About 25 years ago, I purchased a group of Belgian advertising cards that date to the 1840s. They're all printed from engraved metal plates that were beautifully inked by hand. As one who has experimented with etching plates, I can tell you that the inking of these cards was done by a real master. These colors were all applied to one plate by essentially rubbing the colors into etched grooves. The surface of the plate was then wiped clean, without smearing the colors. Inking the type above into three distinct colors was therefore extremely exacting work.
The originals of all the cards are a little creamier than the scans, but all of the cards are in remarkably clean condition. Each card is approximately the size of an index card, or 3" x 5". I'm including an angled photograph of one of the cards to show that the inks have a rich metallic sheen. Where you see a rusty red on the scan, you see a lovely coppery red on the original.
The cards have lasted for about 170 years in part because they were printed on a very high-quality, stiff paper that was baked with a clay surface. That in turn produced the glossy finish you see above.
|Click on any card to enlarge it.|
This detail from the last card would date it no earlier than 1841, though several of the cards look as though they could easily be from the 1700s.