The Language of Flowers
The language of flowers refers to any set of symbolic meanings that can be applied to flowers. It was largely used as a secret code called floriography during the Victorian age, which allowed for the expression of thoughts or feelings that were too socially unacceptable to be verbally spoken or written. This language was traditionally conveyed through floral arrangements and 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 widely used to define the symbolic meanings of flowers and their imagery was also used to send coded messages. They are most commonly found on cards from France.
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 its 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 thematic 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 vignette view-cards with complicated borders that date back to the 1890’s. 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 popularity of linen postcards. Variations of this style still continue to be made.
The process of painting washes onto a litho-stone with any form of lithographic ink was coined as lavis lithograpique around 1842 by the French printer Rose-Joseph Lemercier. This term has since faded from use.
In laser gravure a laser beam cuts cells of varying depth and width directly into a printing cylinder at 1/10 of the old speed. 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.
The photomultiplier tube used to scan images in photocopying 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 a 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 only where every dot needs to print. The ink dusted onto the drum is charged and will be repelled by the remaining electrostatic on its surface 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 continues 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 drumís 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. Prints created by this process are characterized by the same solid tones found in traditional woodblock printing, but because the inked form presses the image directly into the paper it creates a slight embossing Letterpress was the primary method used to print text throughout the 19th century and halfway through the 20th 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.
Collectors sometimes use the term Library card when referring to the one cent John Adams postal card (Scott UX15). Libraries had become large customers of government issued postal cards ever since their inception in 1873 when they 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 so libraries often purchased large uncut sheets of postals and then trimmed them down to suit their needs. Melvil Dewey relentlessly lobbied the United States Post Office Department for a smaller sized card until this one was officially issued in 1898.
A Lichtdruck (light struck) is the perfected version of the collotype process as modified by Max Gemoser in 1868. It was still manufactured on a traditional glass plate but it was then mounted on a litho-stone (Lichtdruckanstalt) to give it greater support during larger press runs. This process remained in use in Austria and Germany until about 1900 when it was replaced by a more efficient method of printing collotype.
Even in times when most commerce and people were transported by ship, few knew how to swim. Countless lives were lost as ships floundered in storms. A number of informal volunteer lifesaving systems were eventually set up to help remedy this situation. In 1871 some of these were reformed into the U.S. Life Saving Service, which began to establish lifesaving stations on the New England coast. Most of these 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 to a ship in distress and carry passengers off with a life car or breeches buoy. The system was later expanded across the country but adapted to regional needs. Lifeboat stations were 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. Postcards also capture similar services from around the world.
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 causing a varied exposure to sunlight. Objects partially laid across paper exposed to sunlight for a long period of time may also cause this effect. Lightburn is not to be confused with acid migration, which can also yellow or darken the surface of paper.
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 tends to react with the compounds that make up colorants, causing them to decompose at a higher than normal rate. This can cause a change in color; they usually darken but they can also 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. Colors that light has little effect on are called lightfast. Colors that fade rapidly are 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 used for cheap paper products 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, making it an addition danger to paper. It is present in most ephemera like postcards that were never designed to last.
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 artistsí signature. While the term is used to denote scarcity and in turn value, so many have abused its definition to render it meaningless without further clarification.
Line Block (Linecut)
The line block photoengraving technique is a hybrid of intaglio and relief printing. It is based on the earlier paniconograph, first introduced by Firmin Gillot as the Gillotype (Gillotage), and refined by his son Charles during the 1870’s. Unlike the earlier version that involved a mechanical transfer, this technique was a pure photomechanical process. A negative of a line drawing is first 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. Because acid will undercut the resist, the plate needs to be repeatedly recoated with a special ink that will gently run down the cut sides of the line without stopping further biting until a good depth is formed. Unlike intaglio, this plate is then rolled with ink, which will only adhere to its surface, and then it is printed in the same manner as a woodblock. Since the line block method can only print a single solid tone, all values are created optically, often enhanced through the addition of a wide variety of textures. Since 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 these impressions became known as line blocks or line cuts. Most books and newspapers were printed in letterpress, so line block’s easy adaptation to this medium insured it would become the dominant method of printing illustrations. Its use did not stop there as a great number of 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 waffle-like texture could be obvious or subtle, and either in a tight uniform pattern or irregular. Since 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.
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 intersecting lines (dots) 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 this grid placed at a calculated distance from its surface. Apertures that receive a lot of light cast a large dot, while apertures exposed to small amounts of light will cast a small dot. In this manner printing plates can be produce that render optical tones.
Linotype is a trade name for a typesetting process used with letterpress in which the traditional method of setting type with individual letters is replaced with a linotype machine that can cast entire lines of text as information is fed into it. After use on the press, these metal lines of type can be melted down and reused. It cut down on the inventory of type a shop needed to carry, and also dramatically reduced labor costs in typesetting. Compositors who had traditionally set loose type into forms at no more than fifty lines per hour were thrown out of work by this innovation.
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 a three color selection. It was marketed as an easy way to stay in touch with family and an inexpensive means of advertising, all for half the cost of sending a letter. None of these cards were ever sent through the mail 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 s 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 of these were hand colored. To the eye these images have the appearance of a quick crayon sketch like those that are common to lithography, though some of the firm’s 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. Individual colors remain sharp and tend to stand out, especially the blue as it is used on the key plate instead of black. The blue is sometimes dominates the composition to the point of creating highly unnatural compositions. The technique tends to be used most effectively when rendering night scenes. 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, no matter how many colors are employed. In common usage it is often used interchangeably 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. First termed chemical printing, this process now known as lithography (derived from the Greek word lithos, meaning stone) begins with a particular type of limestone block polished down to a fine flat 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). Unlike the other indirect methods of preparing a plate, lithography was radically different in that it allowed the artist to draw on a stone just as drawing on a sheet of paper. Once drawn, the image is 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, but their printing surface must be carefully ground into a fine texture that will mimic that of a litho-stone. A solid adapter block is placed underneath to raise their height to that of a stone when used on a traditional lithography press. Plates are also processed and printed in the same manner as a traditional stone, but because metal can never capture the finest tones available from a stone and tend to suffer from oxidation; they were rarely put into use until the 20th century. Even when their adaptability to the new fast rotary press seemingly created an economic incentive, the delicate surface of litho-plates made them difficult if not impossible to utilize. The most notable exception was in the production of very large color posters where litho-stones of that size were difficult to come by and difficult to use because of their weight. By the late 1880’s larger presses were designed to accommodate the new size. Most American printers had placed a huge investment in working on stone, but when they became difficult to procure during the First World War, they were forced to switched to metal plates. When a way to harden a plateís surface was discovered, their continual use was insured, and by 1930 litho-plates had become the industry standard. Litho plates that are now 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.
Large numbers of these litho-stones were quarried and shipped to American printing houses during the 19th century. Demand was great enough by the 1860ís 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 by Charles Joseph Hullmandel in 1840. It could produce 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 if applied 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 they etch differently if dissolved in water rather than solvent. The small clumps of undiluted fatty material in these washes often give them a mottled look when applied in a thin layer. 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.
Lowering is the process of gently burnishing the surface of a substrate used in relief printing, which compresses its organic structure. This makes it fall just under the printing plane, preventing it from picking up a normal load of ink when rolled. While lowering can add some tonal variation to a print, the results are usually inconsistent so it is used sparingly on both woodcuts and wood engravings. Sometimes the effects of lowering are cause by damage to the substrate and not intention.
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 by law 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 to describe their real photo postcards that were hand colored with an opaque paint.
The general meaning of lynching is an execution by a mob. It is based on the tradition of Lynch Laws that allowed the administration of justice without resorting to the inefficiencies of the legal system. The term is most often associated with the ritual murder of Blacks, especially by hanging, to help maintain a system of white supremacy through the use of terrorism. 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 prohibit the mailing of postcards depicting lynching, though they refused to pass any legislation to make lynching a crime.