Bromoil Transfers or Reproductions?
D.R. Peretti Griva ROMA 91 Bromoil Transfers Folio 1949
ebay Item number: 280235958900
The above folio of "bromoil transfers" is on ebay. I am having a friendly debate with the seller. He contends that these are original bromoil transfers. I argue that they are high quality reproductions.
1. There are 91 images and the edition size was 1,000. To me, for Griva to hand ink 91,000 matrices for transfer and to tranfer the images onto paper using a hand "etching type" press is unrealistic. A little math: say the artist worked on transferring these images 40 hours each week. Let's say he's super fast, taking 15 minutes for soaking and inking each matrix for transfer. That's 22,500 hours of making transfers - or over 10 years with a 40 hour work week!
2. We know that the matrix will blister after a certain amount of transfers and at some point it becomes unusable. How many matices would have to be made of the same image to transfer a thousand copies of one image? Too many in my opinion!
3. I have a folio of 54 "transfers" by this same artist - Griva, dated 1954. The prints are beautiful. There is a sunken plate mark on each, but they are all too perfect. The paper is fairly lightweight, maybe 60 lb. If this paper were subjected to running through a press sandwiched with a damp matrix, I contend the paper would not be perfectly flat as all pages are. There would be traces and clues of imperfection, IMO.
I have examined the images with a loupe. There are no halftone dots, an argument used by those who say these are original transfers. I feel that they were transferred onto a lithographic stone or plate and then reproduced. Or, perhaps collotype?
Other pages from this folio / book have been auction on ebay recently and they too have been described as "original bromoil transfers." Some of the individual pages from Griva's book have brought in the $275 range at auction on ebay!
Does anyone here know how the Italian bromoilist, D.R. Peretti Griva, reproduced his bromoils for books with edition sizes of appriximately 1,000?
Last edited by Gene_Laughter; 06-14-2008 at 05:18 PM. Click to view previous post history.
After discussions with the seller about the time it would take to make 90,000 bromoil transfer prints on a hand press, he agreed and retracted the part of the description saying that these are original bromoil transfer prints. I'm still puzzled about what printing process was used to reproduce the original prints?
I do expect to see pages of this book to be auctioned soon on ebay as "original bromoil transfers."
AFAIK, Gravure is the only printing process that yields a continuous tone image. The image is etched onto a cylinder which is coated with ink and the excess is scraped off. The depth of the etch governs the ink density. Some gravure printing is amazing quality.
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The cylinder method is called rotogravure, and there are some very fine examples of this process that were printed. The Brassai book 'Paris de Nuit' was originally printed with what the french call heliogravure, which is the same as our photogravure. Another edition of this book was printed in France in 1987 that used most of the original plates as they could lay hands on. It is beautiful, and can still be found if you scrounge around Alibris or Abe Books.
One other method of producing continuous tone prints with ink is called the collotype. It was pretty commonly used in the late 19th and early 20th century for illustrations in books. It used hard plates with differentially hardened gelatin forming the image area. It used the same phenomenon that bromoil and bromoil transfer exploits in that gelatin swollen with water will repel ink.
Collotype also yields a continuous tone image. Looking at these prints through a loupe with my somewhat untrained eye, I didn't think that it was gravure of collotype. I could be wrong, however. I was hoping someone from Italy knew how the plates in the book "ROMA" were reproduced.
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Clay, I posted my last reply before I read yours. Usually collotype has a retriculation pattern that can be detected with a loupe. These didn't. BTW, how are you progressing on your collotype project?
Gene, the collotypes that I have in my possession all have a distinctive reticulation pattern formed by the gelatin as it has dried in the oven. So from my limited exposure to good examples of this process, yes, I think you should see something resembling a microscopically small version of the mud cracks you might see on a desert floor. It is not visible without a 8 or 10x loupe, however.
What sort of pattern (if any) did you observe in these prints? I would think that if it was an offset process, then that would be pretty obvious too.
The book I have on collotype did indicate that there were some collotype ateliers in Italy. I will pull it out and see if any are named.
As far as my collotype exploration, I have assembled a lot of the materials I need, but I am waiting for enough free time to make a decent oven to 'bake' the plates.
I'm back. I just pulled out my copy of 'Studio Collotype', and looked in the history section to see if it would be plausible that these could be collotype. I think it is possible. The use of collotype faded very quickly after WWII, but there were still a few ateliers on both sides of the Atlantic still producing work. And after looking at the examples in the book of the gelatin reticulation, it appears that my examples on hand may be unusually apparent. The books says that without powerful magnification, it can sometimes be impossible to even see the reticulation pattern.
If you have the book, an offset process will be obvious. If you see the dots, the voila, that is what it is. But if the images appear to be just continuous tone ink under even a 10x loupe, there is a good chance it could be collotype. When in production mode, these collotype shops could really crank out the volume once they began to print. It is much more conducive to making large numbers of prints than something like photogravure, which generally requires the plate to be inked by hand for each print. The collotype shops had mechanical inking systems on their presses that they could turn on and feed paper into once they had the process in control for a particular image.
Last edited by clay; 06-22-2008 at 04:46 PM. Click to view previous post history.