Page 9 - August 2014
P. 9

early work which first brought to the surface     talent for innovaƟon also saw the producƟon
my love for colour, which has always remained    of several new invenƟons for printers,
with me, and which has become stronger with      including a device for shaping, bending and
the passing years.”                              crimping brass rule to create complex, fanciful
                                                 paƩerned borders. John Earhart also invented
Earhart’s fascinaƟon with the science of colour  “Chaostype”, a method of producing and
prompted him to take up wood engraving.          prinƟng complex ‘organic’ images from the
His experience as a woodworker proved            raw material of leƩerpress itself–molten type
invaluable and he quickly became adept at        metal. A cash prize of $100 was awarded to
engraving wood blocks. He was also a skilled     him by the publishers of The Inland Printer for
arƟst, with a natural talent for illustraƟon,    the most arƟsƟc card produced in colour.
which enabled him to engrave almost
anything he needed for his experiments           Earhart & Richardson were among the earliest
with colour in later life. AŌer two years with   exponents of so-called ‘ArƟsƟc PrinƟng’ and
the State Journal, and a further three in        developed a style which was iniƟally unique
Chillicothe, Ohio, he returned to Columbus       to their business, although the patent in
where he set up his own prinƟng business,        Earhart’s Chaostype process (someƟmes
trading as The Earhart PrinƟng Company.          described as “Owltype”) was licenced to
He moved to CincinnaƟ in 1885 where he           other commercial printers and soon adopted
ran the Graphic Press for two years before       by companies including Raithby Lawrence
seƫng up the firm of Earhart & Richardson.        in the UK. Earhart himself was impressed by
Colour science remained a fascinaƟon, and his    the Leicester company’s skill in applying his
                                                 process and was highly complimentary about
                                                 the quality of their work.

                                                 The examples on these pages incorporate
                                                 secƟons of Chaostype decoraƟon. The
                                                 prinƟng plates were produced by several
                                                 different methods. At the heart of Earhart’s
                                                 system was molten type metal, which was
                                                 carefully poured into a casƟng box (used for
                                                 making stereotype plates) without a mould
                                                 in place. The liquid metal could be Ɵpped in
                                                 horizontally or verƟcally, depending upon
                                                 the effects required. Dampening the base
                                                 of the casƟng box, or even trickling a liƩle
                                                 water into the void before the metal was
                                                 poured could create spectacular effects as
                                                 the liquid vapourised and the steam created
                                                 bubbles within the rapidly cooling typemetal
                                                 alloy. Swirls, loops, crystalline starbursts
                                                 and random meandering rivulets appeared
                                                 within the surface of the Chaostype plate,
                                                 which could then be removed and cut into
                                                 strip material, mounted and made ready
                                                 for prinƟng. A rather disappoinƟng-looking

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