Amending maps by 'scribing'

Alex Elder describes a technique called scribing, used by Bartholomew's lithographic artists to amend maps on glass plates.



Alex Elder: 'The scribing tool was a gramophone needle basically in a little holder that we sharpened ourselves.'

Question: 'And did you scratch the glass?'

Alex: 'Well you didn’t scratch the glass. You had to be very careful. This is where it became a skill: if you scratched the glass that would actually leave an image when it was photographed.

'So you had to scrape this opaque coating off without scratching the glass, so you’d be very, very careful when you were doing it. But in that way you could create ruling lines.

'In the same way that you could letter, you know: on a positive plate you were actually lettering with a brush on this opaque, so you were actually drawing each letter individually. But on the negative plates you could also letter using the scribing tool.'


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