Some welcome information from Mike Goodall regarding the “del.” after Luke Limner’s name . . .

Mike Goodall has removed my confusion regarding something that for me was a mystery:  the meaning of “del” or “DEL” after Luke Limner’s name.

In an email, Mike explained that “del” is short for delineavit (meaning “he drew it”).

Once one knows that, it is relatively easy to find out more about it.

The following note in Wiktionary is a simplified explanation:  “Up to the 1870s, book illustrations required two steps:  the artist drawing the design on paper, and then an engraver translating it to wood.  The artist’s name was often signed with ‘del.’ (for delineavit), and ‘sc.’ or ‘sculp.’ for sculpsit.”

Now that I look at that again, it is really far too simplified.  The statement of “the 1870s” is too imprecise.  The “two steps” were two of the steps generally necessary.  The drawings were often made directly onto the wood surface.  The “sc.” or “sculp.” would be used by the wood-engraver.  And yes, frequently the final illustration often had two “signatures,” one for the person who drew the original and one for the wood-engraver.  Even this, though, is a simplification.  This all assumes that wood-engravings are being used — I’m not commenting on other methods.

When I was running my London Society blog, I learned a lot about wood-engravings, since wood-engraving was the principal (or sole) method used for illustrations in London Society — though plates were probably made, in at least many cases, for the actual printing.  The website linked-to here is possibly the best I have seen regarding printing methods of the era.

A new mystery, though, is how the meaning of “del.” escaped me for so long!

Mike:  Thank you.

—Tom Sawyer

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

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