Chromolithograph postcards are in my opinion one of the most under-rated types of postcard. In good condition they are far superior to modern printed cards. These are mostly pre-WWI and printed in 'Old Germany', e.g. Bavaria, Saxony, Prussia etc by firms such as Stengel, although other firms, notably Sborgi, in Florence, Italy, also produced them. For more examples you can type ' tylcoat postcards' into Google & click on one of the results near the top entitled 'POSTCARDS' and that will take you to my postcards page (the pictures on this eBay Guide page are a little small, I can't make them any bigger, there are better examples on my own pages) .
In Chromolithography an image is drawn onto stone (usually limestone), another stone is inked with oil-based paints or greasy pens, and pressed against the stone bearing the image. A different stone is required for each colour, and each colour must be applied one at a time. It was not unusual for twenty to twenty-five stones to be used on only one image. Once the colours have been applied, the stone with the complete coloured image is pressed against a sheet of paper; each sheet of paper will pass through the press as many times as there are colours in the final print. In order for the prints in progress to avoid being covered over by the next colour being applied, each print must be precisely ‘registered,’ or lined up, on the next coloured plate. A coating of gum and weak acid solution is applied to the plate, because the solution helps the grease drawing adhere to and penetrate the plate while causing the blank areas to repel the printing ink. The plate is then dampened, inked, and then passed through the press along with the paper receiving the impression. Although “chromos” could be mass produced, it can take about three months to draw colours onto the stones and another five months to print a thousand copies.
How to tell if a postcard is a Chromolithograph - you will need to examine a postcard using a magnifier, 10x is sufficient.
The first 3 pictures below show chromolithograph PCs, the images are made up of random solid colours, one on top of the other.
The last picture is colour printed - the image is made up of regular dots or patterns.
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6 June 2012
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