The Press: Up from the Stone Age

In 1796, an imaginative Munich playwright named Alois Senefelder discovered that he could print from stone. Searching for an inexpensive way to print his plays, he inscribed the smooth and porous surface with grease or crayon, dampened the stone with water, and then took his impression off on paper. The process, called lithography (literally, writing on stone), was capable of such beautiful reproductions that it was eagerly adopted by painters, among them Degas. Toulouse-Lautrec and Goya, to make cheap but faithful replicas of their original work. Except in artists' circles, Senefelder's stones have...

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