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Old 08-22-2014, 05:16 PM
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Default Ghost Overprints and Stone Lithography

Say that five times fast.

The ghost overprints always fascinated me. So cool... so detailed. Obviously "printed"/"pressed" and not like other transfer remnants from wet ink, humidity, water, etc. Here's Chris' Chance from the "Show your favorite" thread



I always wondered how the mirror image could get printed onto the back of the card. I finally did some google searching on "stone lithography" and saw a watched a few videos. What I learned is that there is at least two types of transfer from the stone: direct and off-set (I believe this is the term).

In the direct transfer, the paper is placed directly onto the stone, as in this video.
In the offset transfer, the image is transfered from the stone to a rubber (or similar) roller, and that roller transfers the image to the paper, as in this video.

So, the only way for us to get these ghost overprints is if offset printing is used, and the paper was placed directly on the stone, right? Maybe this is all known stuff, but I could never noodle it out as I didn't know about this indirect (offset) transfer method.

Hopefully Steve B will chime in... and the title of the thread should guarantee it.
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Old 08-22-2014, 05:25 PM
whitehse whitehse is offline
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The ghost overprint looks damn cool and even looks more like an actual photo to me than it does the normal drawings these cards normally are made of.

So...question for those who know so much more about this than I do...which really isnt hard since I know nothing about the printing process. It appears the ghost overprint does not have the team name printed on it. Was the word "Cubs" added later in the printing process?

Last edited by whitehse; 08-22-2014 at 05:27 PM.
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Old 08-22-2014, 05:49 PM
abothebear abothebear is offline
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does that mean both techniques must have been used in some manner? otherwise how do you get a reverse image of the same stone?
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Old 08-22-2014, 06:13 PM
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I don't know that T206s are stone lithographs, but that's really just a mnor technicality because its merely a matter of what the printing plate was made out of (limestone versus metal). Doesn't change the printing process or theories. As noted transfer lithography, which involves an intermediary step, allowed an image to be backward or foreword. I suspect they originally introduced it so the original art could be made normal instead of backwards. The artists didn't have to draw in reverse left to right.

The exact cause of specific ghosts are a mystery to me, and different ghosts may be the result of different situations. But, between wet transfers and transfer printing, it's definitely possible to get the reversed images.

Have to admit the first time I saw a ghost my first reaction was it was fake because the image was reversed, but I have no reason to disbelieve it now.

Last edited by drcy; 08-22-2014 at 06:25 PM.
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Old 08-22-2014, 09:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abothebear View Post
does that mean both techniques must have been used in some manner? otherwise how do you get a reverse image of the same stone?
I don't think so... if the off-set method is used, then the stone is image looks just like the actual card (not reversed). It's transferred to a rubber roller, which at that point IS reversed, and then transferred again to the paper reversing it a second time to essentially "un-reverse" it.

I think the ghost overprint has to be an instance where the paper was pressed on the original stone, thereby reversing the image.
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Old 08-22-2014, 10:08 PM
steve B steve B is offline
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In either type of offset press (Stone or plate) the paper shouldn't come in contact with the plate. Those very clear offsets are usually from a misfeed causing the offset blanket to print to the impression roller which is a nice smooth steel. If it's a minor misfeed and the press isn't stopped then the next sheet gets an impression from both the blanket and the impression cylinder.

The paper does sometimes contact the plate. But it's a bigger problem, and the result looks awful. And nearly always ends up in the round file. Basically the paper or what's left of that sheet gets inked, and prints a nearly solid layer of that color to the next sheet. If there is one. The sort of jam usually involves the paper tearing or peeling so some winds around the blanket.

I still haven't quite figured out if they were done with stones or plates. I'm almost positive the backs were done with stones. But I'm less certain of the fronts.

Steve B
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Old 08-22-2014, 10:14 PM
steve B steve B is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drcy View Post
I don't know that T206s are stone lithographs, but that's really just a mnor technicality because its merely a matter of what the printing plate was made out of (limestone versus metal). Doesn't change the printing process or theories. As noted transfer lithography, which involves an intermediary step, allowed an image to be backward or foreword. I suspect they originally introduced it so the original art could be made normal instead of backwards. The artists didn't have to draw in reverse left to right.

The exact cause of specific ghosts are a mystery to me, and different ghosts may be the result of different situations. But, between wet transfers and transfer printing, it's definitely possible to get the reversed images.

Have to admit the first time I saw a ghost my first reaction was it was fake because the image was reversed, but I have no reason to disbelieve it now.
The other reason for transfer lithography is that the paper is usually very slightly abrasive. Printing to the intermediate rubber roller reduces plate wear.
It's also usually a drier process than direct lithography.

Direct lithography is still used for art prints. Plate wear isn't usually a big deal if you're only doing a few hundred impressions (Or less) And a good manual printer can control the inking better especially if there's an area that's troublesome. Like the thin space between the frame lines of the Piedmont backs which are sometimes filled in because of the plate drying out a bit too much

Steve B
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Old 08-22-2014, 10:53 PM
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I don't know much about lithography either but that seems to be a big process to use both stone and metal for one sheet of cards .
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Old 08-23-2014, 07:19 PM
steve B steve B is offline
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It's not usually both in production. More modern stuff except art is always metal plates.

But metal plates were fairly new in 1909-10, And a lot was still done using stones as the plates. Figuring out which was used is very hard.

At the time a lot of the plates were laid out using transfers which were probably printed from stones. A lot of the stones that are still around have multiple items on them, like billheads from 3-4 different companies, or parts of labels from unrelated brands.

Steve B
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Old 08-24-2014, 10:42 AM
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Default little sumptin

from my collection. Circa 1910's stone featuring tintags and believe it or not - images of Colgan's Chips containers. When they no longer used them - they sometimes would end up in fills and driveways! These later stones @ around 10" x 12" were easier to minipulate than the earlier ones - stones that were much "chunkier" and heavier. Utilizing multiple color passes would require multiple pressings - no easy task especially in lining up the correct scheme.
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Last edited by 1880nonsports; 08-24-2014 at 10:43 AM. Reason: forgot pic :-)
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