What Is Nature Printing ?

Posted by Fine Rare Prints 22/04/2015 0 Comment(s) Antique Print Tips,

What is Nature Printing ?


Nature printing is an ingenious method of printing pictures of natural things such as leaves, seaweed and even snake skin. It differed from most other printing methods as it used the object itself to make the print - most other printing methods involved an artist sketching the image onto a printing plate. Nature printed images are superbly detailed and life-like.



Nature printing was invented and patented in Austria in the early 1850s. The object, for example an attractive fern frond, was put between a sheets of lead and steel. These were pressed very hard together. This made a a very detailed and accurate impression of the object in the lead sheet.


The next step was to make a copper copy of the lead sheet using electrotyping. This was done as copper made a harder wearing printing plate that would last longer, and the original lead sheet could be saved for making more copper printing plates.


Electrotyping was invented in 1839. It was used to create a metal copy of a printing plate. Basically, the printing plate to be copied was covered in another metal using electrolysis until it created another printing plate, this time with the image raised above the rest of the plate. The process could be repeated on this plate to create a second plate with the image again indented in the metal. This second plate could then be used for printing pictures in the same manner as prints were made from engravings.


Nature prints are quite rare because it as the method was patented and technically advanced. Some of the most famous nature prints were of seaweed and ferns and were made by Henry Bradbury. The images below are of antique nature prints made by Henry Bradbury in 1859. You can click on them to see many more we have for sale.

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