Reference Entry


Pat Gilmour

in Oxford Art Online

Published online January 2003 | e-ISBN: 9781884446054 | DOI:

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[Fr. phototypie; Ger. Lichtdruck]

First viable commercial printing process capable of translating the continuous tones of photography into the permanency of printer’s ink. Patented in 1855 by the Frenchman Alphonse Louis Poitevin, the technique involved printing from a surface of photosensitized gelatin, hence its English name (from Gr. kolla: ‘glue’). During the 19th century collotype was called by a bewildering variety of names: some, such as ‘Photopane’, ‘Hoeschotype’ and ‘Autotype Mechanical Process’, deriving from the names of individuals or companies who adopted it and others, such as ‘photogelatine process’, referring to its technical features. ‘Ink photos’, made by transferring to lithographic stone an image developed as a coarse collotype grain on gelatin, were used in the 1880s before relief half-tones were possible.

Modern collotypes are made by pouring a solution of gelatin and potassium bichromate over a sheet of plate-glass. When dry, the plate is placed in contact with a continuous tone negative and exposed to light. Where the light shines through the negative and strikes the sensitized gelatin, the coating hardens in such a way that it later rejects moisture but accepts printing ...

Reference Entry.  1359 words. 

Subjects: Photography and Photographs ; Publishing

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