Color Printing Samples

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Victorian Color Printing Album. [London, 1890s]. Graphic Arts (GAX) 2010- in process.

This lovely album of fancy color printing may be a sample book of M. L. Jonas Wolf & co, Ltd, of 21 Australian Avenue, London. The volume offers examples of printing on forty-five unnumbered leaves, with approximately 135 samples (both mounted and unmounted), most of them numbered in pencil on the blank leaf above the sample. A few are dated: 1896 and 1897. Some have M.L. Jonas Wolf’s stamp on the back.

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Judging by the nature of the images here, it seems that the company produced standard, pleasing images designed to be used for decorative purposes such as greetings cards, calendars, menus, advertisements and other mass-produced printed products. The pictures are largely designed to appeal to the dreams of the aspirant middle class: cherubic children and kittens, shepherdesses, lords and ladies in historical dress, soldiers and sailors, and colorful animals.
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The mounted images, which vary from about 200 x 150mm to 450 x 300mm in size, are all numbered in the same hand in pencil, and it is probable that the volume was part reference and part sample book. Annotations read, for instance, “21047 grained block” or “21182 varnished block” or “21061 gelatined, incrusted, block” (the last named being partly raised and gilt, and available as an alternative 21060 without incrustation). Some of the blocks include movables or flaps. One image of a sailor has him climbing up (or down) a real rope. A calendar, pictured above, entitled Sunny Days, has the months concealed by the wings of six butterflies, whose wings can be folded back to check a date.

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Mary Bale the cat lady reminds me of one of Bladerunner's replicants - straight after the 'entre of boiled dog' query in the Voight-Kampff test; "You find a cat alone in the street. You pet it, and then what?"