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Wednesday’s women wood engravers …

September 17, 2014

Wood engraving as a commercial trade ended when photogravure was established in the 1880s.  Although photogravure line blocks could be made from actual drawings more sophisticated collotype could produce anything captured by the camera.

Wood engraving ceased to be a secure profession and therefore women engravers  were no longer a threat.

It was the Arts and Crafts movement that was able to maintain the wood engraving trade and give it life.  The private press industry formed in the the late 19th century and flourished.

Presses such as Vale, Eragny, Kelmscott and Ashendene were founded in family homes in which women became involved beside the men.  Morris continued to welcome the work of women from his undergraduate days.  When he published the first number of the Oxford and Cambridge Magazine in 1856 it included  decorated capital letters which had been engraved on wood by Mary Byfield, she was not at the time given credit for the work.   

2014-09-16 17.45.02

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