Charles Dickens’ account of cylinder printing, 1852.

‘A Plated Article’ by Charles Dickens appeared in Household Words in 1852. It was reprinted by W.T. Copeland & Sons in 1930. After a visit to Copeland’s, Dickens is having his dinner, and imagines his printed dinner-plate saying:

‘Didn’t you inspect the copper-plate on which my pattern was deeply engraved? Didn’t you perceive an impression of it taken in cobalt colour at a cylindrical press, upon a leaf of thin paper, streaming from a plunge-bath of soap and water? Wasn’t the paper impression daintily spread by a light-fingered damsel (you know you admired her) over the surface of the plate, and the back of the paper rubbed prodigiously hard - with a long tight roll of flannel, tied up like a round of hung beef – without so much as ruffling the paper, wet as it was? The (says the plate), was not the paper washed away with a sponge, and didn’t there appear, set off upon the plate, this identical piece of Pre-Raphaelite blue distemper which you now behold?’