Amazing color billhead

Before you look at the date on this amazing piece (the date is in the upper right), take a guess as to when it was printed. The “rainbow” background is printed as you would print one color. There is no halftone screen in the rainbow. It appears that they used a split ink fountain on a press without an ink disk (or with the turning function of the ink disc disabled), and just allowed the ink colors to blend in with each other. (A split ink fountain has dividers along the fountain roller so different colors can be put into the fountain at the same time, or so ink can be kept off of parts of the fountain roller). Although I have never tried this, I don’t think it would be too easy to do because the colors would tend to blend into each other over a long production run. (This run must have been in the hundreds, I would think). In addition, the rainbow is diagonal, so they must have fed the sheets at a 45 degree angle. The type is in black. I know both the rainbow and the type are printed by letterpress because when I look at it with a magnifier, I can see a tiny bead of ink along the edges of the images, where the ink has slightly squeezed off the image areas of the plate, and the type. This can only happen with a relief plate in letterpress or flexo, and it isn’t flexo. (I have taught people how to determine what printing process was used for a particular piece for many years).

The bottom part of the piece appears to be a ruled form, which was done in 3 colors: blue, pink and a very light gray.

As you have probably noticed by now, it is dated April 19, 1883!

Next month, this piece will be 127 years old. I hope it will inspire you to do even more wonderful things with this great printing process of ours!

image: Colour billhead 1883.jpg

Colour billhead 1883.jpg

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