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9 a.m.–12 p.m., 1 p.m.–5 p.m.


Other times by appointment.

Landmarks of Printing History

Photographs by Doug Manchee


Hermann Mennert, ed. Faust, Polygrafhisch-illustrirte Zeitschrift für Kunst, Wissenschaft, Industrie und Unterhaltung. Vol. 2, nos. 1-24. Vienna: M. Auer, 1855.


Faust was a bi-monthly publication of the Austrian National Printing Office in Vienna, ably managed by the polymathic printer Alois Auer. Among his other printing accomplishments, Auer claimed precedence of invention for Naturselbstdruck. or the Nature Printing process, a technique which could produce astonishingly lifelike results. A specimen of the object whose reproduction was desired-a leaf for example-was squeezed between a steel plate and a lead plate, producing a depression in the softer lead. Since this depression followed the contours of the original leaf exactly, an electroplated version of it could filled with a pigmented gelatin ink and then used to print an image onto a sheet of paper. The image was as perfect a duplicate of the natural object as any mechanical process could ever hope to achieve. Flat objects worked best, as may be deduced by examining one nature print in this book which shows a bat. The wings are perfectly reproduced, but the body is less well-defined for reasons that are somewhat unpleasant to contemplate! 


The Cary Collection also owns the rest of the run of Faust, which features examples of many other printing techniques, including lithography, wood-engraving, galvanography, glasdruck stilographie, and xylography. 


In 2003, I was awarded a Faculty Development (FEAD) grant to carry out a project on current digital printing technologies. Initially, I was going to use existing photographs from my own archive. Since I wanted the project outcomes to be displayed in a venue outside of RIT's School of Photography, I approached David Pankow, curator of the Cary Collection, about using the Cary exhibition cases. Understandably, David was not enthused about using imagery that had nothing to do with the collection or the history of printing. After further discussion we decided to collaborate on a series of photographs using objects from the Cary Collection that would not normally be seen by visitors. The objects were selected and I spent three days last summer making the twelve photographs upon which this exhibition is based. 


I would like to thank Joan Stone, Dean of the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, and the FEAD grant committee for providing the funding to complete this project. I would also like to thank my colleagues in both the photography and printing schools for advice and. suggestions relating to the work on display. A special thanks goes to Mike Riordan for proofreading the technical data for clarity and accuracy. Finally, I would like to thank David Pankow for allowing me access to the collection last summer and for helping to art direct the pictures. I hope the photographs you see here represent, in some small way, the astonishing beauty and variety of the objects David, and his predecessors, have assembled since the collection was established at RIT in 1969. 


Doug Manchee, March 2004