Practical Engraving on Metal, by G. A. Banner, 1899
The 1899, 117 page book is intended for the amateur, the learner. As
with many books of this time it begins with a history, placing
engraving in a context, and the Old Testament, proving the ancient
origins of the technique and its uses. Egypt is addressed. Then
leaps into medieval times. Grave brasses are extensively discussed.
Picture engraving for books, printmaking (1423) as well. As niello
workers are credited with the development of printing plates there
are detail of how niello is made and used by goldsmiths. Printmaking
history is addressed in terms of different ways working printing
plates, mezzotint and more. Steel engraving and gun engraving is
The main chapters after the introduction include Gold and Silver
Engraving, Crests, Monograms and Cyphers, Gun engraving, Copper
Plate Engraving, Stencil Cutting and Dry Point Etching, Etching on
Copper, Various appliances used in Connection with Engraving. Lots
of detail on tools and using them throughout.
Graver handles, shapes and sharpening are fully described. A range
of sandbags is suggested, stuffed tight with chalk as that will not
scratch silver if it leaks out. Holding the metal, using the sand
bag are shown. Some graver names differ from today, such as a
Florentine finish graver being called a ‘threader’ or ‘sticher’, and
flat gravers being called ‘scollopers’.
He describes how to create bent gravers for cutting inside bowls and
other difficult places. Odd tidbits are given, such as if your graver
is not cutting then put it aside for a while, let it rest, and it
will return to its former cutting condition. (hmmm-I will have to
Layout methods are dealt with, including the use of gum gamboge, a
yellow Thai plant resin that when ground and mixed with alcohol
creates a durable ground on the metal that keeps a pencil line while
you are working, a method also used for chasing and repousse layout.
Laying out with some grease on the surface and a fine white powder
is described, as is rubbing ink into an engraving to print copies
onto other pieces of metal for multiples.
A number of edge treatments using different gravers and patterns is
addressed. Extensive surface options and ideas are covered. There
are many drawings and photos for this.
Lettering is addressed in great depth. Types include Roman, Italic,
Egyptian, or block, copper-plate, Old English, and Gothic. Spacing,
layout, tools, flourishes, repairing mistakes and stroke directions
are described. The use of chisels for carving brass is diagrammed,
and the engraved out letters and shapes were filled with niello, or
colored sealing waxes.
Heraldic work is really well done, with history, and information
about the meanings of every part, more in depth than I have seen
elsewhere. Really good. All the colors are represented by different
cross hatchings, and all is very thoroughly described. Great
drawings demonstrate his points. Japanese approaches to carving iron
in sword guards are touched on. Saw piercing for monograms is
detailed. The sawn shapes are then engraved, with sloping cuts and
more. Lots of very clear ‘how to’ here.
This must be one of the earliest books to talk about gun engraving,
and it too is thoroughly dealt with. A tip is to use a piece of
copper to rub off the burrs formed from engraving and carving as it
does not mark the steel.
Engraving plates for printing is addressed, tidbits like using a
mirror to check the work are revealed. Dry point etching is
described, as is copper intaglio etching in full detail, applying
the resist, scratching through it, etching. This too is very
thorough, and is a full description of how to do intaglio
The book ends with images and descriptions of clamping and holding
tools for engraving, as well as tricks and tips. Interestingly he
credits the engravers ball as an American invention. There is an
appendix that covers cleaning copper plates, annealing them,
hardening them after engraving, making printers ink, removing stains
from paper, unacceptable lead based glue to attach paper to metal, a
recipe to make chasing and repousse pitch, taking smoke prints of
engravings (still used today-but with cello-tape),
There are dozens of good illustrations and drawings.
Download the full eBook at the ridiculous price of $5.
Digital Antiques Books - The Jeweler’s History Project
As with all the Ganoksin project books the text has been scanned
using OCR (Optical Character Recognition) which means it is
searchable and useable in ways not seen in a standard pdf. Similarly
the images are separately scanned and then stitched into the text,
allowing you to zoom in for very high magnification views of the
detail in the images.
Over the last three decades we have acquired over 40 rare historical
Metalsmithing books that we will make available to jewelers,
goldsmiths and the metalsmithing community.
These books cover special techniques in depth like chasing,
repousse, engraving, niello making, Japanese chiseling, soldering,
construction, patination and metal coloring, silversmithing and
more. There are many recipes for alloys and metal surface
The manuscripts will be gradually published in a digital format over
the coming months. For the first time in history, these ancient metal
tricks and recipes will be made available to the contemporary
community of curious artists and metalsmiths. This will
allow the reader to apply the simple and ingenious procedures used by
the jewelers of the past, long dead masters of the art of
metalsmithing. Many of the tricks and recipes described will save the
maker money, as older approaches can sometimes replace modern tools.