Ice Cutting (Ice Harvesting)
Ice cutting is a defunct industry in which blocks of ice were cut from fresh water sources in winter, and then transported to warmer climates or stored to be sold as a refrigerant year round. Various methods were used to cut ice but it usually started by scoring out a grid with an ice plow and then it would be hand sawed into large blocks. These blocks of ice would be transported by horse drawn sleds to be packed in sawdust and stored in huge towering ice sheds, which were some of the largest buildings of their day. Ice would be delivered on a one or two day schedule to customers owning iceboxes and then cut to needed size. By the 1890’s artificial ice began being manufactured and the growing use of the refrigerator brought the industry to an end by the close of the First World War. Like many occupations, ice cutting and delivery wagons were captured on postcards, especially real photos.
IG Farben (Interessen-Gemeinschaft Farbenindustrie AG)
IG Farben is the world’s largest chemical cartel consisting of a conglomerate of German chemical, pharmaceutical, and dye manufactures. Its major members are the companies known today as BASF AG, Bayer AG, Hoechst AG, Agfa-Gevaert Group, and Cassella AG. They formed a loose association in 1916 and formally merged in 1925. Initially most of these companies produced colorants, but as the dangers of a possible military embargo became apparent, they branched out to eventually hold a near monopoly on the world’s chemical production. Shortages of ink outside of Germany during WWI nearly crippled the world’s printing industries. IG Farban did not believe democracies were compatible with big business and became an important financial backer of Adolph Hitler. While they legitimately produced many essential materials for a modern world, they also made use of the 83,000 slave laborers at Auschwitz to manufacture synthetic oil and rubber. The cartel is also known for the patent it held on Zyklon-B, the poison used in the death camps. Many American companies developed close ties to the cartel, which led the U.S. Government to seize the property of some companies in 1941. Investigations into the dealings of DuPont and the Standard Oil Company were dropped to insure their cooperation in the war effort. At the end of WWII, thirteen of IG Farben’s directors were indicted for war crimes at the Nuremberg Trials and sentenced to prison. By 1951 the cartel was broken up into its original founding companies though many parts quickly reunited. IG Farben went on to help create America’s chemical warfare industry.
Thin yet strong opaque paper that began being exported from India and China in the late 18th century became known in Europe as India paper. It was first used to cut down on the weight of large books but it quickly came to be employed in the production of prints. Its thinness easily allowed it to be pushed into the incised lines of intaglio plates where it picked up greater detail. Its off white color made it useful in lithography as a quick way to create a tinted background with having to print an extra hue. Both techniques employed India paper in the chine collé process. This type of paper began to be manufactured from bleached hemp and rags in Europe after 1875, but it continued to be sold under the same name.
Ink Cell (Ink Well)
An ink cell is an incised pit on the surface of the metal printing plates used in rotogravure. Before photogravure could be adapted for use on faster rotary presses, the slow method of inking the plate by hand had to be replaced. When a special line screen was developed that created rectilinear ink cells patterns to be photo etched deep into the printing cylinder, it allowed a more fluid ink to be dispensed from a fountain and the excess removed with a mechanical blade. The ink in each cell is held in place by high ridges that print white but are so thin as to be invisible to the naked eye.
An Ink-Photo is a trade name for type of lithograph developed by Sprague & Company around 1885, though it can be applied to all similar prints. They are made by moving an image from a collotype to a litho-stone or metal plate through the use of transfer paper. A thick gelatin emulsion was usually employed to produce a much coarser reticulated surface that would adhere better to the fine grain of a stone. A random series of markings was still achieved, but the larger scale cause the delicacy of tone associated with collotypes to be lost. This process is also used to create transparencies for random mezzograph screens used in photomechanical printing. Since images are adhered to transfer paper and transparent screens in the same manner, it is almost impossible to determine by which method a card is made, but it is likely that most of these types of postcards were made through a screen.
Ink squash occurs along the borders surrounding inked areas on relief prints, which are often darker than their centers because the pressure from the printing press forces ink outwards till it spills over the cut edge.
Installment cards are a series of postcards issued as a set that create a single image when all the cards put together in a particular order. Very often all the cards were needed to assemble a complete message. Each card was meant to be sent individually to one person over a short period of time.
Intaglio, from the Italian, to engrave is a process by which a metal plate, traditionally copper, is incised with the aid of hand tools or with acid, and the depressions filled with a stiff ink into which paper is pressed by means of a high pressure roller. This method produces a high density of printed ink that lays in relief on top the paper’s surface, creating a dark rich picture. Images in intaglio are created either with narrow lines or small marks for if the incised areas are too broad the plate will be unable to hold all the ink. The edges of the metal substrate (plate) are beveled so not to cut the paper while under the extreme pressure of the press. This leaves behind an embossed ridge around all four edges of the print known as a plate mark. When intaglio began to be used to reproduce works of art a wider range of incising methods were developed to better create tonal effects. Well known intaglio techniques include engraving, etching, drypoint, aquatint, and mezzotint. Of these only engraving produces lines deep enough to stand up to the stress of commercial printing, though etching was sometimes used for printing specialized items. Gravure is not a traditional intaglio method but one designed for commercial work.
Inserts can consist of either illustrations or type that is printed separately from the signatures of a book and pasted in during binding. This was usually done when a superior printing technique was required for a particular illustration above that allocated for general text. This method was also used to mount images on postcards when they were printed on paper too thin to mail or when combining very different materials. Photographs were the most common insert on printed cards.
International Postage Association
As an international audience gathered for the Great Exhibition in London in 1851, members of the Society of Arts founded the International Postage Association. The goal of this organization was to establish uniform postal regulations and postage rates for International mail. In October of 1852 their secretary, Manuel de Ysasi began an international journey in order to secure cooperation on this endeavor. While they made much progress in organizing the principals that would be needed to make this happen, the project slowly disintegrated in the autumn of 1854 after Ysasi died in a shipwreck. Most of their proposals would be adopted by the General Postal Union in 1875.
A number of 19th century novelties and turn of the century postcards employed invisible ink in their production. It was often used on comic cards where the hidden visual acted as the punch line once revealed. There are a variety of invisible ink types but those that were used on postcards were designed to be developed by heat so they could be easily processed without damaging the card. Most have printed instructions to heat the card with a hot flat iron with additional warnings to not set it on fire. It is not possible without chemical analysis to determine the exact type of heat fixed ink used but the most likely candidates are water based solutions containing citrus, apple, onion juice, or vinegar. Once they dry on paper they cannot seen but when heated any one of these dried solutions will quickly oxidize and turn brown.
Iron Gall Ink
Iron Gall Ink is a deep blue-black ink primarily made from tannin, vitriol, gum, and water. Its indelible quality coupled with inexpensive ingredients made it popular with artists and for general writing from the late Middle Ages into the 20th century. Iron gall ink has good color strength and light-fastness, but it also tends to contain free acids that can be very corrosive to pen nibs and damaging to any paper that holds it. Its corrosive effects can be found on many postcards.
Ives Process (Halftone)
The Ives Process was the first in which a photographic image could be reduced to a series of black & white dots that gave the illusion of a full and accurate tonal range. This process begins when a photosensitive gelatin plate is exposed to a negative then washed out leaving behind an irregular surface of light hardened gelatin. A plaster cast is then made from the plate, which is then pressed against an inked rubber pad where the ink is only transferred to the highest points on the plaster’s surface. The contours of the cast capture the tonal shades as dots in proportion to the original tones of the photograph. The image pulled from the inked plaster cast is re-photographed, and then this new negative could be transferred to another photosensitive printing plate. This complicated process was patented in 1881 but abandoned by 1885 when Ives invented the much easier to use line screen. W.A. Leggo and G.E. Desbarats in Canada also developed a similar halftone process. The Canadian Illustrated News was the first newspaper to print a halftone image in 1869 using their method. In the years that followed, halftones created with the newer crossline screens were often incorrectly referred to as having been made by the Ives Process, but this was only due to the continued use of the recognized trade name.