Engraving is the practice of incising a design onto a hard, flat surface, by cutting grooves into it. The result may be a decorated object in itself, as when silver, gold or steel are engraved, or may provide an intaglio printing plate, of copper or another metal, for printing images on paper, which are called engravings. Engraving was a historically important method of producing images on paper, both in artistic printmaking and also for commercial reproductions and illustrations for books and magazines. It has long been replaced by photography in its commercial applications and partly because of the difficulty of learning the technique, is much less common in printmaking, where it has been largely replaced by etching ( a method of engraving in which lines or textures are bitten, or etched, into a metal plate, usually copper, with acid) and other techniques.
In antiquity, the only engraving that could be carried out is evident in the shallow groves found in some jewelry after the beginning of the 1st Millennium B.C. Furthermore, the majority of so-called engraved designs on ancient gold rings or other items were produced by chasing or sometimes a combination of lost-wax casting and chasing. During the Middle Ages, goldsmiths used engraving to decorate and inscribe metalwork. It is tought that they began to print impressions of their designs to record them. From this grew the engraving of copper printing plates to produce artistic images on paper, known as old master prints in Germany in the 1430s. like wise, Italy soon followed. The great period of the engraving was from about 1470 to 1530. By the nineteenth century, most engraving was for commercial illustration. Engravings continued to be common in newspapers and many books into the early 20th century, as they were cheaper to use in printing than photographic expression.
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