Modern Letter Engraving in Theory and Practice by Fred Holmes Rees, 1898

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Subtitled: “A manual for the use of Watchmakers, jewelers and Other Metal Engravers”.

This 182 page book, published in 1898, covers letter engraving in exhaustive and thorough detail. If you are learning engraving this is another essential for your library. Every goldsmith, too, should consider it for your collection.

The book is intended as a self study course in letter engraving. It begins with graver preparation instructions and basic polishing and finishing tools for it. The author makes a case for an unpolished but sharpened graver leaving textured cuts that can be used in design terms.

Information on design and layout is addressed, using dilute china white to thin coat the surface for layout (or wiping your index finger through your hair and then patting the resultant oil onto the metal surface). Practice plates and designs for practicing and learning are illustrated. The ‘line of beauty’ is described and its core use in lettering explained: it is used in 20 out of 26 script letters. Also addressed are the principles of the ‘capital stem and body stroke’; The author describes a turntable of his own design to allow finished silver vessels as well as flat plates to be engraved. A precursor of the engravers ball used today. This tool reduces scratches on the object during engraving.

Then the engraving of each letter in turn is dealt with in great depth, with many small comments and tips about holding, planning and carrying out the engraving. Each is given comprehensive step by step sequences of which cut to make in what order, how to do it and why. The making of an angle guide tool is described.

Monograms and their layout principles in varied spaces and their special engraving tools are shown, as are engraving balls. Block, Roman, Old English, German, Gothic, Ciphers, shaded letters, bright cut, flourishes. Ribbon work, and other kinds of lettering are covered. Patinas are described as well, darkening silver to obtain contrast with the lettering.

This book is an essential for anyone interested in engraving metals, whether for jewelry or printmaking.

Charles Lewton-Brain © 2012

File Size: 9.90MB, 182 Pages

Files Included:
  • ModernLetterEngrRees_wmk.pdf