Book History of Wood-engraving (Book 17148200),
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History of Wood-engraving

  • Ferra 1497.HE beginning of the art of wood-engraving in Europe, the time when paper was first laid down upon an engraved wood block and the first rude print was taken off, is unknown; the name of the inventor and his country are involved in a double obscurity of ignorance and fable, darkened still more by national jealousies and vanities; even the mechanical appliances and processes which led up to and at last resulted in the new art, can only be conjectured. The art had long lain but just beyond the border-line of discovery. The principle of making impressions by means of lines cut in relief upon wood was known to the ancients, who used engraved wooden stamps to indent figures and letters in soft substances like wax and clay, and, possibly, to print colors on surfaces, as had been done from early times in India in the manufacture of cloth; similar stamps were used in the Middle Ages by notaries and other public officers to print signatures on documents, by Italian cloth-makers to impress colors on silk and other fabrics, and by the illuminators of manuscripts to strike the outlines of initial letters. This practice may have suggested the new process.
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