Photogravure of Monotype

Houses on Battery Park, 1905.

Monotypes are almost never seen in books since each individual print is unique, painted and printed directly from one wet plate. A way of getting around that is to take a photograph of the monotype and transfer it to another copperplate, which is etched and printed as a photogravure. This is what Charles Mielatz chose to do when the Society of Iconophiles requested a series of downtown Manhattan buildings for their October 1908 portfolio.

St. John’s Chapel, Varick Street, 1904.

Richard H. Lawrence, Iconophiles treasurer wrote to subscribers:

“Our process of reproduction of the monotypes is the photogravure process, but we have made plates for each separate color, some of the subjects requiring five plates, and then printed by the superimposed method. The difficulty of getting a perfect register by this method (we are obliged to wet the paper before each printing) has been so great as to make it almost impossible heretofore even with two plates, but we have succeeded with five plates and the plate mark, which really makes six separate printings for some of the subjects.

Color printing from photogravures is usually done from one plate, and the printer fills in the color on the plate, using colored inks, and then pulling one impression. But prints generally require retouching with water color, and are not, strictly speaking, entire prints, as is the work we have done for you. It seemed to us that this method would make the most perfect reproductions of your subjects, and enable us to use paper similar in character to that used in your monotypes, and we are happy to say we have met with success.”

Oyster market on West Street, 1903.

Van Cortland Manor House, 1901.



Society of Iconophiles, Picturesque New York: twelve photogravures from monotypes by C.F.W. Mielatz (New York: Society of Iconophiles, 1908). “Edition limited to one hundred sets. Published in October, 1908.” Graphic Arts RECAP-91157352