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Photomechanical Prints Collection

Identifier: PICT-2018-001

Scope and Content

This is an artificial collection created for photomechanical prints, primarily photogravures with one identified three-color halftone print, which have been separated from publications held by UNM Libraries. Such publications include the books ABC of Artistic Photography and Artistic Side of Photography, and periodicals Camera Notes and Camera Work.

The prints are grouped by photographer, listing the title and publication from which the photomechanical print comes.


  • 1897-1917
  • Majority of material found within 1910-1917

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Duplication of print and photographic material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for copyright compliance. For more information see the Photographs and Images Research Guide and contact the Pictorial Archivist.


While the first instances of illustrating publications with photographs involved pasting in by hand original photographs (calotypes in H. Fox Talbot's 1844-1846 Pencil of Nature), it was not until the late 19th century that an affordable and scalable commercial process was developed. The sharp, fine, detailed and tonal subtleties possible in photogravures met the need for reproducible mechanical prints. Creating these illustrations uses a photographic process (employing light sensitivity) to transfer an image onto a printing plate, with a separate process to produce the ink relief prints (not itself light sensitive.) Specifically, the photogravure process was an intaglio printing process similar to engraving, where a metal printing plate was sensitized with bichromated gelatin, then exposed and washed. The plate was then etched in acid and cleaned before being inked and printed in an engraving press. (Ritzenhthaler, 2006.) Unlike modern photomechanical prints, these early photogravure prints show no dot or regular grid pattern with magnification.

Not only were photogravures tipped into books and periodicals, they were also collected individually as affordable fine prints. Elevating photography to the status of “Art” was a goal of the early 20th century Pictorialists, many of whom are represented in turn of the century publications such as Artistic Side of Photography, 1910 by A. J. Anderson, and two periodicals edited by Alfred Steiglitz: Camera Notes and Camera Work. Anderson writes, "With photogravure, one can make multiples (even thousands) of a perfect print which could be cheap enough for anyone to buy, and an artist could live by their work. Pictorial photography will offer a livelihood, and that photography has, at last, the chance to establish itself as an art.” Indeed, photographers such as Paul Strand commonly used photograguvre as their preferred printing medium.


85 items (1 box, 1 oversize folder) : 84 photogravures, 1 three-color halftone

Language of Materials



An artificial collection created for photomechanical prints, primarily photogravures, which have been removed from publications held by UNM Libraries.

Physical Location

B2. Shelved by Pictorial Number and in Large Drawers.

Related Material

Another notable publication illustrated with photogravures is: Edward Curtis, The North American Indian, 1907-1930.

Separated Material

Publications from which this material comes include:
  1. ABC of Artistic Photography: in Theory and Practice. (Anderson, A. J., London, S. Paul, 1913.)
  2. Artistic Side of Photography in Theory and Practice. (Anderson, A. J., London, S. Paul & Co, 1910.)
  3. Camera Notes: Official Organ of the Camera Club of New York (1897-1903). Edited by Alfred Stieglitz.
  4. Camera Work: A Photographic Quarterly. Edited and Published by Alfred Stieglitz, New York (45 issues; quarterly, New York, NY; 1903-1917), Alfred Steiglitz publisher.

Processing Information

The publication illustrations in this collection include items recovered by investigative agencies following a theft report in 2001. Upon completion of a 2003 conservation assessment, CSWR curators determined it was not feasible to rejoin photographic plates with respective publications.

In October 2018, 13 additional photogravures recoved with the original accession were added as folder 5.
Finding Aid of the Photomechanical Prints Collection, 1897-1917
Edited Full Draft
Cindy Abel Morris
© 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131