We have now a printing-block ready for the press. If it is to be printed by machinery--that is to say, upon a Schnell press--the surface is etched; if it has to be more carefully handled in a hand press, etching is rarely resorted to; it is moistened only with glycerine and water. To etch a plate for a Schnell press, it is placed upon a leveling stand, and the following solution is poured upon it:

 Glycerine............................. 150 parts.

Ammonia................................ 50 "

Nitrate of potash (saltpeter).......... 5 "

Water.................................. 25 " 

Another equally good formula, recommended by Allgeyer, who managed Herr Albert's Lichtdruck printing for some years, is:

 Glycerine............................. 500 parts.

Water................................. 500 "

Chloride of sodium (common salt)...... 15 " 

In lieu of common salt, 15 parts of hyposulphite of soda, or other hygroscopic salt, such as chloride of calcium, may be employed.

The etching fluid is permitted to remain upon the image for half an hour. During this time, by gently moving the finger to and fro over the surface, the swelling or relief of the image can be distinctly felt. The plate is not washed, but the etching fluid simply poured off, so that the film remains impregnated with the glycerine and water; at the most, a piece of bibulous paper is used to absorb any superfluous quantity of the etching fluid. After etching, the plate is taken straight to the printing press. The inking up and printing are done very much as in lithography. If it requires a practiced hand to produce a good lithographic print, it stands to reason that in dealing with a gelatine printing block, instead of a stone, skill and practice are more necessary still. Therefore at this point the photographer should hand over the work to the lithographer, or rather the Lichtdruck printer. It is only by coaxing judiciously, with roller and sponge, that a good printing block can be obtained, and no amount of teaching theoretically can beget a good printer. To appreciate how skillful a printer must be, it is only necessary to see the imperfect proofs that first result, and to watch how these are gradually improved by dint of rolling, rubbing, etching, cleaning, etc.

In all Lichldruck establishments, two kinds of rollers are used, viz., of leather and glue. In some establishments, too, they employ two kinds of ink; but Herr Löwy manages to secure delicacy and vigor at the same time by using one ink, but rolling up with two kinds of roller.

Collotype printing is not merely done by hand presses, but is also done by machinery. At Herr Albert's a gas engine of six-horse power is employed to drive the machines, and each machine requires the attention of a skilled mechanic and a girl. The press is very like the lithographic quick press. Upon a big steel bed lies the little collotype block. The glass printing block, with its brownish film of gelatine, moves horizontally to and fro, and, as it does so, passes under half a dozen rollers, which not only supply ink, but disperse it. Some of the rollers are of leather and others of glue, and, whenever the printing block retires from underneath them, an ink slab takes the place of the block, and imparts more ink to the rollers; sometimes as many as eight rollers are used, for the difficulty of machine printing is to apply the ink as delicately and equally as possible. It is necessary at intervals to damp the block, and when the printer in charge finds this to be the case, he stops the press, and applies a little glycerine and water with a cloth or sponge; then a leather roller is passed over to remove superfluous moisture, and the press is again started.

Herr Obernetter relies upon the Star or Stern press--a small lithographic press--one man sufficing to manage it, who turns a wheel with large spokes, reminding one of the steering wheel of a ship. The Lichtdruck plate, gelatine film upward, is laid upon a sheet of plate glass by way of a bed, the plate having first been treated with a solution of glycerine and water; it is then inked up as previously described, except that Herr Obernetter uses two kinds of ink--a thick one and a thin--applied by two rollers of glue. In the first place, a moist sponge is rubbed over the surface; then a soft roller covered with wash-leather, and of the appearance of crêpe, is passed over two or three times to remove surplus moisture; then a roller charged with thick ink is put on, and then another with thin is applied. It takes fully five minutes to sponge and roll up a plate, the rolling being done gently and firmly. A sheet of paper is now laid upon the plate, the tympan is lowered, and the scraper adjusted with due pressure; a revolution of the wheel completes the printing, the well-known scraping action of the lithographic press being used in the operation.

Printing From The Block 362 9a


Some Lichtdruck prints are printed upon thick plate-paper, and are ready for binding without further ado, these being for book illustrations. Other pictures, that are to pass muster among silver photographs, are, on the other hand, printed upon fine thin paper, and then sized by dipping in a thin solution of gelatine; after drying, they are further dipped in a solution of shellac and spirit.--Photo. News.