Questions on 19th Century Chromolithography [Archive] - Artist Forum

: Questions on 19th Century Chromolithography


Tanner Jones
04-26-2020, 09:44 AM
Hello! I am a baseball card collector and have become fascinated with 19th century baseball cards. I am dying to know how these were created! I know they were done using chromolithography, and have found very interesting articles (even trade cards!) depicting how it was done, but I have a few holes in my understanding of how they work.

First, here is an image of a 19th century album - the trading cards are pictured in the album.

http://mycollectionofcards.com/baseballcards/031120/allenginteralbum.jpg

Here are the cards themselves:

https://tanmanbaseballfan.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/ns28.jpg

and even more ...

https://tanmanbaseballfan.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/goodwins.jpg

So, here is my understanding so far:
- An artist draws/paints a picture
- A limestone is quarried and prepared
- A copier looks by eye and copies the drawing/painting on the limestone by hand
- The limestone is prepared by with chemicals to "etch" the drawing/painting "into" the stone, so when ink is applied, only the drawing/painting part picks up the ink
- a paper is pressed onto the stone ... for each color/shade
- the piece is done

So, here are my questions:
- These baseball cards are only an inch or so wide by a couple inches tall. Did someone really create such a small drawing/painting and copy it by eye on a stone? Would they have done all "miniature portraits" on the same stone?
- Given the color and shades used, how many different passes would you assume the baseball cards and album above needed?
- How automated was this process? It seems as though much of this would have had to have been by hand, or at least with a lot of intervention, but this photo here somewhat confuses me, as it looks like a trade card is being produced using a massive machine and is turning out multiple copies per sheet....

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-c5mTfd_16dI/Tnwnhw3oJOI/AAAAAAAAE14/Rlv-IqOWEWw/s1600/liebig+5.jpg

- how could this be done unless there were multiple stones of the same image?

- Would also further love to hear how such a "press" (if that's what it is called) works. So much of it is confusing and yet wildly interesting to me.

Thank you so much in advanced for any answers and help you can provide!