> Glossary   Home   History   Guides   Publishers   Artists   Topicals   Collecting   Blog   Calendar   Contact



Half Chromo
A half chromo is a 19th century term used to describe a color lithograph that is printed in less colors than what would normally be considered standard for a chromolithograph. This could be an original work or a variation of a fully printed chromolithograph. The incentive to print half chromos was that it saved on time and labor costs as well as some ink. While reducing the amount of colors printed decreased the realistic appearance of an image, it was generally acceptable as long as the final result was aesthetically pleasing. This method was increasingly put into use as modernist trends in art became more infused into public taste.

A halftone is the result of a process by which an image is reduced to a patterned series of small dots on a transparency or negative film. The varying dot size creates the illusion of full tonal range that was carried by the original image, while in actuality its components are completely in black or white. In 1885 Frederick Ives abandoned his elaborate Ives process when he developed a workable crossline screen, an optical device from which a halftone could be directly produced. The screen was made from two sheets of glass into which a fine series of lines had been etched then filled with an opaque material. The first sheet of glass was rotated ninety degrees to the second sheet and both were sealed face to face to form a crossline grid. The space between the intersecting lines on this combined grid creates a field of tiny square apertures that will break up the tones of the image projected through it. Halftone negatives were made by photographing an image through a crossline grid placed at a calculated distance from its surface. Apertures that received a lot of light cast a large dot, while apertures exposed to little light would cast a small dot. As the number of lines increase on a screen, the halftone dots become smaller and more numerous creating more dots per inch (dpi). More dots will increase sharpness, but at the expense of decreasing the tonal range a plate can print. When halftones are overlapped they must be place at angles greater than 30 degrees to avoid the formation of moiré patterns. When four halftones are used as in process printing, the overlapping dots form a distinct rosette pattern. Halftones began to be used in commercial printing in 1887 drastically reducing the costs of reproduction, which made printed illustrations much more common. Ives never patented this invention. George Meisenbach also developed a line screen in Germany in 1882, based on Ives’ early work. Louis Levy developed the Levy line screen in Philadelphia in 1887 and became a major manufacturer of screens.

Applying paint to a printed surface by hand is the most obvious way to obtain a multi-color picture and it was the first method used. Water based paints were not used only because of their ease and cost, oils had to be avoided because of the damage they could cause to the paper. While printing inks were oil based, they were stiff and little oil was absorbed into the paper before they dried. Coloring cards with a brush required a more fluid medium that the paper could absorb. Hand coloring was considered low skill work and it was often contracted out to women. Despite modern perceptions, a large percentage of factory workers have always been women, and they were often employed in the printing trades. Usually each colorist was responsible for a single hue, which would be applied in production line fashion, sometimes with the help of stencils as a guide. If quality was an issue there might be a more experienced colorist at the end if the line armed with a full palette to add the final touch ups. In smaller operations all color was applied by a single person start to finish but this tended to result in wider variations. The amount of handcoloring found on postcards varied over time as its use was was a direct relationship between printing costs and labor cost.

Hand Press
A hand press refers to any non-mechanized press that is operated by hand. The term is usually applied to screw presses where paper is pressed between the plate or form on the press bed and another heavy press plate that applies pressure from above. Many small hand presses of varying types were made for home use or to suit limited but specific business needs. Many small shops used a hand press to print text onto stock cards.

Hand Stamp
A hand stamp is a designed marking of ink imprinted by hand over the postage on a letter or postcard to indicate its official arrival into an official postal system, and to cancel its value to keep it from further use. Prior to 1907 the United States Post Office Department not only canceled postage with a hand stamp upon receipt of mail, but a second time with a receivers mark at the post office it was delivered to. Certain small Post Offices continued to put a receivers mark on mail for many years beyond its official cessation. The Post Office’s name, the date, and the time were required to be present on every hand stamp. To make this economically feasible the stamp mechanism was designed to hold interchangeable words and numbers but unfortunately many employees were sloppy in their work either loosing numbers or not bothering to put them in, especially when it came to the year. While postal clerks may have thought everyone knew what year it was at the time of mailing, the lack of a proper hand stamp is now a great loss to the modern collector trying to date a card.

Heat Set Inks
Heat set inks are a type of printing ink commonly used for printing on high-speed web offset presses that were developed in the 1930’s. These inks have the ability to dry rapidly after printing when heat is applied to them. Because they can be dried before they are absorbed into the printing paper, a sharper brighter image is created.

Heliochrom is a trade name patented by Emil Pinkau & Co that was placed on their postcards manufactured in a variation of the photochrom process.

A Heliochrome is a full color transparency made on photosensitized silver chloride glass plates invented by Nicéphore Niépce de St. Victor in 1853. These images however could not be stabilized and their quick fading prevented then from being commercially used. Many other photographic based printing processes borrowed portions of this term to imply they could create images in natural color.

Helio-Dore is a trade name for a type of color postcard distributed by the American News Company that was printed as a black colotype over a lighter brown tints on textured paper. These cards are characterized by flat tones, stylized clouds, and a dull finish. They were manufactured in Germany.

A Heliotype is a variant of the collotype process developed by the London photographer Ernest Edwards in 1869 (patented 1870). In this method a gelatin dichromate of potash is hardened with chrome alum on a waxed greyed glass plate. The alum reduced the swelling of the gelatin making it more leathery, thus durable. After exposure under a negative, the gelatin skin was stripped off and briefly exposed on the reverse side to harden it. The skin could then be attached to a metal plate or rotary cylinder with a rubber solution and developed in a water and glycerin bath. This process usually required the rolling on of two inks on one plate. A stiff ink that only adhered to the most light exposed areas was used to create the dark shadows, while a thinner ink was used for medium or light tones. The blacks created by this process are much darker than on an ordinary collotype. They can leave an inky crust on the surface of the paper that can easily be confused with photogravure. Over the years the terms collotype and heliotype began to be used interchangeably despite their differences. Heliotype plates could be put into limited storage after printing and used again on demand.

Heliograph (Heliogravure or Eliografia)
Heliogravure is a process invented by Nicephore Niepce in which a metal plate is coated with photosensitive bitumen and exposed to light, either through a positive transparency, or directly by placing the plate in a camera. Light makes the bitumen insoluble so the image areas can be washed out with solvent that exposes the plate. The plate can now be etched and printed in the intaglio method resulting in a gravure like continuous toned print called a heliograph. This European form of photogravure was mostly used for commercial printing between 1870 and 1914, though it is occasionally still used today. Heliographs were largely replaced by modern rotogravure, where its mechanical inking sped up this slow printing method.

Heliography is an early term that was once used interchangeably with photography. It was also once used to alternatively describe the photogravure process but this reference has long been obsolete.

A hickey is a blemish on a printed surface that most often appears as a dark dot with a white halo. They are caused when small unwanted particles of dirt, dried ink, or paper fiber fall onto the inking roller or slab. They are most commonly found on images produced by high speed presses such as those used in offset printing.

Holiday Cards
Holiday cards were often issued as a postcards containing the iconic imagery and symbolism of a collective commemorated holiday. Traditionally there were few celebrated days in the United States other than George Washington’s birthday and Independence Day. Holidays (Holy days) were often associated with the many religious festivities so common to Europe that they were seen as having no place in secular America. Even the Popish celebration of Christmas was for a time banned in Puritan New England. It wasn’t until the later half of the 19th century that holidays began to creep into American life, first as a trickle then as a flood. As postcards became popular they picked up on these holiday themes. Cards were commonly printed for New Years Day, Ground Hog Day, Valentines Day, Washington’s Birthday, Lincoln’s Birthday, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, April Fool’s Day, Remembrance Day, Decoration Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

Hold-to-Light Card
A hold-to-light postcard is one that alters its appearance when held up to a bright source of light. The most desired effect was to transform a daylight scene into a night view. These cards come in three different types. There is the translucent type published under the Meteor trademark where a opaque die cut tissue is placed between the printed image on the front of the card and a second plain paper back glued to the back of the front around its edges. When held up to light it shines through the cutout shapes in the tissue to form the moon, illuminated windows, lights, reflections, etc. A second method places translucent colored paper, usually red and yellow, between the two layers but in this case the printed front has shapes corresponding to the illuminated imagery die cut into it. This creates the same type of lighting effects as the first method except the illumination is brighter and in color. On other hold-to-light cards an image printed on thin paper is pasted over a second image printed on card stock, and when backlit the two layered images combine to form a new one often altering its original narrative. Unless held up to light many of these hold-to-light card cards are not discernible from ordinary postcards. These novelties became popular in the 1890’s.

Hudson-Fulton Celebration
The Hudson-Fulton Celebration commemorated the 300th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s discovery of the river that now bares his name, and the 100th anniversary of the establishment of steamboat service on the Hudson River by Robert Fulton. These anniversaries were celebrated throughout the entire Hudson Valley of New York State between September 25th and October 11th, 1909, with parades, naval reviews, airplane flights, electric light displays, and fireworks. Replicas of Hudson’s ship the Half Moon, and Fulton’s first steamship the Claremont were built for this occasion. Many official and privately printed artist drawn postcards were made to commemorate this anniversary, and many more were published that captured scenes of the actual celebration.

Hurricane of 1938
The worst recorded natural disaster to hit the Northeast United States was a hurricane whose brunt largely befell the states of New York, Connecticut, and Rhode Island on September 21st, 1938. With winds peaking at about 150 mph, accompanied by record flooding, lighthouses and entire communities were removed from the map. This unpredicted Hurricane left over 600 dead and thousands injured. Many postcards document the damage it caused following its path from the initial landfall and up into Canada.

Back  UP  Next