iron to rust). 2 (often Nature) a the physical power causing all the phenomena of the material world (Nature is the best… …   Useful english dictionary

  • nature print — noun : a print made by nature printing …   Useful english dictionary

  • printing — /prin ting/, n. 1. the art, process, or business of producing books, newspapers, etc., by impression from movable types, plates, etc. 2. the act of a person or thing that prints. 3. words, symbols, etc., in printed form. 4. printed material. 5.… …   Universalium

  • Nature photography — The Tetons and the Snake River (1942) by Ansel Adams Nature photography refers to a wide range of photography taken outdoors and devoted to displaying natural elements such as landscapes, wildlife, plants, and close ups of natural scenes and… …   Wikipedia

  • Printing press — For the history and technology of movable type, see Movable type. Printing press from 1811, exhibited in Munich, Germany …   Wikipedia


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