Copper Plate Aisley S. Esq - Late 18th century
This copper plate was produced in the 18th century as an armorial ware commission for Aisley S Esq.
Stephen Aisley Esq of Kensington, London was a benefactor of a charity school for the apprenticing of boys. He was a subscriber to the first edition of the Voyage of Governor Phillips to Botany Bay in 1789. He died early in the 19th century.
- Type of object: Manufacturing paraphernalia and miscellany/engraving
- Mark: Both plate are engraved on the reverse with S. Aisley Esq.
- Year produced: Late 18th century
- Body: Copper
- Material: metal
- Decoration: engraved
- Accession number: CP11 / CP11a
Copper Plate Engraving
Copper Plate Engraving
Copper plates were used in the ceramics trade from the mid 18th century. Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795) used Liverpool partners Guy Green and John Sadler to supply him with a selection of transfer-printed designs for his cream-coloured earthenware (Queen's ware).
The process of using copper plates involves firstly creating a design by way of etching it on to a flat copper plate. A heated mixture of oil and colourring oxide is applied to the plate and wiped off, leaving the colour lying within only the lines of the of the engraved design. A sheet of wet tissue paper is then laid on the plate and a thick pad of flannel placed on top. The sandwich is then repeatidly pressed and after a whiile the tissue peeled off of the copper. The tissue is then applied to the surface of the ware and again rubbed in order to transfer the print from the tissue onto the ware itself. The paper is then gently washed off leavbing just the design printed on the ware. The ware is then fired in order to permenantly adhere the design to the ware.
Copper plate engravings were also used in a process known as Bat printing. A glue bat is an animal glue, produced from boiling up bones and skins, to which was added ale and ising glass, was then poured into shallow pans and allowed to set to a thin jelly sheet, about one eighth of an inch thick. This sheet, or bat, had a smooth shiny surface ideally suited to hold the tiny amount of oil used in the transfer process. The copper plate was lightly oiled, the surface being wiped to leave oil only in the indentations of the design. The bat was pressed firmly against the plate and lifted to leave the design in oil on the glue surface. The bat was then applied to the glazed ceramic, pressed down and carefully lifted away, the design in oil transferred now to the surface of the glaze. This oil outline is then dusted with powdered ceramic colour.