On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 358 pages of information about On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures.

84.  Copperplate printing.  In this instance, the copies are made by transferring to paper, by means of pressure, a thick ink, from the hollows and lines cut in the copper.  An artist will sometimes exhaust the labour of one or two years upon engraving a plate, which will not, in some cases furnish above five hundred copies in a state of perfection.

85.  Engravings on steel.  This art is like that of engraving on copper, except that the number of copies is far less limited.  A bank-note engraved as a copperplate, will not give above three thousand impressions without a sensible deterioration.  Two impressions of a bank-note engraved on steel were examined by one of our most eminent artists,(1*) who found it difficult to pronounce with any confidence, which was the earliest impression.  One of these was a proof from amongst the first thousand, the other was taken after between seventy and eighty thousand had been printed off.

86.  Music printing.  Music is usually printed from pewter plates, on which the characters have been impressed by steel punches.  The metal being much softer than copper, is liable to scratches, which detain a small portion of the ink.  This is the reason of the dirty appearance of printed music.  A new process has recently been invented by Mr Cowper, by which this inconvenience will be avoided.  The improved method, which give sharpness to the characters, is still an art of copying; but it is effected by surface printing, nearly in the same manner as calico-printing from blocks, to be described hereafter, 96.  The method of printing music from pewter plates, although by far the most frequently made use of, is not the only one employed, for music is occasionally printed from stone.  Sometimes also it is printed with moveable type; and occasionally the musical characters are printed on the paper, and the lines printed afterwards.  Specimens of both these latter modes of music-printing may be seen in the splendid collection of impressions from the types of the press of Bodoni at Parma:  but notwithstanding the great care bestowed on the execution of that work, the perpetual interruption of continuity in the lines, arising from the use of moveable types, when the characters and lines are printed at the same time, is apparent.

87.  Calico printing from cylinders.  Many of the patterns on printed calicos are copies by printing from copper cylinders about four or five inches in diameter, on which the desired pattern has been previously engraved.  One portion of the cylinders is exposed to the ink, whilst an elastic scraper of very thin steel, by being pressed forcibly against another part, removes all superfluous ink from the surface previously to its reaching the cloth.  A piece of calico twenty-eight yards in length rolls through this press, and is printed in four or five minutes.

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