A Manual for Printing Copper Plates Predating Abraham Bosse’s Treatise of 1645

Fig. 1a. Regeln, so im Kupferdrucken, so woln in abtruckung der Holzstöck fleisig in obacht zunemen (16 November 1628) in Paulus III Behaim von Schwarzbach, Orndliche verzeichnus vnnd Registratur, aller meiner 1. geschnittenen Kupfer, 2. Holzkunst 3., vnnd gegossenen Bleistück, so viel ich nacheinander deroselben zuhanden gebracht (Nürnberg) (1618–1628), p. 215. ©Bamberg State Library. Photo: Gerald Raab.

Fig. 1a. Regeln, so im Kupferdrucken, so woln in abtruckung der Holzstöck fleisig in obacht zunemen (16 November 1628) in Paulus III Behaim von Schwarzbach, Orndliche verzeichnus vnnd Registratur, aller meiner 1. geschnittenen Kupfer, 2. Holzkunst 3., vnnd gegossenen Bleistück, so viel ich nacheinander deroselben zuhanden gebracht (Nürnberg) (1618–1628), p. 215. ©Bamberg State Library. Photo: Gerald Raab.


Read the original German text of the manual here.

See an annotated listing of instructive, workshop practice texts up to 1628 here.


In the Stadtbibliothek Bamberg there is a 17th-century manuscript that catalogues the numerous copper printing plates, wooden printing blocks and lead casts collected by Paulus III Behaim von Schwarzbach (1592–1637) of Nuremberg.1 Appended at the end of the manuscript are instructions for the printing of copper plates, dated 16 Nov., 1628 (Fig. 1a). Although earlier documents on intaglio printing are known [see Appendix], we believe this text—which predates Abraham Bosse’s chapter on intaglio printing by 17 years—is the earliest extant manual encompassing all elements of the process. This highly original text is published here for the first time in English; a German transcription of the text accompanies the article online.

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  1. “Regeln, so im Kupferdrucken, so woln in abtruckung der Holzstöck fleisig in obacht zunemen,” in: Paulus III Behaim von Schwarzbach, Orndliche verzeichnus vnnd Registratur, aller meiner 1. geschnittenen Kupfer, 2. Holzkunst 3., vnnd gegossenen Bleistück, so viel ich nacheinander deroselben zuhanden gebracht, (Nürnberg), 1618–1628, p. 229, 16.5 ́ 22 cm. Regeln: pp. 215–226. Collection: Staatsbibliothek Bamberg, JH.Msc.art.66. For a digitized reproduction of the manuscript: http://bvbm1.bib-bvb.de/ webclient/DeliveryManager?pid=2934971&cus tom_att_2=simple_viewer. []