Lithography allows highly detailed drawings to be inexpensively reproduced at high volumes.

Before lithography, printing remained similar from Gutenberg until Senefelder’s lithographic process.

Senefelder worked as an actor and playwright. Unable to earn a living, he turned to printing as a trade but could not afford the typographic fonts and materials. Frustrated, he started experimenting with cheaper ways to print music.

According to legend, he wrote a shopping list on stone with a crayon then realized he could press the paper to the stone and the crayon would transfer. From there, he experimented with chipping away from the stone all portions except that he wished to retain ink, inventing a crude version of the modern printing plate.

Senefelder patented and expanded the use of his lithographic process. Soon, he realized that highly detailed drawings could be used for printing rather than simply letters. He used multiple stones to print different colors that could be blended together for color printing, chromolithography. Lithography quickly spread throughout Europe.

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