Facsimiles: Reproductions Fulfilling the Highest Standards
Facsimile editions are reproductions of art or rare writings. There are many different terms for the reproduction of paintings, graphics, manuscripts, or books, for example, print, copy, replica, or art print. However, facsimiles are usually only used to describe reproductions that are as close as possible to the original in terms of their look and the way they feel. Their production attempts to reproduce the original authentically in terms of size, colours, and material. That includes, in particular, traces of use or ageing as well as other special features of the original object. There are various reasons for the sometimes very complex production of facsimiles. It may be necessary if an original, for example, a painting or an important historical document, needs to be preserved but should still be accessible for scholarly purposes or the public. Facsimiles can also help as many people as possible to enjoy, for example, a particularly beautiful work of art. Another advantage of a facsimile is that due to the more modern materials used these high-quality reproductions are usually less fragile than the original and are preserved for longer.
Techniques for Producing Facsimiles Yesterday and Today
With the invention of letterpress printing in the 15th century, it was already theoretically possible to produce reproductions in larger margins. However, with this technique, it was still necessary to produce printing plates by hand in a laborious process in order to copy the originals. It was not until the invention of photography or repro photography that an important prerequisite for true to the original reproductions was created. Today, modern processes such as digital photography or digital image processing additionally facilitate the work. But even with current technology, the production of a facsimile can be a highly laborious process. It always starts with a photograph or scan of the original document. This image data is prepared, if necessary, and then printed by offset or digital printing. The choice of material, for example, the paper or even the colours, is decisive. In very special cases, it may be necessary to artificially age the paper or even to deliberately soil it. Finally, special finishes, for example, gold leaf, are applied to the facsimile. Depending on the effort involved, the facsimile can be a unique piece that is only slightly inferior to the original. In this way, a facsimile painting can offer a similar enjoyment of art as an original.