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Transfer printing , overprinting or autography is the name of a process in printing technology in which the print image is transferred from the transfer paper to a lithographic stone or a metal plate. In addition to this, there are other processes in which the transfer paper is used, such as the transfer of the print image from printing form to printing form.

Alois Senefelder already described the advantages of transfer printing in his textbook: This manner is entirely unique to chemical printing, and I am more inclined to believe that it is the most important of my entire invention. In the lithography, the printed image must be drawn on the stone the wrong way round. Senefelder solved this problem by executing his work on a special paper the wrong way round and transferring it to a stone. In this way he received a reversed print image on the stone and, in turn, a reversed print.


The lithographer or artist can produce the transfer paper themselves. Here, a sheet of paper is coated with a water-soluble coating that forms a separating layer between the drawing and the paper. The main ingredients are bone glue , starch , chalk and gum arabic . The mass is evenly applied to the paper with a sponge or brush and, after drying, pulled through the lithographic press on a smoothly sanded lithographic stone. This smoothes the surface of the coated paper and can now be written on by the lithographer with an autograph ink . Before transferring the printing onto the stone, the paper is moistened on the reverse side and the layer side is then placed on the previously heated stone. The stone is pulled through the hand press with light pressure. The transfer paper must stick smoothly to the stone and is now moistened with so-called separating water until it can be easily removed like a transfer . After that, the printed image should appear clean on the stone and there should be no residues on the transfer paper.

In the commercial field of lithographic printing, transfer printing or overprinting was used to transfer the existing print image from one stone to another. The so-called Berlin overprint paper was used as the transfer paper and is available in stores ready-coated. Since the automated lithographic press larger stones were used, the original lithograph needed depending on the print run and size to several benefits accurately be transmitted. It was important to work very precisely, because the individual colors of each lithograph had to match each other exactly. This was done by needling or attaching the transfer prints to a sheet of cardboard that corresponded to the print format. Each individual color had register marks on the side outside of the printed image, which were pierced in the middle with a sharp needle. After attaching the first color, all other colors were positioned on the cardboard sheet exactly the pinholes of the first color and plugged . The employees working here were therefore called Aufsteckers . The transfer to the machine stone corresponded to the procedure described above.

Another form of transfer was gossip or fake printing . This was used in chromolithography to provide the number of stones with the contours of the printed image corresponding to the number of colors. The lithographer previously created a contour drawing of the original image from fine lines that contained outlines and color differences and served as a preliminary drawing for the later chromolithography. Transfer paper was also used for this, but only provided with a light, low-fat color so that the outlines of the preliminary drawing did not later take on any printing ink.

Transfer printing was also used in chemigraphy , but referred to as autotypography . The print image was drawn with autograph ink on transfer paper or printed on transfer paper from letterpresses , lithographs and copperplate engravings , transferred to zinc plates and etched up. Lithographed or copperplate-printed transfer paper was and is also used in the manufacture of decorated ceramics, especially in crockery made of earthenware .

See also


  • Jürgen Zeidler: lithography and stone printing. Ravensberger Buchverlag, 1994. ISBN 3-473-48381-8
  • Walter Domen: The lithography: history, art, technology. Dumont paperback books, Cologne 1982. ISBN 3-7701-1431-0

Individual evidence

  1. Alois Senefelder: Complete textbook of the stone printing shop. P. 297. Munich, Vienna 1818
  2. a b c Jürgen Zeidler: lithography and stone printing. S. 36. Ravensberger Buchverlag, 1994. ISBN 3-473-48381-8