- Museum number
Britannia. A Monthly Magazine. Edited by Arthur À Beckett. Volume II. London: [Britannia] Office, 199, Strand, W. C., 1869. [London:] Taylor and Co., Printers, Little Queen Street, Lincoln’s Inn Fields. iv, 580p.; 96p. 24 plates. The illustrations are after Matt Morgan. Most are signed by him. The plate facing page 132 is after Matthew Morgan, and is captioned : “Major Blake utterly nonplussed”, accompanying “The commentaries of Major Blake”, chapter XIV, by Francis Cowley Burnand. . The plate between pages 540 and 541 is captioned “Death in the work-room”, accompanying a poem by F. A. M. [probably Francis Albert Marshall] entitled “Death in the workshop”. The plate between pages 48 and 49 [of January 1870, volume III?] is captioned: “Britannia’s Pr[e?]ccy for 1870”; it is unsigned [probably after Matthew Morgan] but has the word: “Graphotype” printed in the left hand corner.
Binding: Pink endpapers and pastedowns. . Blue pebble-grain cloth. Two fillets are blocked on the border of both covers, in blind on the lower cover, and in gold on the upper. On the centre of the upper cover the title words: “/ Britannia [in a semi-circle]/ Vol. 2./ a Monthly Magazine. [in a semi-circle] are blocked in gold in ‘Gothic’ lettering. The spine is blocked in gold. At the head and at the tail, between two gold fillets blocked across the spine, small stylised decoration is blocked in gold. Near the head, the words:”/ Britannia/ Magazine/ Vol. 2./” are blocked in gold.
- Production date
Height: 220 millimetres
Thickness: 50 millimetres
Width: 160 millimetres
- Curator's comments
Wakeman, Geoffrey. Victorian book illustration. The technical revolution. Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1973, pp. 95 to 98.
Hindsight makes it obvious that photography was to carry all before it in the field of book illustration, but it was not so apparent in the 186os. At least one quite significant autographic method was being publicised and used commercially during this decade, and that was graphotype; and, though it was more successful than the others, it was not the only method put for¬ward in England. It was invented by an American artist and wood engraver, De Witt Clinton Hitchcock, of New York, and in England was taken up by Henry Fitz-Cook, who formed a limited company called The Graphotyping Company to promote it. Edward Roper was one of the promoters and the process was patented in the name of B. Day in 186 (No 664). The first steps in the invention were taken in the summer of 186o, when Hitchcock was making a drawing on a wood block for engraving. He had to erase part of his drawing, and, to re-whiten the surface of the block, used the 'enamelled' surface of a visiting card, presumably a polished coating of china clay. The surface was removed with a brush and water, and then Hitchcock noticed that the printed letters on the card were standing up in relief. This led him to experiment with a piece of chalk about un thick on which he drew with ink made from silicate of potash coloured with indigo. He made a drawing 4in by 6in and changed it into a relief block by rubbing the surface of the chalk with a toothbrush, causing it to disintegrate wherever the ink was not present. He then covered the entire surface of the block with silicate and took a proof from it. He optimistically named the process graphotype, meaning a print made from chalk, but unfortunately the chalk would not stand up to the pressure of the press, even when specially compacted blocks were made with a hydraulic press, and it had to be stereotyped or electro¬typed. The compressed chalk block was first burnished and sized. The artist traced his design in reverse on to the block and then filled in the lines with special ink made of glue and lampblack, and then the untouched chalk was removed with brushes of fitch-hair and the whole surface treated with silicate.
The main advantage of the process, stressed by the promoters, was its autographic nature; and an advertisement in Britannia for January 1869 claimed that the cost of a graphotype was half that of a wood engraving. The best known book in which graphotype was used was Isaac Watts' Divine and Moral Songs for Children, with illustrations by Holman Hunt, published by Nisbet & Co in 1866. The artist was very satisfied with the results, particularly since no wood engraver had been necessary. Examples appeared in Nature and Art in December 1866 and Once a Week in Feb¬ruary 1867. It was used in other books from time to time—Toby Almanack for 1868, edited by Percy Cruickshank; H. K. Browne's Racing and Chasing, the Road, the River and the Hunt; and Florence Claxton's The Adventures of a Woman in Search of Her Rights, both undated. It seems that unsuccessful attempts were made to apply photography to graphotype, for a pamphlet pub¬lished in 1874 and entitled Specimens of Photo-graphotype Engrav¬ing claimed that it could be used for copying plates already
printed, in a variety of styles. Although examples of this facsimile printing are shown in the pamphlet, no details are given. Ap¬parently The Graphotyping Company eventually failed, since a report in the Process Photogram for 1897 says that it was taken over by Daiziel Brothers. Later writers claimed that it was a failure: Bolas wrote in 1884, 'Some years ago the "graphotype" process made a little stir, but it did not compete with wood engraving to any extent . . .', and Carl Hentschel in his paper to the Society of Arts in 1900 mentions graphotype having been used 'some thirty-four years ago' but 'although to a certain degree ingenious and original, it was not found sufficiently practical'.
A full list of contents and the authors is at: http://www.philsp.com/homeville/fmi/t/t1470.htm
Glesson White. 'English illustrations 1855-70', page 80:
“..it [Britannia] was illustrated solely by Matt Morgan, a brilliant but ephemeral genius who shortly after migrated to New York. The peculiarity of this journal is that, like The Tomahawk, an illustrated journal illustrated by the same artist, its pictures were all printed in two colours, after the fashion of old Victorian wood-blocks. The one colour was used as a ground with the high lights cut away; the other block, for the ordinary convention of line drawing.”
- Not on display
- Associated titles
Associated Title: The Commentaries of Major Blake.
Associated Title: Fallen among thieves.
Associated Title: Death in the Workshop.
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number