Any info on engraving techniques during the 19th century?

Questions on polishing, restoration, conservation + manufacturing techniques

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deadenhal
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Any info on engraving techniques during the 19th century?

Postby deadenhal » Wed Sep 18, 2013 4:41 am

Hi there

I was wondering if anyone had some information regarding the processes used to engrave silver (and other soft metals like brass etc) during the early 1800's right up until the end of the Victorian era? I am particularly fascinated about the tools they used for the fine engraving as well as their turntables for movement.

Would really love to learn more about this process.

Thank you so much

JLDoggett
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Re: Any info on engraving techniques during the 19th century

Postby JLDoggett » Wed Sep 18, 2013 8:37 pm

Most hand-engraving (non-electric) has remained basically unchanged since the mid 1700's. There have been minor changes to the tools. I believe if you brought a Master Engraver from the past to a shop today he would be able to sit down, recognize most of the tools and do the same work he did 250 years ago.

deadenhal
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Re: Any info on engraving techniques during the 19th century

Postby deadenhal » Wed Sep 18, 2013 8:44 pm

How fascinating!

So am I correct in thinking that the main tools involved in fine hand engraving were called gravers and burins?

Was there a proper name for the hand propelled turntable that the engraver would use to manoeuvre the object being engraved?

My thanks again

dognose
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Re: Any info on engraving techniques during the 19th century

Postby dognose » Thu Sep 19, 2013 3:24 am

I was always under the impression that the engraver worked on a leather sandbag as a base rather than a turntable.

A pair of them are shown in fig.7 and clamps are shown resting on them in fig.9.

Image

If you Google 'engraving sandbag', there are many images of them to be seen.

The terms 'Graver' and 'Burin' are both to be found in the silver glossary at: http://www.925-1000.com/silverglossary3.html

Trev.

deadenhal
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Joined: Mon Sep 02, 2013 11:37 am

Re: Any info on engraving techniques during the 19th century

Postby deadenhal » Thu Sep 19, 2013 3:50 pm

Yet again, this forum has proved itself to be an amazing source of information. You were absolutely right about the sand filled leather pads.

Thanks again for taking your time in responding

oel
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Re: Any info on engraving techniques during the 19th century

Postby oel » Thu Sep 19, 2013 3:51 pm

Hi,
Some helpful links about engraving some with what looks like a turn table.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgMqqA9bge4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRhLo3E5474


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1ua9zpFQjU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZkARnmO ... 5B9E9CE71C

You can find most of it on YouTube.

Best,

Oel.

Francais

Re: Any info on engraving techniques during the 19th century

Postby Francais » Thu Sep 19, 2013 7:44 pm

I think you have to differentiate between engraving a monogram, from decorative engraving.
Monograms, initials and simple engraving didn't change much until electric engravers were invented.
But decorative engraving changes significantly after about 1860, give or take depending on the country and local.
In any case about that time engine turning was invented. Basically it replaced to some extent hand engraving. A machine was invented to repeat the engraving process cheaply. Originally the lines were just parallel or wavy parallel lines, but eventually they became very ornate.
After that time i believe tables were used, even with most hand engraving, to be able to repeat a particular design easily. So pieces could be completely covered with repetitive work, relatively cheaply. Before that time they did not usually completely cover a piece with decoration, or at least it was expensive to do so. There are plenty of exceptions, like repoussee work very popular in the Victorian era. In the 17th c. the serpent or snake skin pattern was very popular, especially on beakers. While technically not engraving, like wriggle work, it was something that could easily be turned over to an apprentice who could simply take a circle stamp and repeat the stamp over most of the body.
Maurice

oel
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Re: Any info on engraving techniques during the 19th century

Postby oel » Fri Sep 20, 2013 3:29 am

Engine turning machines were invented perhaps as early as the 16th century and for metal (silver) used 18th century. Not hand engraved but the engraving done by a machine operated by man.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guilloch%C3%A9
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose_engine_lathe

On You Tube fascinating little movies about engine turning:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MS_G8Vm1gyQ


Oel.

Francais

Re: Any info on engraving techniques during the 19th century

Postby Francais » Fri Sep 20, 2013 9:12 pm

I wouldn't exclude the Roman Empire, as they had lathes and factories. I don't think that is the point. Watches, and other small objects are really not the subject. When did watches start being engine turned, I have no idea. When did they become commonly engine turned, not until the mid 19th c. at least in America, no doubt earlier in Europe. The first engine turning to be used on domestic silver was probably in the factories of Mathew Boulton in the 18th c.. it is not because the Romans were somehow stupider, they just didn't have the impetus. Engine turning, much the same as a table for engraving, was a modern mass production technique. Why spend a lot of time, energy, invention, etc. to create a table when a leather sack works just as good for hand engraving.
Exactly the same thing can be said about turning, or spinning. Beakers were raised in the 18th c. then seamed by some, and turned,or spun, by others c. 1800, but turning was not used in the US until about 1850. Finally beakers were drop forged. Of course flatware was commonly drop forged before beakers, because the weight necessary was less. Does that mean silver wasn't turned before 1800, no because I have had turned pieces from the 17th c. But it does mean that it wasn't common, and if someone claims a goblet is raised c. 1850 in America (as one book on Southern silver did) they are wrong. By 1850 mass production came to America, and goblets were spun.
We could carry this to an extreme, who invented the punch card, I would have thought someone just before I went to university in 62, but they were used in Jaccard production over 100 years earlier. The point to be made is that there was a time that varied from country to country, from silversmith to silversmith, etc when engraving changed, the methods changed, the tools used, at least when we talk about the support of the object, changed. The technique in the first video, which I call wriggle work, was a cheap method of engraving. It was used by apprentices to decorate silver, like mass produced Indian Trade silver. It is a technique that fills the bill, cheaply, and quickly. It should really not be compared in quality to the hand engraving produced by 18th c. silversmiths.
Maurice


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