> Glossary   Home   History   Guides   Publishers   Artists   Techniques   Topicals   Warfare   Blog   Contact



The Language of Flowers
The language of flowers refers to a set of symbolic meanings that were applied to flowers during the Victorian age to be used as a secret code called floriography. It allowed for the expression of thoughts or feelings that were socially unacceptable to be verbally spoken or written. This language was conveyed through floral arrangements, the wearing of flowers or only their scent. As with any new language a vocabulary must be learned and numerous guides to floriography were published. Postcards were used both to define meanings and employed the language itself within its imagery.

Lantern Slide
See Magic Lantern

Les Nouveaux Distributeurs
Les Nouveaux Distributeurs was the name for an early type of postcard vending machine manufactured in France. A customer could view up to 500 different cards one at a time through a glass window. When money was put in and a crank turned the selected postcard would be dispensed. These machines were imported into the United States but they never became very popular, most likely due to their high cost.

Large Letter Card
A large letter cards is a postcard in which a drawn place name in large letters becomes its subject. The name is usually that of a State but many cities and popular tourist spots also had their own cards. They were always accompanied by graphic work that could be simple to complex in design. Large letter cards were most popular when produced as linens between 1938 and 1942, but they are based on earlier multi-image view-cards with complicated borders that date back to at least 1902. Their designs grew more complex through the 1940’s but they were slowly going out of fashion at the same time and they largely died out with the linen postcard. Variations of this style still continue to be made.

lavis lithograpique
This process of painting washes onto a litho-stone with any form of lithographic ink was coined around 1842 as lavis lithograpique by the French printer Rose-Joseph Lemercier. This term has since faded from use.

laser Gravure
In laser gravure a laser beam cuts cells of varying depth and width directly into a printing cylinder at 1/10 the speed of electromechanical engraving. The increased depth also increased print quality as the ink tends to stay inside the inkwells. The original image is scanned and digitized just like in electromechanical engraving, and this information then guides the laser beam in a precise manner. The reflective surface of copper however is problematic, so these cylinders are usually first coated in plastic. Once the image has been transferred it is then electroplated with chrome. This added protection increases surface strength allowing for consistent press runs of over a million. Once a run is complete the image on cylinder can be stripped off and a fresh coating applied.

Laser Printing
TThe photomultiplier tube used to scan images was eventually replaced with digital image sensors, and from this a new type of electrostatic printer was able to be developed that utilized a laser to transmit data. The first such device was produced in 1969, and it reached the marketplace by 1975. As the sensor scans the image to be printed in a horizontal linear fashion the data retrieved in a digital format is then transmitted to laser in order to direct its beams in a similar linear fashion across a drum that has been charged with electro static through a second charging roller. This precise narrow beam of light is first projected onto a mirror, which reflects it through a series of lenses that corrects any image distortion before striking the drum in small bursts. While some laser printers use the same white write system to attract pigment to the drum as in photocopiers, other printers use a black write system. With black write the laser discharges the static on the drum’s surface where every dot needs to print for the ink dusted onto it in this process is charged and will be repelled by the remaining electrostatic on the drum while being attracted to the discharged neutral areas. Black write is often preferred for it seems to produce a higher quality image. After an entire line has been drawn the drum moves up just enough so the next continuous line can be positioned and drawn in, and this proceeds until the entire image has been transmitted. This electrostatic image is then immediately transferred onto a sheet of paper at the bottom of the drum just as with a photocopier and the pigment is then bonded to its surface by running it between two heated Teflon coated rollers. The drum’s charge is then quickly recovered for the next job. While laser printers are not generally used in the commercial printing of postcards they are sometimes employed for low volume work. They have also inspired a new type of art card under the guise of scanography.

Letterpress is a relief printing process where the image surface, usually of type is raised above the non-image surface. It is a direct printing method in which the inked form presses the image directly into the paper creating a slight embossing. Letterpress is one of the oldest printing methods and was the most widely used to print text until it was replaced by offset lithography in the 1960’s.

A Levygraph is a print created by the photo engraving process patented by Max Levy in Baltimore in 1875.

Library Card
A Library card is a term sometimes used for the one cent John Adams postal card (Scott UX15). Libraries became large customers of government issued postal ever since their inception in 1873. Postals proved to be a cheap method to carry out the many different forms of correspondence that these institutions required. Unfortunately standard size postal cards did not fit into standard sized library index files. Libraries often purchased large uncut sheets of postals and then trimmed them down to suit their own needs. Melvil Dewey relentlessly lobbied the United States Post Office Department until they officially issued this smaller sized card in 1898.

A Lichtdruck (light struck) is the perfected version of the collotype process as modified by by Max Gemoser in 1868. It was still manufactured on a traditional glass plate but it was mounted on a litho-stone (Lichtdruckanstalt) that gave it greater support for a larger press run. The process remained in use in Austria and Germany until about 1900.

Lifesaving Service
In 1871 the informal volunteer lifesaving system was reformed into the U.S. Life Saving Service. The number of lifesaving stations was slowly extended from covering only the New England coast to the entire Country. Lifesaving stations were built with lookout towers and had six man crews assigned to them. They were equipped with surf boats and Lyle guns that could shoot a cable 600 yards to a ship in distress and carry passengers off with a life car or breeches buoy. There were also lifeboat stations positioned in cities, especially around the Great Lakes. In the southern states with warmer weather houses of refuge with a single keeper were set up to provide shelter for the shipwrecked. In 1915 the Life Saving Service and the Revenue Cutter Service were combined to form the U.S. Coast Guard. Many postcards were made depicting lifesaving stations and the surfmen who manned them in practice or in action.

Lightburn is an area of an image that has been noticeably bleached lighter by sunlight than its surrounding areas. It is sometimes found on paper items that have been unintentionally masked by mats or the mounting tabs they have been placed under thus being exposed to sunlight at different levels of intensity. Lightburn is not to be confused with acid migration, which can also yellow or darken a paper’s surface.

Lightfastness is the measure of a color’s resistance to fade when exposed to light, especially sunlight. The ultra-violet end of the electromagnetic spectrum provides high energy that reacts with the compounds that make up colorants causing them to decompose. This may cause them to change color, usually darken, or to fade or bleach out completely. Since dyes are made up of smaller chemical molecules than pigments, it takes less time for them to break down, making them more prone to fading. A color that fades rapidly is called fugitive.

Lignin is a complex polymer found in plant cells that makes up about 25 to 30 percent of the volume of wood. Its molecular structure is very unusual and complex making it difficult to separate from cellulose in wood pulp. While chemical processing and bleaching of pulp can remove most of the lignin, mechanical pulp retains high quantities of it. As the sulfur in lignin begins to acidify over time it will destroy any paper it is carried in by turning it yellow and brittle. Certain insects also like to feed on lignin.

Limited Edition
A limited edition is a series of identical artworks or collectable items that are produced from a single master, and display an edition number. The edition number consists of two parts; the number that represents the maximum quantity of pieces to be made which is what limits the edition, proceeded by a slash and a prefix designating the individual number of that particular piece. An edition number of 1/100 means it is the first piece of a maximum one hundred copies to be made. Works in limited editions usually hold the artists’ signature. The term is used to denote scarcity and in turn value, but so many have abused its definition to render it meaningless without further clarification.

Line Block
The line block technique refined by Firmin Gillot’s son Charles in the 1870’s and based on the earlier gillotype is a hybrid of intaglio and relief printing. A negative of a line drawing is contact printed onto a metal plate that has been photosensitized with an albumin dichromate solution. Light hardens this emulsion into an acid resist while non-exposed areas are removed when rinsed in warm water. When etched in a bath of acid the metal surrounding the emulsion protected lines is eaten away forming a low relief. The plate is then rolled with ink, which will only adhere to its surface but not in the incised lines as with traditional intaglio, and then it is printed in the same manner as a woodblock. As the line block method can only print a single tone all values are created optically and a wide variety of textures were often added to enhance it. Because these plates are inked in the same fashion as relief prints they were usually adhered to woodblocks to raise their height so they could be used in conjunction with letterpress. It was through their use in letterpress that they became known as line blocks or line cuts. Their adaptability to this commonly used medium propelled line blocks into the dominant method of illustrating books and newspapers printed in letterpress. Its use did not stop there as a great many trade cards and postcards would also use line blocks in their production.

Linen Card Stock
Linen Card stock is a heavy paper embossed with a waffle-like texture that resembles linen fabric from a distance. Paper is made by pouring a fibrous pulp onto screens and left to dry, and when pulled off it has a rough texture on the top and the pattern of the screen on the bottom. For most commercial use this paper is then calendered between heavy rollers to flatten it out. It is at this point that a roller carrying a design in relief such as a linen texture can emboss this pattern into paper. Linen textures began to be seen on some postcards as far back as the beginning of the 20th century. It was most likely done in an attempt to simulate the canvas texture of paintings in order to associate those postcards to fine art in the public’s eye. The exact nature of these patterns varied from publisher to publisher. The texture could be obvious or subtle, and either in a tight uniform pattern or irregular. Because the texture creates more surface area for the printed ink to react with the surrounding air it speeds up the drying time. For this reason a linen texture was chosen to be used with dye based inks in the 1930’s through the 1950’s, which needed to dry fast for an optimal look. Curt Teich of Chicago began to mass produce these cards in 1931 and they soon became known as Linens.

A Linen is a reference to a postcard that has a linen-like fabric texture embossed into its front surface. The Curt Teich Company of Chicago was the first to use this texture for large scale production starting in 1931. They were printed as tinted halftones in both lithography and line block. Their linen texture exposed more surface area to the surrounding air speeding up drying time, which in turn allowed more colorful dye based inks to be used on high-speed presses. To increase their brilliance Linens were often spot printed with a fifth color, often light blue, which was added to the normal CYMK pallet. Different printers of linen cards usually had their own individual die to emboss their signature texture into the paper. There are publishers who produced postcards with a linen texture on them many years earlier as novelties, but only cards manufactured after 1931 when they dominated production are referred to as Linens. Though printed alongside photochromes for many years, the use of linens ended in by 1959 as chromes became more popular with the public.

Line Screen
A line screen is a apparatus that holds two sets of evenly spaced parallel lines etched into a transparent plate that can each be aligned at different angles to one another. The spaces formed between the lines (dots) act as small apertures when light is projected through them. When light passes through both the screen and a negative or transparency in contact with it, the image is transformed into a series of solid black dots of varying size known as a halftone. In this manner optical tones can be produced.

Linotype is a trade name for a typesetting process in which type to be placed in a letterset form could be cast in lines rather than individual letters. After use these metal lines of type could be melted down and reused. It cut down dramatically on labor costs in typesetting.

Lipman Card
A Lipman card was the first private postal legally authorized for use in the United States. The earliest known postmark on a Lipman card is of October 25, 1870 from Richmond, Indiana. This card carried a pictorial advertisement of an Esterbrook Steel Pen and the name Lipman’s Postal Card. The card was issued by Hymen L. Lipman, an associate of John P. Charlton of Philadelphia who copyrighted America’s first postcard in 1861. The original card consisted of a simple design; a few lines for an address, a stamp box, and the copyright date, all printed in three different color variations. None of these cards were ever used to anyone’s knowledge. While the exact relationship between Charlton and Lipman remain unknown both of these card types are usually referred to as Lipman cards. Only a few remain in existence.

Lith o Sketch
Lith o Sketch is a trade name used by the Curhan Company of Gloucester for their artist signed cards drawn with the aid of paper grains and printed in black & white lithography, though some have hand coloring. To the eye the have the appearance of a quick crayon sketch. Some of their reproductions of oil paintings also carry this name.

Litho-Chrome is a trade name for a type of German made postcard distributed by the American News Company that was printed as a blue collotyope over yellow and red lithographic spatter. Their individual colors are sharp and tend to stand out, especially the blue as it is used instead of black. It is sometimes so heavy that it renders scenes highly unnatural. They are drawn more toward more solid tones than to texture though an actual wormy texture is embossed into the paper.

A lithochrome is a generic term for any lithograph printed in color. It is often used interchangeably in common usage with chromolithograph.

Since the 19th century the term lithographer had multiple meanings. It could refer to the artist who drew an image onto a stone for reproduction, the technician who processed the drawing enabling prints to be made from it, or the printer who pulled lithographs from the stone. All three tasks could be performed by one person but as printing houses grew larger, labor was often divided among many individuals.

Lithography is a planographic printing method invented in Prague by Alois Senefelder in 1798. These prints are pulled from a chemically treated flat plane rather than a mechanically reliefed surface. The process begins with the surface of a litho-stone polished down to a fine even grain. An image can then either be drawn directly onto the stone, or transferred to it, by using a variety of materials ranging from crayons to washes as long as they contain grease or oils (lipids). The image is then etched into the stone with acid emulsified in gum Arabic. Unlike intaglio printing where the etch creates a surface in relief, only a chemical reaction takes place here in which a salt layer seeps into the stone’s pores around the image. When the image is washed off and the stone dampened, the water is only attracted to the salty layer created by the etch. When rolled with an oil-based ink, the ink coats the stone only where the water in the surface pores does not repel it. The stone now holds an image identical to the original and can be transferred to paper by running it under pressure. The wetting and inking process can be repeated over and over to produce multiple images. When the job is finished the stone can be re-polished and drawn on once again. The highest quality prints come from drawings made on polished limestone. Prints can also be pulled from textured sheets of zinc or aluminum. The wider availability of metal plates makes them cheaper to use, but they cannot match the quality of stone printed images. Lithography was the best way to reproduce gradated tones before the use of photo emulsions. This process was largely confined to artists until the mechanized lithography press was brought to the United States in 1868. This method and its various incarnations have dominated the printing of postcards from the chromolithographs of the 19th century to offset printing today.

Litho-Plate (Lithographic Plate)
A litho-plate is a thin flexible treated sheet of metal made of either zinc or aluminum that is used as a printing substrate in lithography. To be used their printing surface must be ground into a fine texture that will mimic that of a litho-stone. They are processed and printed in the same manner as a traditional lithograph but they also have the ability to be transferred onto a rotary press cylinder because they are flexible. The ability to print from metal plates is as old as lithography itself and was first used in the United States in 1849, but because metal can never capture the fine tones available from a stone, they were rarely used until the rotary press created an economic incentive. By 1880 most printing houses were using metal plates but many printers continued to use stones because it connected them to their German heritage. It was only when litho-stones became hard to procure during WWI, that the American industry switched to using metal plates. Sometimes only the image portion of a plate would be electroplated with copper or brass (bimetal plate) to give it a longer life on a press. Litho plates that are used for offset printing are made from a lighter weight steel and are often electronically hardened (anodized) so they can print runs of a half-million.

Litho-Stone (Lithographic Stone)
A litho-stone is a particular type of limestone used as a substrate in lithography. All of the best stones come from the quarries near the town of Solnhofen in the Jura Mountains of Bavaria, the hometown of the inventor of lithography, Alois Senefelder. This particular limestone from the Jurassic period was considered superior because its fine granularity was capable of capturing subtle gradations, while its purity allowed production of flawless stable images with consistent reactions in processing. Even so not all stones were of equal quality; they come in different colors from tan to grey indicating their hardness, which will determine how fine a drawing can be made on them. Impurities in soft stones will not accept the image drawn upon them and will show up as white marks on the finished print. Sometimes even the ghostly remains of marine fossils can be found on a printed image when magnified. The term litho is short for lithography while name lithography is derived from the Greek work lithos, meaning stone.

Large numbers of these litho-stones were quarried and shipped to American printing houses during the 19th century. Demand was great enough by the 1860Ős to support a number of stone dealers who acted as middlemen between the printers and the quarries. Many attempts were made to find suitable local stone. Many good stones were taken from the area around the Dirks river in Kentucky, and a deposit of high quality limestone was discovered in Iowa in 1914 and the town of Lithograph City (now Devonia) grew up around it. Litho-stones are very heavy, especially when compared to other printing materials, because they needed to be of substantial thickness so not to crack under the pressure of the press. Despite this stones as large as 36 by 52 inches were used. As they grow thinner and brittle through successive grindings, they can be mounted on slate to retain thickness and strength. Their difficulty in handling and storage, combined with their inaccessibility during WWI caused the industry to largely switch over to metal plates despite the inferior images they produced.

Some in the United States concocted artificial stucco slabs made from lime, sand, and casein to replace litho-stones. The Wezel & Naumann Fine Art Company of Leipzig invented an artificial litho-stone around 1890. Through the use of hydrochloric and sulphuric acids coupled with grinding the unusable remnants of true litho-stones were reduced to a pulp to which asphaltum, resin, and oil were added. This mixture of fatty salts along with a solution of soda was then sprayed onto a zinc plate in a fine even coating. When it had hardened it was drawn upon and processed with a phosphoric acid, gum arabic etch.

Lithotint is a type of greasy fluid lithographic ink with an added emulsifying agent patented as Lithotint by Charles Joseph Hullmandel in 1840. It worked the same way as the older ink producing solid blacks if used at full strength, but if diluted with a chemical solvent or water it was able to produce transparent washes that would look like a watercolor when used with a brush. It was also fluid enough to use with a pen for finer work. Unfortunately the tonal values produced are often unpredictable and etch differently if dissolved in water or solvent. The small clumps of undiluted fatty material in these washes often give them a mottled look when used thinly. The term Lithotint is nothing more than a product name, which has too often been confused with the actual process of drawing with washes. This greasy ink is now usually referred to as liquid tusche, from the German tuschen.

The process of gently burnishing the surface of a substrate used in relief printing to make it fall just under the printing plane where it might pick up small amounts of ink is known as lowering. Lowering can not provide consistent results so it was used sparingly on both woodcuts and wood engravings.

Lusterchrome is the trade name for photochrome postcards manufactured by the Tichnor Brothers.

Luxochrom is the trade name used by the Noyer Photo Studio in Paris for their art cards printed in halftone lithography.

Luxusdruck is a general German term sometimes found on postcards meaning luxury printing or more aptly deluxe. This could refer to postcards printed on better paper, hand colored, or those that used more colors above the normal standard for that publisher. Special labeling was required when the same image from one publisher was printed by two different methods and sold at different prices according to its quality.

Lychnogravure is a brand name used by the firm Aristophot (1902-1910) to describe their real photo postcards that were hand colored with an opaque paint.

Lynching The general meaning of lynching is an execution by a mob. The term is most often associated with the ritual murder of Blacks, especially by hanging, to maintain white supremacy through the use of terrorism. It is based on the tradition of Lynch Laws that allowed the administration of justice without resorting to the inefficiencies of the legal system. Between 1882 and 1968, newspapers alone reported on 4743 cases of lynching in the United States. A lynching was usually a festive community activity and real photo postcards documenting it were often made as souvenirs. In 1912 Congress ordered the Post Office Department to prohibited the mailing of postcards depicting lynching, while refusing to pass any legislation to make it a crime.

Back  UP  Next