It is a well-known fact that the reactions of the compounds of silver, platinum, and chromium in photographic processes are generally voluntary ones and that the light really acts only as an accelerator, that is to say the chemical properties of the preparations also change in the dark, though a longer time is required. When these preparations are exposed to the light under a negative, the modification of their chemical properties is accelerated in such a way that, through the gradations of the tone-values in the negative, the positive print is formed. Now it has been found that we also have such accelerators in material substances that can be used in the light, the process being termed catalysis. It is remarkable that these substances, called catalyzers, apparently do not take part in the process, but bring about merely by their presence, decomposition or combination of other bodies during or upon contact. Hence, catalysis may be defined, in short, as the act of changing or accelerating the speed of a chemical reaction by means of agents which appear to remain stable.

Professor Ostwald and Dr. O. Gros, of the Leipsic University, have given the name of "catatypy" to the new copying process. The use of light is entirely done away with, except that for the sake of convenience the manipulations are executed in the light. All that is necessary is to bring paper and negative into contact, no matter whether in the light or in the dark. Hence the negative (if necessary a positive may also be employed) need not even be transparent, for the ascending and descending action of the tone values in the positive picture is produced only by the quantity in the varying density of the silver powder contained in the negative. Hence no photographic (light) picture, but a catatypic picture (produced by contact) is created, but the final result is the same.

Catatypy is carried out as follows: Pour dioxide of hydrogen over the negative, which can be done without any damage to the latter, and lay a piece of paper on (sized or unsized, rough or smooth, according to the effect desired); by a contact lasting a few seconds the paper receives the picture, dioxide of hydrogen being destroyed. From a single application several prints can be made. The acquired picture—still invisible—may now in the further course of the process, have a reducing or oxydizing action. As picture-producing bodies, the large group of iron salts are above all eminently adapted, but other substances, such as chromium, manganese, etc., as well as pigments with glue solutions may also be employed. The development takes place as follows: When the paper which has been in contact with the negative is drawn through a solution of ferrous oxide, the protoxide is transformed into oxide by the peroxide, hence a yellow positive picture, consisting of iron oxide, results, which can be readily changed into other compounds, so that the most varying tones of color can be obtained. With the use of pigments, in conjunction with a glue solution, the action is as follows: In the places where the picture is, the layer with the pigments becomes insoluble and all other dye stuffs can be washed off with water.

The chemical inks and reductions, as well as color pigments, of which the pictures consist, have been carefully tested and are composed of such as are known to possess unlimited durability.

After a short contact, simply immerse the picture in the respective solution, wash out, and a permanent picture is obtained.