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Howard Iron Works - Printing and Bookbinding Equipment Restoration and Printing Museum  


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Alois Senefelder, a German born in Prague, first came upon the process of drawing images onto a smooth polished limestone. The concept is based on the theory that oil or grease does not mix with water. This simple stroke of genius brought credit to Senefelder as the inventor of Lithography. After patenting his invention in 1818, the world was introduced to more intricate detail and real color. For the first time, there was a process to re-create fine art works.

Alois Senefelder

As we know today, Lithography erupted and by the 1950’s surmounted Letterpress virtually capturing all of the printing market. Only since 1995 has the “Offset Lithography” process had any competition - so powerful was Senefelder’s discovery.

The HIW has several examples of this method, both by hand press (Krause) and rotary metal decorating press, R. Hoe. The limestone we have in our collection provides a glimpse into the early days of the lithographic stone period.

Litho stone or Lithographic stone is a type of fine-grained hard limestone. This homogenous and blemish-free stone was formed during the Late Jurassic period.  

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