Dating audubon prints dating 40 Læsø
HAND COLORING The history of hand color in Natural History prints began in the 17th Century and flourished in the 18th to mid 19th Century.
The main application of color to black & white prints was with delicate watercolor brushes.
Mark Catesby’s Natural History took 18 years to complete.
At a cost of 22 guineas for a complete set, it was one of the most expensive publications of the 18th century.
Hand coloring was extremely costly, often tripling or quadrupling the price of the work, so that many early botanicals were offered with or without hand-coloring.
It is rewarding to look at a hand-colored print with a 10x magnifier.
When held up to the light, this handmade paper exhibits lines called “chain lines”, where the larger wires of the paper mould bound its smaller mould wires together.
Wove paper was introduced at the end of the 18th century. This paper was 100% cotton rag as was laid paper and sometimes bears a watermark as in the Double Elephant Audubon work.
Modern copies of original antique prints are ubiquitous and becoming more difficult to discern, especially if the print is behind glass.
Often early antique prints were made using handmade paper bearing watermarks or counter-marks.