A Treatise on Calico Printing, Of Copper - Work, Fielding, and Colour-making.


The next Part will contain the processes of copper and field-work, colour-making, account of drugs, chemical processes, &c. suggestions for a new mode of printing; an Essay on the mutual attention due from masters and men to each other. — History of Callico Frinting, in cluding biographical sketches of the most celebrated Printers, Designers, and others. — The state of country-work. — Remarks on the principal patterns lately exhibited, &c. and other matters not prudent yet to announce.

* Several articles will be given with the next part, in order to be transserred to this, that have occurred since the printing of it.
* It is here intimated that a work, distinct from this, is under contemplation, respecting Callico-Printing, which, as it will probably be expensive, Proposals for publishing it, will be offered as soon as possible.

Of Copper - Work, Fielding, and Colour-making.

A Treatise on Calico Printing, VOL. I-II
Printed for C. O'Brien, Bookseller, Islington, and fold by Bew, Paternoster-row: Richardson, Royal Exchange: Murray, Fleet-Street: And the Booksellers of Manchester, Glasgow, Dublin, &c.


(1) Colour-making in some respects maybe considered as among the first processes, or at least previous to printing (as observed elsewhere) but,as there may be occasion to introduce various considerations with it, that, by their length, would rather break in upon what is exhibited as a series of mechanical processes, it will be spoken of in a separate fectioa further on.

2) See the Introduction, where such freedom is apologized for. It may however here be added, that had the work been of a more general or public concern, such particulars would probably not have been noticed.

(3) Weighing and measuring are in many cases absolutely necessary and convenient, but numberless Circumstances concur to render deviations from fixed or imposed rules oftentimes fully as necessary; and this it is that requires, as in every other process, an understanding beyond a merely mechanical or prac tical one: As for speaking so apparently lightly of Coppermen and Field Foremen, it is not from the agreeableness of it (and general positions will not hold good in every shape) but chiefly to induce su periors not to be -very much surprized, when they commit blunders; but, on the contrary, to consider that it would be wonderful, from the reasons adduced if they did not; and thus on that account, indues such superiors to exert themselves the more to attain that kind of knowledge resulting from a close inves tigation of the principles of each department, in or der to enable them (as so often recommended in this work) to account for sailures when they happen, and prevent their happening in future.

5) Taking it for granted, that the preceding processes are perfect, the drugs and other articles proper, and making allowance for accidents that the utmost carefulness cannot prevent, or what is still more impossible to guard against, the wanton or mischievous dispositions of too many; similar to what  is said in a note at the end of the section on pitches.—See likewise the hints offered to the colour-maker about printing, &c.
Speaking of accidents that cannot he guarded against. At a printing-ground in the country, it happened that for a long time most of the pieces that came off the paiks were more or less stained of a yellowish cast, and considerable was the loss sus tained by it, and which could not be accounted for, till length it was discovered that a Rabbit-warren being neai the place, the rabbits in the night, in running over the parks, stained the pieces with their urine, or, perhaps more properly speaking, the alkaline quality of the urine disturbed the printed colours.

(6) The advantage arising from an attention of this kind by the Principal, is in respect to wellcleansing the work, and' the proper degrees of heat. To the credit ofperhaps thesirstPrinteiin the vicinity of London, this is observed by him, and the end is accordingly answered; for though the stile of work (to this time 1789) in respect to the drawing, &c. is  not of the first rate, yet the brightness of the colours, and clearness of the ground; in short, the execution of it altogether, in respect to printing and colour, gives it a claim to much commendation.

(8) Principals do not always see it, but it rarely is the case where there is a chief copperman and foreman of the sield, that they agree; for one will interfere with the other's department; and when any ill accident happens in the out door work, that cannot be easily accounted for, each is ready generally to lay the blame on the other; though perhaps neither of them is in fault. Of which the following circumstance may be a proof, as well likewise, as of that desiciency of knowledge lo often complained of among workmen, from looking no farther than to their own immediate operations.

The pale red of a number of pieces being flown, when they were taken up, though the deep red was as it should be; an inquiry into the cause of it followed of course: The copperman laid it to the fore man of the field, and he laid it to the copperman; both of them veterans in the business; but it was plain neither of them could account for it, not being able to look beyond their respective situations; for the cause rested in the pale red being flghtned with paste, an allowance of adequate strength not being given of the non-colouring drug, and the printer from a certain circumstance hitting the ground but slightly, little colour was therefore imbibed by the cloth, and consequently it soan flew off.— See colourmaking.

(7) The writer here, according to the latitude he has allowed himself, of stepping out of the track to make remarks, cannot help observing, and wish the observation may have weight where it is directed, which is, to those who not bred to callico printing or to any of the branches, precipitate themselves into it, on a presumption that their own natural sagacity or general knowledge of business, will enable them soon to conduct it with ease and advantage: but, so complex is the business of callico printing, in com prizing so many branches that may be called distinct professions, and those branches running into other divisions; that few who have been all their lives in it are equal to the management of it; to say nothing of the tediousness of some of the processes; the uncertainty that attends the successive stages; the remoteness of time from the first operation to the last; the caprice of individuals or of fashion; heavy expences, and other numberless inconveniences owing to its peculiar complicatory establifliment: hence, it may be said with confidence, that not one in ten who has thus precipitately, or even deliberately, entered into if, without the necessary preparatory knowledge, but has soon found sufficient reason to repent his so doing.

The observation may be even carried to the situation of those who with a knowledge of the business; enter into ic, without being able to form such connections as (hall uphold it, and hence, as a word of advice, if it may be permitted to be given, let every one ensure such connections before he enters in it, as it is not always found (as hinted before in a note in the section of pattern drawing) that good drawings and work answerable to them will alone be sufficient, even isa large capital is not wanting. This idea could be pursued further, Were it necessary, as it takes in the consideraion of acquaintanceship, inter, estedness, dependancy, &c. which in every stage of life tend to form those connections that mere merit will not always command.
Having treated of the operations carried on within-doors, the writer now proceeds to his Suggestions on those executed in the Copper house, and its appurtenances; or, as it is usuallytermed, the work without-doors; in which,  though not precisely proper so to arrange it, he shall include Colourmaking,(1) from its affinity to Copper-work and Fielding; but in treating of these departments, where he addresses himself to the Workmen generally employed in them, he is aware of having to encounter prejudices of the worst kind; for, to speak freely in this case, as well as he has hitherto done, (2) the generality of coppermen, and head fieldmen, and he will «dd, colourmakers, may be deemed as little ac quainted with the principles of their respective branches, or indeed of being able to consider them in any theoretical view, as laying a foundation for the practical part, as any other class, and perhaps less so, since most of them originally were little better than attendants in the copperhouse, cr colourhouse; hence their conceptions go little further than to a certain mode of operation, the only one they have seen; and it naturally fur ther follows, that good or bad, improveable or not, they rigidly adhere to it; or, to make use of a more common form of speaking among such persons, they only proceed by weight and mea sure, (3) (similar to many cutters not having an idea beyond the mere drawing, or printers beyond the pitch-pins) and according as they proceed in this formal manner, they conclude their judgments unimpeachable; and their operations perfect; and every superior knows when once hes has to contend with his Copperman or Foreman of the Field, he seldom gets any advantage by mere dint of argument; for where is there one who has been a long time in the business, but what will say in such a case? that he has seen enough to know as well as any one.

As for copperwork, the principle of it is but simple, though the various circumstances that occur in the practice render it really of consequence; the grand points depending on clean liness, and the necessary degrees of heat, and if the observations on these objects be brought into some plan, and attended to in the operation by the copperman, he seldom is in very great danger of failing; (5) nearly the same may be said of the Foreman Foreman of a Field, his instruments are, sun shine, air, and water, and an attention to their effects on what is entrusted to his care, is to de termine his proceedings.

It is not doubted but it may hurt many Coppermen and Foremen, that affect much consequence, to observe, that in some principal grounds common men only are employed at the coppers, and even in the colour house; the Superior him self or a Superintendant giving the necessary or ders, and attending to the beginning and closing of each process; (6) not but that it is perhaps necessary to have a principal person, where the business is on a scale sufficiently large, in each of these departments, as well as in every other to receive orders, and dispense the subordinate directions: (8) this, however, cannot always be done, persons proper for the occasion not being always to be procured; neither is every Principal competent to distinguish those that are so; but if he himself has a knowledge of the principles of the different departments, there is not much occasion for leaving the whole of the processes to others, provided he is not of that class who shrink from trouble, or expect to proceed with out any cause for anxiety.(7)

Adverting now immediately to the different processes considered in this section, it is again observed, how difficult it seems to be to speak of this work, or arrange the different articles in it, very methodically in regard to the processes succeeding each other; for in one respect, the first article treated of should be mentioned as preparatory to printing, but subsequent to it in another, so that the consideration of colour-making, maddering, &c coming in between, must break any  arrangement whatever, and from this consideration, it was at first intended to speak of bleaching as a distinct section, but being in callico printing so connected with the colouring part, and not so well understood as by the term preparation, it must be in troduced as well as the circumstance adduced will permit; and that seems to be, and which will accordingly ba adopted, by introducing the principal operations with theoretical suggestions, & subjoining others, as notes, that are more distant. It is however apprehended that what is advanced will in general appear more like a description of the processes, than as an analysis of them, or as reducing them into a series of rules, like what has been done in the display of the preceding articles, but here the circumstance is different, as a number of common labourers are employed in each division, taking, the work continually out of each others hands, so that in fact there are as many distinct operations as there are opera tors, therefore a regular chain of rules can not be laid down for each to observe; and if it were possible to arrange it as the writer wishes, or to bring the system in all its parts into one point of view, it could only come under the cognizance of the principal, or whomsoever he appoints; and principals (as often said) are not those to whom this work is only addressed.

It may be proper to intimate, that in the Directions, &c. respecting the operative parts, those points were chiefly attended to in which different practitioners nearly agreed; for, as two or three times observed, what renders the disficulty great in treating subjects of this nature, is, that the discussion appears no sarther reasonable or proper to any one person, than as it is reconcileable to his own ideas of practice; and there are seldom two who agree in the same mode; hence, it is endeavoured, rather than dwell upon certain little practical circumstances, to give some general theoretical hints, as tending to convey what is so very much wanted among the majority of those to whom this work is addressed, that is, some idea of the principles on which their ope rations depend, as such a knowledge, if it can be conveyed, every one must grant will more lead an operator towards some perfection in his prosession, than merely exhibiting a heap of practical directions, or displaying a number of precise rules, as all the experience attained from long practice will never form the adept, without a theoretical knowledge.


Note, In the following suggestions, phrases and words not in common use, will be as much avoided as possible, and more familiar ones substituted; such as oily for oleaginous—thick or clammy for glutinous or mucilaginous,—various for heterogeneous, &c. A Glostary will be however annexed, explaining those words that could net with propriety be altered.

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