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Printing press detail from broadside advert
Printer James Lindsay's advert, 1850s
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Broadside illustration showing sculptures
Verses on the death of a family
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roadsides were mainly pages of text, but occasionally illustrations were added to grab attention. Generally illustrations were made with crude woodcuts, used again and again.

In many cases, the illustration bore little or no relation to the text. It seems probable that most of the cuts were designed and executed by one person.

The bigger picture

Although many 18th-century woodblocks were still in use, the more refined process of wood-engraving was being adopted by the early 19th century.

This advancement in the illustrative process - together with the mechanisation of printing - made images increasingly available to a wider public.

Printers of broadsides worked on the assumption that the more and the bigger the images they could put on a sheet, the more copies they would sell.

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National Library of Scotland 2004

National Library of Scotland