Charles Heath made his first etching when he was six years old and in 1840, was responsible for engraving on steel the world’s first postage stamps. It is his skill engraving on steel rather than copper, for which he is best remembered today.
“Heath was also a pioneer in new printmaking techniques… . In 1820, for an edition of Thomas Campbell’s poem Pleasures of Hope, he engraved the first plates on mild steel rather than copper, giving much longer production runs from each plate. In larger commercial plates he was less successful. By contrast his View from Richmond Hill and his Gentlemen of the Time of Charles I, together with his Christ Healing the Sick, were masterpieces of their kind.
In 1821 and again in 1826, Charles Heath got into financial difficulties, but quickly recovered following an energetic diversion into the new fashion for illustrated annuals and giftbooks… . From 1825 onwards he was almost entirely occupied first in engraving for The Amulet, Literary Souvenir, and Landscape Annual, and then in promoting his own productions, notably The Keepsake, Picturesque Annual, the Book of Beauty, and similar publications such as J. M. W. Turner’s Picturesque Views in England and Wales.” —Dictionary of National Biography