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The 19th century

When taking the timeline of the history of printing into account a general hype in printing with stencils became apparent in the mid-nineteenth century. From the discovery of chromolithography (colored lithography, 1837), the advent of various printing innovations unfolded.1

The discovery of mimeography in the late 19th century is interesting and groundbreaking for the technique of risography, since it also a stencil was used as an image transfer medium made of waxed mulberry paper.2 A bit later, an immersion-coated long-fiber paper was developed from this, consisting a coated side that featured a plasticized nitrocellulose (ie a lacquer layer bound to the long-fiber paper). This stencil was placed around the mimeograph’s ink-filled drum and then a sheet was conveyed between the rotating drum and the pressure roller to wet the paper with the stencil’s manually engraved holes. Print templates were, back then, produced by a stencil maker with a typewriter, the ribbon could be lifted up, the fonts hit the stencil directly on the template and damaged the coating so that it was color transparent. In addition, special pens were used on the template to scrape lettering or illustration by hand into the paper.

Errors could be corrected by brushing with a specially formulated correction fluid, the paper was dried before it could be used. Stencils were later also produced by a thermal process; even a little later, systems with infrared technology similar to those of early photocopiers or machines such as the thermo fax machine and are to be regarded as a continuation of these developments.3 In addition to the concept of mimeography, devices with names such as hectographs also became established4 (from old greek hekatón, “hundred” and old greek gráphein, “to score, to write”, literally „written a hundred times“, freely translated as „hundredfold“), also matrix printers, spirit duplicators or blue printers5.