This eminently useful application of the art of electrotyping originated with Volta, Cruickshank, and Wollaston about 1800 or 1801. In 1838, Spencer, of London, made casts of coins, and cast in intaglio from the matrices thus formed; in the same year Jacobi, of Dorpat, in Russia, made casts by electro deposit, which caused him to be put in charge of the work of gilding the dome of St. Isaac at St. Petersburg.

Electrotyping for the purposes of printing originated with Mr. Joseph A. Adams, a wood-engraver of New York, who made casts (1839-41) from wood-cuts, some engravings being printed from electrotype plates in the latter year. Many improvements in detail have been added since, in the processes as well as the appliances. Robert Murray introduced graphite as a coating for the form moulds. He first communicated his discovery to the Royal Institution of London, and afterward received a silver medal from the Society of Arts.