Tag Archives: Prints

In Print Exhibition Now in the Entrance Gallery

The In Print exhibition, currently in the entrance gallery, is a selection of the interesting prints we’ve come across as part of the Making Prints Public project. This exhibition is one of two print related exhibitions in the museum at the moment, with Comets, Meteors and Fireballs in the basement gallery.


If you come to see In Print you may be initially surprised by what appears to be holes in the top of the prints in the tall glass cases at the front of the exhibition. This is the first time that the museum has used a magnet-mounting technique (instead of framing the prints). The holes are actually tiny neodymium magnets which we have used to clamp the prints against custom-made steel paper covered mounts. Magnetic strips were also used to hold on display labels.

The Making Prints Public project has been cataloguing, digitising and tweeting the museum’s print collection over 7 months. Many of the prints were taken from R.T. Gunther’s own personal collection, the Hope Portrait Collection, the Gabb collection and the Radcliffe Observatory collection. There were also items donated by John de Monins Johnson (1882–1956), printer, ephemerist, and classical scholar, and by Lewis Evans (1755–1827), mathematician, astronomer and sundial enthusiast.


A digital version of In Print can be found here. It closes on 11 June 2014.

Prints collection project update… over 1200 items catalogued!


German woodcut, cutting from book.

The researcher-cataloguer team at MHS have now finished cataloguing the prints collection, thanks to funding from the Arts Council England under the Designation Development Fund. We are now putting together an exhibition for the museum for early 2014.

Engraved by W. Bromley, London, 1797

Joseph Priestley, engraved by W. Bromley, London, 1797

We’ve been excited and amused by much of what we’ve uncovered while cataloguing over 1200 prints in the collection. It includes a range of popular techniques for making prints from the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries, including woodcuts, different styles of engravings, made using copper and steel, in line and stipple treatments, lithographs, and methods of hand and machine colouring in using inks and watercolours.

The prints collection was physically curated by our archivist, Tony Simcock, into subject-based folders over the years. Themes included astronomy, architecture, aeronautics, medicine, chemistry, pharmacy. You can see from looking in each folder how subjects have been depicted and treated in illustration over time, such as the depictions of laboratories from satires of an alchemist’s lab to a modern chemistry lab.

William Harvey,  engraved by J. Houbraken after Bemmel, Amsterdam, 1739

William Harvey, engraved by J. Houbraken after Bemmel, Amsterdam, 1739

Within the prints collection, there is a special collection of portraits of scientists. Many of these are engravings, mainly in line and stipple, created after older portraits and likenesses. Seventeenth- and eighteenth-century portraits of natural philosophers, astronomers, astrologers, antiquaries, surgeons, botanists and alchemists are often line engraved and represented in cartouches or as busts surrounded by representations of their subject (such as William Harvey Inv. No. 14459). Some of these include allegorical imagery, as the example of Joseph Priestley shows (Inv. No. 97347).

John Evans, engraved by Godfrey after Bulfinch, London, 1776

John Evans, engraved by Godfrey after Bulfinch, London, 1776

Some of the likenesses are less flattering: the example of John Evans (Inv. No. 33472), a seventeenth-century astrologer who was as famous for his debauched lifestyle as he was for his skills in mathematics, and can be seen here in an early nineteenth century stipple engraving.




Before the exhibition we will sharing interesting items on Twitter – do take a look via the new @MHSCollections account!