Ruby Lane's Past Times Newsletter for August 2003

Past Times
The monthly newsletter from Ruby Lane Antiques, Collectibles,

Fine Art, and Artisans


Welcome to Past Times!


o Ruby Lane Is Having A Birthday!

o 5 Year Anniversary Finds from Ruby Lane!

o August HOT SHOP: Welcome to Remember When Vintage Postcards!

o The Chromolithograph's Place in History by Diane Hull of

Diane's Vintage Store

o Some Basic Tips for Collecting Fine Art by Dr. Bill Gordon

of Gordon's Fine Art

o Share Past Times with A Friend



Ruby Lane celebrates its 5th anniversary in business this month!

We are so pleased to have reached this important milestone. A

special thanks to our shops and customers. We couldn't have done

it without each and every one of you!



As we mentioned, this month, Ruby Lane celebrates its 5th year

in business. So to celebrate, hundreds of Ruby Lane shops have

listed an item here that they want you to know about - some at

reduced prices! So be sure to check it out at 5 Year

Anniversary Finds.




Pamela Franzmeier specializes in vintage and Victorian trade

postcards including Valentine, Thanksgiving, Artist Signed,

Christmas, Birthday, Santa Claus cards and more! Examples of

such treasures are a 1914 Francis Brundage Witch Hugs Black Cat

Halloween Postcard ($39), a 1911 Child w/Holly Wreath Christmas

Post Card Publ. by Int'l Art ($5), a 1913 Little Mother Doll

Repair Post Card ($5), and a 1909 New Year Postcard of

Beautiful Lady on Ice w/Skating Cherub ($9). Pamela labels the

condition of each piece using a grading scale of Excellent to

Fair (see her shop for detail definitions).

Pamela does not sell reproductions and guarantees the

authenticity of every item she sells. She is a proud member of

The Ephemera Society of America. All items are shipped in soft

protective sleeves for protection.

We invite you to visit Rebal's shop at Remember When Vintage

Postcards - Advertising Collectibles.




The history of chromolithography really begins in the 17th

Century, when the reputation of a painter depended largely upon

the sales of etchings and engravings in the secondary market.

This is the earliest ëmass production' of an image. Some artists

hired their own engravers, but the majority of engravers merely

hovered around painters, copying their work. If the

reproductions were popular in the secondary market, it elevated

the reputation of the artist. Both a symbiotic and tense

relationship existed between the engraver and artist; they

needed each other to be successful. Painters were often

disappointed in the results, in either the quality or selection

of artwork. Even though, etchers and engravers were highly

trained in their craft and enjoyed a social status that was

almost level with painters. So different from today where the

value lies in the artist's image and not the ability of the

printer to accurately reproduce.

Trickle Down Economics

The ruling Royalty in the 17th Century quickly realized the

propaganda value of reproducing monuments, buildings, landmarks

and cultural treasures to spread the word of their power and

achievement. The Royals paid for them and started the trickle

down effect. The upper classes through the working class all

strove to obtain etchings and engravings. Thus a new market was

created, the demand for reproductions of popular art for display

in the homes of the masses. As a result, the drive to improve

the reproduction technologies had begun.

Newton's Theory of Light and the First Color Prints

J. C. LeBlon, an Amsterdam painter of miniatures, is credited

with experimenting with printing in color in 1708. Influenced by

Newton's Theory of Light, taught during his youth, LeBlon's

invention demonstrated, "that all varieties of colour are

expressed by means of three only, viz. yellow, red and blew."

(SIC) LeBlon recruited investors and opened The Picture Office.

He employed a large workforce of engravers, colourers, printers

and framers to reproduce famous old paintings. The Picture

Office is the first known commercial business that marketed

color reproductions to the public. The business operated into

the 1740's, when it fell apart amid scandal and legal

proceedings, with LeBlon's stockholders accusing him of stealing

from the company.

The introduction of color to images prompted etchers and

engravers to add color, too, beginning around the 1720's. Color

was both hand applied and mechanically applied to etchings and

engravings. Since the mechanical application of color to an

engraving and tied up the plates for too long which increased

cost, most color was hand applied.

Adding color was not popular with the upper classes; they

considered it "unnecessary" and "under-suspicion". The

development of color reproduction technology was slow during the

18th Century, due primarily to lack of patronage from a

conservative upper class.

Early Lithographs Competed with Etchings and Engravings The

first recorded polygraph method was invented by Joseph Booth,

who displayed the original painting beside the colored

reproduction at the first exhibition of The Polygraphic Society

in 1784. Unfortunately, the details of his method are not


Later, in 1798, Austrian Alois Senefleder was introduced a

lithography method and shortly afterwards, art lithographs

entered the marketplace. The lithographer drew or painted with a

greasy substance onto a porous printing surface, usually stone,

which was then pressed to paper or canvas. Only a few could be

done at a time; the image was re-drawn over and over to produce

many prints.

It would be awhile, though, before lithographs became popular.

Lithographs did not have the "tactile feel" of an engraving

desired by the aristocracy, who were accustomed to the lines and

dashes of a line engraver or the meticulous dottings of the


The Chromolithograph

The term, Chromolithograph was first used by French lithographer

Englemann. He used it to describe a color lithography process

for which he was granted a 10-year patent in 1837. Englemann

based his chromolithograph process upon the 3-color theory

espoused by LeBlon 130 years before.

In 1848, mass production of lithographs became possible; the

word Fac-similes was coined in 1859 because the process was "so


Using English machinery from Senefelder's design, Jules Cheret

began producing color lithograph posters on his own press in

Paris in 1866. "Cheret drew designs straight onto the

lithographic stone, re-establishing lithography as a direct

creative medium."

Revolution of the Printing Industry

In the second half of the 19th Century, "high numbers of

brightly colored lithographs of Old and Modern Masters were

produced from as many as 25 stones." While engravers and

etchers trained for many years as draftsmen before attaining a

high status commensurate with their skill, the lithography

process was more dependent upon "an industrialized team of

workers who saw themselves as technicians". Thus began the

shift from the individual craftsman towards the factory


The Camera Competes with the Chromolithograph

Mass production of chromolithographs transformed the printing

industry, but a new invention would soon take over. The

development of the camera also occurred during the 1800's,

providing new competition. By the turn of the century, it was

clear that lithography could not compete with the near

perfection achieved with a camera.

The heyday of chromolithographs was primarily from the 1870's to

the 1930's, when the Depression put many printers out of

business. By the end of WWII the printing industry was clearly

moving in the direction of the photographical image.

A Preserved Art Form

The art of engraving, etching and lithography continues as a

preserved art form, taught in Art Academies and Print Making

Departments of Universities.

Its fascinating when you think about it: The idea of color

printing began when Newton's Theory of Light was taught to a

little boy 320 years ago, who later applied the idea of three

primary colors to pigments used in painting. Today, the only

difference between process then and now, "the division of a

picture's full range of color into proportions of the primary

colors" is done digitally and photo-chemically, where it was

previously judged by eye.

Chromolithographs are very collectible; the colors are rich,

vibrant and do not fade. The chromolithograph was an important

invention that bridged the gap between the black and white

engravings of the 16th Century and today's color photographic


We invite you to visit Diane at Diane's Vintage Store.

Lambert, Susan, The Image Multiplied, Abaris Books, New York,

1987, page 87


Barnicoat, John, A Concise history of Posters, Harry Abrams,

Inc, New York, page 7.

Lambert, page 98


Ibid, page 87




There is so much to know when collecting fine art. You can't

learn it all in a lifetime! But if you're new to collecting but

want to "give it a go," here are a few basic points for you to

think about, that will help get you started:

Fine art is a unique handmade creation by an artist. Fine art

may be an original painting or even an engraving or etching

where the artist was directly involved in the creation process.

The uniqueness and rarity of any collectible is an important

factor in establishing its value. This principle is also true

in the world of art. Informed art collectors are aware of this

and seek to acquire fine art that is unique and not mass


I cannot emphasize enough that fine art is never created when

different artists paint different parts of a painting in an

assembly line process. Sweat shop art may be hand made, but it

is not unique. Likewise, a print that is reproduced

photographically is not fine art. Many artists today are

selling photographically reproduced prints for very high prices,

but it is doubtful that these prints will hold their value in

the secondary auction market, much less that they will ever

increase in value. Many art buyers are unaware that these

prints have often been transferred to a canvas. You cannot

assume that something is a painting just because it is on a


Another factor involved in determining the value of a painting

is its desirability to collectors. Some artists are in high

demand with collectors, and their art sells for fantastic

prices. Other artists are not desired by collectors and their

art sells only for its decoration value. This is why the most

important factor in determining the value of a work of art is

identifying the artist. A small painting by Picasso may be

worth a hundred thousand times more money than a large painting

by your aunt. When buying collectible art it is important that

you purchase it from a gallery or art dealer that you trust and

who will guarantee that the art is by the artist they claim.

One way of determining the desirability of an artist is to

discover whether the artist is listed in any of the art

reference books. Artists mentioned in these art books are often

referred to as "listed artists." Probably less than one percent

of artists ever make it into one of these books. If an artist

is listed it means that there is probably enough desirability

for the artist that a secondary market (art auctions) exists for

his art, although not all listed artists are equal in

desirability. A low level listed artist may have paintings that

sell in the low hundreds, while a high end listed artist may

have paintings that sell in the millions.

We invite you to visit Dr. Gordon's Ruby Lane shop at Gordon's

Fine Art.