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I H. SLATER.



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LIBRARY



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA.

Received NOV 10 1891 . ,g



Accessions No. ^.-^4^ ' Z Shelf No..



CA3



-%o



1TCIIIGS



BY THE PRINCIPAL
ARTISTS.



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Picture Framing Department,

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Picture Frames.

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mM 22 JPears.



COLLECTORS of ENGRAVINGS
y and other Works of Art can
frequently obtain rare or valu-
able Specimens which could not be
heard of through any other channel
by means of be ffia3aar, EycbanQe &
fIDart, which, besides affording an
unrivalled medium for private bar-
gaining, gives a large amount of
Literary matter of the most di-
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interest and value to any reader
whatever may be his particular
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The Office: 170, STRAND, LONDON.



LlBBABT MANUAL:

A GUIDE TO THE

FORMATION OF A LIBRARY,

AND THE

IDaluation of IRare ant> Stanbarb IBoohs.

THIRD AND ENLARGED EDITION,

By j. Herbert slater,

Author of "Engravings and Their Value? Editor of "Book
Prices Current" 6r*c.



L. UPCOTT GILL, 170, Strand, London, W.C.



IN THE PRESS.

PAINTERS AND THEIR WORKS.

A COMPANION VOLUME TO

'Engravings & Their Value,"

Doing for PAINTINGS what Mr. Slater has
done for ENGRAVINCS.

15 y RALPH N- JAMES.



L. UPCOTT GILL, 170, Strand, London, W.C.



ESTABLISHED 1832,



Samuel Goombes,

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MANUFACTURING



PRINTSELLER I PUBLISHER,
331, STRAND, LONDON

(Immediately Opposite SOMERSET HOUSE).

CHEAPEST HOTS! IN L0MB0H.



ENGRAVINGS, ETCHINGS,

n 11. i> -i m i A choice collection of the

All the Best Masters. most ^ Bubjeot8>

Oil Paintings and Drawings,

From the Salon and Royal Academy.



OIL PAINTINGS SKILFULLY BACKLINED, RESTORED
and VARNISHED, on the Premises.



OLD FRAMES RE-GILT EQUAL TO NEW.



Engravings and their Value.



EEGRAYIESS AND
THEIR YALUE.

A GUIDE

FOR THE PRINT COLLECTOR,

BY

J. HERBERT SLATER,

EDITOR OF "BOOK PRICES CURRENT"; FORMERLY EDITOR OF "BOOK LORE " ;

AUTHOR OF "THE LIBRARY MANUAL," " BOOK COLLECTING" (" YOUNG

COLLECTOR" SERIES), "THE LAW RELATING TO COPYRIGHT

AND TRADE MARKS," ETC.



'*S* OP THE

trinvBEsiTr;

LONDON :

L. UPCOTT GILL, 170, STRAND, W.O.

1891.



^



^



<



*>



BRADLEY, LONDON AND COUNTY PRINTING WORKS, DRURY LANE, W.C.

4ssy 2



PREFACE.



The Valuation of Engravings, if it is to be accomplished
satisfactorily, requires great technical knowledge and a
thorough acquaintance with the market. No amount of
book-learning can ever compensate for a deficiency in
practice, and the following pages are not written with
the object of promoting an impossibility. That the
information contained in them may be useful in many
respects, I do not, however, doubt.

As a rule, the works of living engravers have not been
noticed, since the judgment on their labours yet remains
to be pronounced.

I may conveniently mention here that that excellent
and indeed indispensable work of reference known to
all collectors as Bryan's " Dictionary," is specially noticed
under the head of " Basan (F.) " page 83, post.

J. H. S.
Temple, E.G.



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER PAGE

I. The Origin of Engraving .... 1

II. Various Methods op Engraving . . 8

III. On Forming a Collection . . . .23

IY. The Examination and Purchase of

Prints 33

Y. On the Genuineness of Prints . . 43

VI. The Cleaning of Prints . . . .60

VII. The Preservation of Prints . . .69

VIII. The Prices of Prints 74

IX. Technical Terms 78

X. List of Books useful to Collectors . 82

XI. XXXII. List of Engravers, in Alpha-
betical Order, with some of their
Chief "Works and Auction Values
of each Print Catalogued . . 91-455



ERRATUM.

Page 67, line 3, for " Removing " read " Repairing.'



w



ENGRAVINGS AND THEIR VALUE.



CHAPTER I.
THE ORIGIN OF ENGRAVING.

Engraving is the art of cutting metals, wood, and pre-
cious stones, and representing on the face of any of
these mediums a device or design to be reproduced on
paper or other suitable material.

This definition, though not technically accurate, is never-
theless popular, for the general idea of the process of
engraving is, as a rule, associated with the transfer of the
design, to such an extent, indeed, that the very terms
"engraving" and "print" are frequently regarded as
synonymous. Strictly speaking, a "print" is the impres-
sion ; that which produces the print is the " engraving)"
hence the latter term is, technically, applicable to the
medium only and not to the impression itself. Both terms
are, however, now frequently confounded, being indiffer-
ently applied to the production itself and to the plate or
block from which the artist has worked.

The process of engraving as a mode of decoration merely,
was practised by goldsmiths and metal-workers from the
very earliest times, and specimens of ancient art, as

B



2 ENGRAVINGS AND THEIR VALUE.

beautiful in conception and design as any our workmen
are capable of producing at the present day, are fre-
quently met with in the cabinets of collectors. Homer,
on several occasions, uses the word ypdtpa (grapho),
clearly showing that even in the disturbed state of
society which the poet delighted to depict, the art was,
in his opinion at any rate, in ordinary practice. The
Bible abounds in references to the subject, as for example,
" And thou shalt take two onyx stones and grave on them
the names of the children of Israel " (Exodus xxviii., 9) ;
"With the work of an engraver in stone, like the
engravings of a signet, shalt thou engrave," &c. (Exodus
xxviii., 11), from which we may certainly conclude that the
Israelites had acquired a knowledge of the practice during
their captivity in Egypt.

There is, indeed, no lack of authority to support the con-
clusion that decorative engraving has been in vogue from
a very early date, while in the days of the Greeks and
Romans it was so common that the laws and important
contracts were almost universally engraved on metal plates,
and even slaves were sometimes branded with metal stamps.
The ancients thus made the first step, thoroughly master-
ing in detail the art or process of engraving, although it
was not until comparatively recent times that the difficulties
attending the transferring of the device were successfully
overcome. When we consider that many of the designs of
the Roman epoch have, when properly manipulated, the
distinct power of making impressions, we can only wonder
that such a practical nation should have overlooked the
additional step which would have anticipated the flight
of more than 500 years. In cutting and carving precious
stones, the ancients were infinitely superior to the artists
of our own times, and, having the requisite skill and
knowledge to excel in the most difficult branch of the
science, it certainly seems unaccountable that they should
never have thought of engraving on wood or metal with



THE ORIGIN OF ENGRAVING. 3

the object of transferring an impress to papyrus, linen,
or even the hard waxen tablets which served them for
paper.

These remarks will remind the reader that we have
hitherto spoken only of the process of engraving that
is to say, the act of cutting or carving a certain medium
into a required design. The practice of transferring an
impression of the design to paper is just that very step
which, so far as is known, the ancients neglected to take,
and which, probably, was not taken at all until the middle
of the fifteenth century, and after the invention of paint-
ing in oil.

The circumstances which led up to this great invention
may be briefly narrated. At the period mentioned, a
particular kind of work, termed niello, was much in vogue,
especially in Italy, for the adornment of all kinds of
ecclesiastical and domestic utensils. It was executed in
the following manner: The design having been cut with
a graver on a silver plate, the latter was covered with a
fusible substance, composed of silver, lead, copper, sulphur,
and borax, which, being melted by the application of heat,
ran into and filled the engraved lines, and, when allowed
to cool, hardened, and became firmly fixed. This com-
pound was called nigellum ; in Italian, niello. The surface
of the plate was then smoothed and polished, and the
design appeared in black lines on a ground of bright
silver. In the preparation of these plates it was necessary
for the artist to test the character of his work before
infusing the niello, as afterwards no corrections could be
made. This was effected by taking a mould in fine clay,
and from that a cast in sulphur, which, when the lines
were filled with a black colouring matter, presented the
same appearance as the plate itself would do when
niellated. This mode of procedure was followed until
Maso Finiguerra, of Florence, the ablest worker in niello
of his time, adopted the simpler plan of taking impres-

b 2



4 ENGRAVINGS AND THEIR VALUE.

sions direct from the plate. The first proof so obtained
is supposed to be that in the Bibliotheque at Paris, which
was taken from the pax of the Coronation of the Yirgin,
ordered in 1450, and delivered in 1452. Direct impressions
from the earliest metal plates are, however, thought by-
some, and especially by Willshire, to have been taken from
the Corona luminaria of Barbarossa, in the Cathedral of
Aix-la-Chapelle. However this may be, there is no doubt
that this great discovery directly suggested the practice
of true copper-plate engraving, of which Finiguerra is
universally regarded as the inventor.

Of all the modes of engraving in its more extended
sense, the most ancient is, however, that on wood, for
which we are indebted to the brief-malers (or card-
painters) of Germany, who not merely confined their
attention to the making of playing-cards, but frequently
executed the images of saints, and depictured the various
subjects connected with ancient history. These being
cut in wood, impressions were afterwards taken from
the block, thus furnishing the origin of "block-books,"
and perhaps supplying Gutenberg with his first ideas
of the typographical art.

The earliest print bearing a date with which we are
acquainted is known as the " Brussels Print " (a.d. 1418) ;
but so many doubts have been thrown on its genuineness
doubts which it would be out of place to argue here
that the advent of the art of engraving as now practised,
may, perhaps, more safely be fixed five years later. The
"St. Christopher," having the date 1423, and still pre-
served in the Carthusian Convent at Buxheim, must be
regarded as the earliest genuine print which has hitherto
come under the notice of collectors. The block from
which this impression was taken, was of wood, executed,
doubtless, by the card-painters to whom we have already
referred, and represents the infant Christ being carried
across the sea on the shoulders of St. Christopher.



THE ORIGIN OF ENGRAVING. 5

The invention of printing doubtless gave a great
stimulus to the art of engraving, as woodcuts were
almost from the first used in the embellishment of
books; and as the number of the latter increased, so
also would the practice of engraving become more general.
Schapff, who flourished in 1448, and Jacob Walch, the
supposed master of Michael Wolgemut, are the earliest
engravers of whom we have any record ; other and previous
artists, of whom probably there were many, being con-
founded with the printers until then very names are
lost. The art, therefore, which dates from the middle
of the fifteenth century, and which is almost coeval with
the invention of printing, includes not only the science
of engraving practised, as we have shown, many hundreds
of years before, and used merely for purposes of decora-
tion, but also the process of taking impressions from
engraved plates upon paper or other suitable substances.

The department of prints and drawings occupies only
a small space in the British Museum building, but its
contents should be, perhaps, more generally attractive
than any other of the collections. Etchings and engra-
vings of the different schools, from the earliest period
to recent times, are not only of the highest value for
the study of modern art, but are objects of enjoyment
easily appreciated by all classes. In the Print Room
the reader will find a collection of works illustrating the
invention of engraving on metal; while cases contain a
number of engraved silver plates, most of them niellated,
and illustrating the first step towards the great dis-
covery of Maso Finiguerra. In consequence of the
extremely fragile nature of the material of which they
are formed, but few of the sulphur casts taken, it may
be remembered, by the workers in niello as a proof or
test of their skill have survived to the present date.
The total number known to exist is only twenty-five,
and of these the British Museum possesses no less than



6 ENGRAVINGS AND THEIR VALUE.

nineteen. There is also a cast from the celebrated "pax"
in the Church of San Giovanni, at Florence. The
niellated silver plate itself is in the National Museum,
at Florence ; while the impression on paper, taken pre-
viously to the infusion of the niello, and already men-
tioned as being in the Bibliotheque at Paris, is interesting
as being the first proof ever taken direct from a metal
plate.

"We have not thought it necessary to consider the subject
of the history of engraving further than to point out a
few of the principal features. To enter into a f urther
discussion would demand greater space than we have at
out- disposal, and would also be out of place in a book
meant to be practical, and which is nothing if it fails
in that. Two or three chapters in Willshire's "Ancient
Prints " are devoted to historical details, and to this excel-
lent treatise the reader is referred for any further infor-
mation he may require on the subject.

The following prices were realised at Sir Mark Sykes'
sale in 1824 for impressions from works in niello, both
on paper and sulphur. The value of works of this class
will, however, have enormously increased at the present
day:

Impressions from Works in Niello.

1. The Madonna seated on a throne, with the Infant Saviour

in her lap. By Maso Finiguerra. 3 15s.

2. The Adoration of the Magi. By the same. 52 10s.

3. The Eagle Offered in Sacrifice. By Pellegrino di Cesia.

5.

4. The Triumph of Mars and Venus. By the same. .31 10s.

5. Orpheus. By the same. 4 6s.

6. Mutius Scaevola Burning off his Bight Hand. By the

same. 14 14s.

7. Hercules Combating the Hydra. By the same. 3 13s. 6d.

8. An impression, apparently taken from the reverse of a

medallion. Anonymous. =1 lis. 6d.

9. Tobit and the Angel. Anonymous. 6 6s.

10. A battle of three warriors on horseback. Anonymous.
32 lis.



THE ORIGIN OF ENGRAVING. 7

Impressions from Works of Niello in Sulphur.

11. A box containing seven impressions, representing the

Sacrifice of Cain and Abel, Cain Killing Abel, and other
Scriptural subjects. ,38 17s.

12. Christ Washing the Apostles' Feet, perfect; The Last

Supper, perfect ; The Crucifixion, perfect ; The Dead
Body of Christ, also perfect. .173 5s.

13. Christ Praying in the Garden, slightly injured. 36 15s.

14. The Ascension of Christ, perfect. 69 6s.

15. Christ Taken in the Garden, partly restored; Christ

Before Pilate, partly restored; Christ Releasing the
Patriarchs from limbo, perfect ; The Resurrection,
perfect. 126.



CHAPTER II.
VARIOUS METHODS OF ENGRAVING.

Engraving on Wood. "Wood-engraving first came
into common practice at the beginning of the fifteenth
century, rose to eminence in the time of Albert Durer,
and declined gradually during the seventeenth century,
until the days of Bewick, when it once more regained
its former excellence. At the present day, many wood-
engravings are of the greatest excellence, and compare
favourably with work executed in metal. In former times,
however, the reverse was the case, for, while a few prints
exist of which it is not easy to say whether they have
been printed from wooden blocks or metal plates, by far
the greater number are roughly designed, while some
are positively bad so bad, indeed, that connoisseurs of
acknowledged authority in other respects, seem to have
been infected with the belief that all are alike in point
of indifference, so surely does the continued contemplation
of mediocre subjects lead to a belief in general inferiority.

It must by no means be supposed that the mere fact
of an early engraving being indifferently, or even badly,
executed, is in itself sufficient to cause a deterioration
in its value : on the contrary, some of these ancient pro-
ductions sell for enormous sums, while others of better
design can hardly find a purchaser. The question of
value sometimes depends upon considerations other than



VARIOUS METHODS OF ENGRAVING. 9

those of merit, as will be explained when we arrive at the
chapter dealing with this branch of the subject.

The woods generally used by engravers are pear,
sycamore, and box, the two former being employed for
large or coarse cuts, where too close an inspection is
not, from the nature of the case, to be anticipated. Box-
wood, on the contrary, from its superior hardness and
grain, is admirably adapted for finer work, and is now
almost universally used where sharpness of outline is a
desideratum.

When the surface of the block is made perfectly flat
and smooth, it is prepared for drawing by means of a
very thin coating of Chinese white and brickdust, rubbed
up and mixed together with a drop or two of water,
applied by the fingers. Some lay this mixture on with a
brush, but much the better plan is to rub it on the surface
of the block with the palm of the hand, and soften off
with the tips of the fingers.

A tracing of the drawing being made in sharp lines
with a soft pencil, is transferred to the wood by the
tracing paper being first turned over and laid flat on
the surface, secured from shifting by turning down at the
edges, being fixed by a little soap or wax, then the lines
are gone over with a hard pencil, e.g., a HHHHHH,
or a steel point, the object being to produce a clean
outline for the artist to make a finished drawing of.

If pencil lines alone are employed, the drawing is
termed "in facsimile," and does not require any special skill
on the part of the engraver. If, on the contrary, the
drawing is made with a brush, using Indian ink and
Chinese white, it then becomes necessary for the engraver
to be an artist, to enable him to produce by means of lines,
technically called a " tint," what the artist has produced
by body colour. Many subjects, such as portraits, copies
of pictures, &c, are photographed on the wood; and in
such cases it is even more essential that the engraver



10 ENGRAVINGS AND THEIR VALUE.

should, in addition, be an artist. It is a matter of doubt
whether the old and greater masters of the art, like Durer,
ever actually cut blocks at all. There were in those days,
as there are now, professional engravers who merely
worked after the design, sending it back from time to
time for further details : and this probably was the course
usually adopted in early days, since in no other way
can the large number of works ascribed to the old masters
be accounted for.

When the engraving is finished, but before the super-
fluous wood is cut away the object of leaving this being
that it may act as supports to protect fine lines, &c. the
surface of the block is covered with a thin coating of
printer's ink, applied with a soft " dabber," covered with
silk, or an ordinary printer's roller, or else one covered
with leather. To take an impression, a piece of india-
paper is laid face downwards on the block ; a stout
smooth card is laid on that, and gentle pressure is applied
by rubbing with a steel "burnisher." The impression
thus obtained is called an " overlay " proof : it is usual for
the artist to suggest on this, by means of flake white or
a soft pencil, the alterations required. "When these have
been made, the engraver will take a finished proof by
first cutting out with a penknife or tool those portions of
the overlay proof that have received impression from
the superfluous wood previously spoken of. On re-inking
the block, these are placed on their corresponding places,
and are called " bearers "; the object being, this time, to
take a proof of only those parts engraved. India-paper
and card will be placed as before, and if the operator be
an adept, a beautifully clear impression will be obtained.
Great practice and a light touch are necessary for the
production of good proofs. The engraver thus proves
his work, so to speak, and this is the origin of the word
" proof," a term which oflate years has been much abused,
as we shall have occasion hereafter to point out.



VARIOUS METHODS OF ENGRAVING. 11

It will now be observed that impressions are, in the
case of wood, taken by inking the projections, whence
it follows that the black and tinted portions are left
even with the surface, while the parts intended to be
left white are cut out. A wood block is, therefore, said
to be engraved in cameo or relief, forming a marked
contrast to engraving on metal, where the incisions are
filled with ink and the rest of the plate wiped perfectly
clean. This latter process is called intaglio, and here the
parts cut away are meant to show black, while the surface
makes no mark, and consequently shows white. The one
process is thus seen to be the exact reverse of the other.

When the engraving meets with the artist's approval,
prints are taken from it by means of a press ; in fact, it
is only necessary to observe that the printing of wood
blocks is, in its simpler form, precisely similar to
printing from type, and that both are generally done at
one and the same time. It is a very great question
whether the early engravers used a press, as we do now,
or whether they merely took impressions by means of
friction. The controversy on this point will probably
never be finally settled, but as Gutenberg is known to
have used a screw-press in his printing, operations so
early as 1439, it may be safely assumed that its con-
venience would speedily be recognised in the case of
engraving also.

The paper on which the early woodcuts were printed
will be found to be exceedingly thick and coarse, manu-
factured probably from hempen fibre. The ink, usually
a pale bistre, appears to have been watery and thin,
and the result, of course, a certain indistinctness of out-
line, which is seldom observed at the present day, when
experience has taught a complete reversal of practice
in these respects.

Chatto's "History of Wood-Engraving" gives a clear
and succinct account of the processes which have brought



12 ENGRAVINGS AND THEIR VALUE.

the art to its present state of perfection ; and to this work
the reader is referred for additional information. It may
not be out of place to mention that, in addition to
several wood blocks in the possession of the Trustees of
the British Museum, the Spencer Library at Althorpe
possesses more than one xylographic block; while a fine
collection of 135 others may be seen in the Imperial
Library at Yienna by any of our readers who happen
to visit that city. Another interesting fact worthy of
note is that the first illustrated newspaper ever pub-
lished in England was issued in 1643, under the title of
" Mercurius Civicus, or London's Intelligencer." The first
number contains portraits of Charles I. and Fairfax, both
fairly executed on wood. Since those days, the art of the
wood-engraver has passed through a period of neglect, and
finally emerged again to find itself almost universally
adopted where strong contrasts of light and shade are
necessary to be drawn.

Engraving on Metal. As we have already men-
tioned, engraving on metal is at the present day executed
in intaglio, but specimens in relief or cameo are occa-
sionally met with. It is possible that some of the oldest
prints were executed in this manner, and that metal
plates were cut on precisely the same principle as was
followed in the case of engraving on wood. Indeed,
many engravings which have been usually regarded as
bad impressions from wood blocks, have of late years



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