View single post by OnePotato
 Posted: Mon Nov 4th, 2019 04:13 pm
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OnePotato



Joined: Sun Sep 9th, 2007
Location: USA
Posts: 324
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Hi Peter.

I do not know how many copies they printed for each of the known editions. Probably a few thousand. It was a much slower process than modern printing, but it was somewhat mechanized, and probably faster than you are envisioning....

Large stones were easily available back then, and they would almost certainly have done the entire deck ganged up on a single large stone, on a large sheet of paper. These days, as I understand it, the German limestone quarry that supplied all of the stones for lithography throughout the years has closed, so all we have to work with is what we have. Stones break, (Usually from the extreme pressure of the press. In my experience, the breaks happen very suddenly, and dramatically, with a big POP! I've never heard of a slow crack developing and spreading across a stone over time.) and they get discarded, or continue on as smaller stones if the fragments are big enough to still use. The bigger ones break more often, because it's harder to keep the pressure evenly distributed. Since the supply is finite, as the years go by, we end up with fewer big ones, and more smaller ones. Given this problem, we now have alternatives to traditional stone, including specially developed metal plates that behave similarly to stone.

When printing from stone:
- You would have a separate stone for each separate color.
- Each color is printed on a separate pass through the press.
- You would print all copies of a given color, before moving on to the next color.
- You could have as many colors of ink as you like, but each requires a stone and a separate pass, so the more colors you have, the more time & work it would take to complete your job. This fact lead to the development of a number of techniques that could create the appearance of more color variations, without using separate inks. Hatching, cross-hatching, or stippling, could all produce an "optical mixing" effect. Some degree of transparency in the inks could also produce color variation by overprinting one color over another. The sequence of the colors does matter, but it depends on what specific colors are used, and how the particular pigments behave. These kinds of technical abilities varied from individual printer to printer, as you can see when you compare the various Pamela deck versions.
- Litho stones are re-useable by nature. Step one of the printing process is to re-surface the stone by grinding it down with abrasives, thus erasing the previous image and creating a fresh, clean surface to work on. This is probably why we don't have the original stones from any Pamela decks: They COULD have been put aside and saved, or they could just as easily have been turned into theater posters, or fashion catalogs, or any number of more mundane printed thingsā€¦.

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