Collection: Antique Lithographs

Lithography was invented in 1796 by German author and actor Alois Senefelder as a cheap method to publish theatrical works. He used Bavarian limestone as the original printing surface. The invention of the process enabled artists to show a wider range of tones than had been possible with earlier relief or intaglio methods. Also by using different stones with other tints it was possible to over-print other colours on the same piece of paper. The process is based on the simple fact that oil and water don't mix.
The image is applied to a grained surface (traditionally stone) using a greasy medium, such as a special greasy ink – called tusche. A solution of gum arabic and nitric acid is then applied over the surface, producing water-receptive non-printing areas and grease-receptive image areas. The printing surface is kept wet, so that a roller charged with oil-based ink can be rolled over the surface, and ink will only stick to the grease-receptive image area. Paper is then placed against the surface and the plate is run through a press.

Godefroy Englemann of Mulhouse in France was awarded a patent on chromolithography in July 1837, but there are disputes over whether it was already in use before this date. Chromolithography is identical to lithography, but multiple colours and printing stones are used. One stone or plate for each colour, and sometimes up to 12 different plates were used. A key outline image and registration bars are applied to each stone or plate before drawing. Each sheet of paper will therefore pass through the press as many times as there are colours in the print. To ensure that the each layer of printing is in exactly the right position, each plate is lined up using the registration marks.

49 products
  • Hedge Woundwort - Antique Wild Flower Lithograph, circa 1860's
    Hedge Woundwort - Antique Wild Flower Lithograph circa 1860s
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  • Thyme-leaved Sandwort - Antique Wild Flower Lithograph, circa 1860's
    Thyme-leaved Sandwort - Antique Wild Flower Lithograph circa 1860s
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  • Cornish Money Wort - Antique Wild Flower Lithograph, circa 1860's
    Cornish Money Wort - Antique Wild Flower Lithograph circa 1860s
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  • Keeled Corn Salad - Antique Wild Flower Lithograph, circa 1860's
    Keeled Corn Salad - Antique Wild Flower Lithograph circa 1860s
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  • Sea Thrift - Antique Wild Flower Lithograph, circa 1860's
    Sea Thrift - Antique Wild Flower Lithograph circa 1860s
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  • Common Dodder - Antique Wild Flower Lithograph, circa 1860's
    Common Dodder - Antique Wild Flower Lithograph circa 1860s
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  • Ladies' Tresses - Antique Wild Flower Lithograph, circa 1860's
    Ladies Tresses - Antique Wild Flower Lithograph circa 1860s
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  • Kidney Vetch - Antique Wild Flower Lithograph, circa 1860's
    Kidney Vetch - Antique Wild Flower Lithograph circa 1860s
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  • Wild Mignonette - Antique Wild Flower Lithograph, circa 1860's
    Wild Mignonette - Antique Wild Flower Lithograph circa 1860s
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  • Bindweed - Antique Wild Flower Lithograph, circa 1860's
    Bindweed - Antique Wild Flower Lithograph circa 1860s
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  • Sun Spurge - Antique Wild Flower Lithograph, circa 1860's
    Sun Spurge - Antique Wild Flower Lithograph circa 1860s
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  • Pasque-Flower - Antique Wild Flower Lithograph, circa 1860's
    Pasque-Flower - Antique Wild Flower Lithograph circa 1860s
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