These original engravings, all by Old Masters, are mainly in the “Northern Renaissance” or “Netherlandish” style. They were popularized in the 16th century by bringing the painted works of great artists to the middle class, via the newer medium of engraving. Images were carved with a burin, in reverse, into a copper block which was then inked and impressed with paper. Artists “signed” their names on engravings using Latin abbreviations: Invent, or simply inv for the original or conceptual artist; Fecit or fec for the engraver; and Exudit or exu for the printer/publisher. In a series of engravings, only one or two of the prints would have all the signatures; and many single prints are not signed at all. But the most often seen signature was that of the printer/publisher, and it is this signature that establishes the date of publication, and thus also the “State” of the engraving.
References to Hollstein or New Hollstein (scholarly reference books) confirm the exact STATE or run of the engraving, as well as the probable engraver (if not otherwise evident). In general, the earlier the State, the better and more valuable the engraving, as the copper plates would wear down with each use. After each STATE, publishers would often “sharpen” the copper plates, which of course slightly alters the exact workmanship of the original engraver. Thus, the earlier the STATE, the more the impression accurately represents the artist’s intent.
Many engravings and engraving sets offered here are so rare that they appear on the open market perhaps only once per decade. Appreciation for them continues to rise, along with their value. Each engraving, or engraving set, has been authenticated and guaranteed to be exactly as stated.
Many of these engravings were exhibited recently (Feb – Apr 2018) at the Hallie Ford Museum, in concert with Willamette University, in Salem, OR under the title: Holy Beauty: Northern Renaissance Prints Discovered in an Early English Bible (the 1629 Hexham Abbey Bible). For details on the Exhibit, CLICK HERE.
Engravings are being added to the site each week. Individual engravings or engraving sets are placed in either museum-quality Portfolios or in Archival Booklets – as noted.