IES - In this section

Lead tutor: Professor Michael Twyman

Other tutors: Dr Rob Banham, Professor Eric Kindel, Geoff Wyeth, Martin Andrews and Alan Hardie (tbc)

The course will introduce participants to all the most important colour printing processes of nineteenth and early twentieth-century Europe and America, and also to a few of the rarer ones. All sessions will be based on original graphic material (books, magazines, prints, posters, sheet- music covers, and small-scale ephemera), in most cases backed up by looking at related blocks, stones and plates. There will be demonstrations of letterpress, lithographic, and intaglio printing at appropriate points in the week. We shall consider colour printing in the context of social, artistic, technical, and industrial developments, but will put emphasis on the study of original material and what we can learn together from it.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course everyone should have a good understanding of how the main processes of colour printing worked and the impact they had on many facets of life. Participants will also be aware of the various commercial applications of colour printing and the reasons for their success and failure in a rapidly changing world. The three-pronged approach (through demonstrations, the study of printing surfaces, and close investigation of printed matter under the loupe) should enable everyone to identify the principal printing processes of the period and to describe items produced by them appropriately.

Short list of recommended books

Burch, Robert M., Colour printing and colour printers, with a chapter on modern processes by W. Gamble (London: Isaac Pitman & Sons, 1910; reprinted with an introduction by Ruari McLean,  Edinburgh; Paul Harris, 1983).

Freedman, Joan M., Color printing in England 1486–1870 (New Haven: Yale Center for British Art, 1978).

Gascoigne, Bamber, How to identify prints (Thames & Hudson, 1986; 2nd edn, 2004).                     

––– Milestones in colour printing 1457–1859with a bibliography of Nelson prints (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).

Last, Jay T., The color explosion: nineteenth-century American lithography (Santa Ana, CA, Hillcrest Press, 2005).

Lewis, Charles Thomas Courtney, George Baxter the picture printer (London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co., [1924]).

McLean, Ruari, Victorian book design and colour printing (London: Faber & Faber, 1972).

––– Victorian publishers’ book-bindings in paper (London: Gordon Fraser, 1983).

Marzio, Peter C., Chromolithography 1840–1900. The democtratic art: pictures for a 19th-century America (Boston: David R. Godine, 1979; London: Scolar Press, 1980).

Reese, William S., Stamped with a national character: nineteenth century American color plate books (New York: The Grolier Club, 1999).

Twyman, Michael, A history of chromolithography: colour printing for all (London: British Library; New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll, 2013).

––– Printing 1770–1970: an illustrated history of its developmenet and uses in England (London, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1970; reprinted The British Library, 1998).

Wakeman, Geoffrey and Gavin D. R. Bridson, A guide to nineteenth century colour printers (Loughborough: The Plough Press, 1975).


Michael Twyman

Michael Twyman is Emeritus Professor of Typography & Graphic Communication at the University of Reading, where he has been for longer that he cares to remember. He has taught at Rare Book Schools in Charlottesville, Dunedin, Lyon, and Melbourne and given one-off lectures and conference papers round the world. He is currently Director of the Centre for Ephemera Studies at Reading, and also introduces postgraduate students to aspects of the history of graphic design by working with original material. He has written numerous articles on printing history and graphic design, and over a dozen books, from Printing 1770–1970 (1970, 1998) to his more recent A history of chromolithography (2013). He is President of the Ephemera Society and Vice President of the Printing Historical Society.