The transfer- or overprint


Transfer printing and overprinting are the most important early lithographic techniques. After the principle of the lithographic process had been invented by Alois Senefelder, these techniques (1797) arose from his attempts to transfer existing printing blocks from itaglio or relief printing onto the stone in order to then be able to print from them. The first step is the transfer of texts, sheet music, a drawing or an existing printing block to a specially coated transfer paper using greasy printing ink. Then, in the second step, the retransfer / the imprint on the new print carrier took place. With this process, one arrived at a new printing form, or at further stone printing forms. The transfer printing process itself requires a lot of experience.

This method was initially used for overprinting old prints or existing printing blocks (engravings or woodcuts) on lithographic stones. The process was also used to transfer stone to stone and in chromolithography to transfer image contour drawings and lithograph the partial colors. Transfer prints were also possible from the stone onto zinc plates, e.g. for the production of clichés. So 'print data' was transferred back and forth very early on.

This process was also used to enable large printing forms to be used for printing several identical motifs together (so-called repeats). At the same time, this was also the first possibility of being able to carry out image corrections on hand-dotted tonal values by etching (with thin acid) on a zinc plate. The dot and the transfer became the midwife of reproduction technology for all printing processes long before photography made the first photomechanical correction techniques possible using reprophotography (1852) and camera raster techniques (Meisenbach 1882).

This method was used very intensively at times and continued into the 1960s. Until then, the transfer paper itself had been optimized and special machines had been developed for size changes. This process is still used in a similar way today, e.g. in thermal printing / fabric printing. Duplication methods are also known, for small editions of texts using a typewriter on a special transfer paper.