Engraving is the act
or art of producing figures and designs on metals and other
substances by incision or corrosion.
Work that is done by
incision is distinguished as dry-point; that engraved by
corrosion is particularized by the name of the special process
by which it is affected, as etching, mezzotint, etc.
Dry-point is engraved
with gravers and similar small tools, which are made to cut by
the force of the muscles of the hand; for large work small
chisels, struck with a hammer, are employed also. Various acids,
usually compounded, are used in the different corroding
The practice of engraving is comparatively clean and
inexpensive, and its elementary principles are easily learned.
Ordinarily diligent pupils can make such progress as to give
them encouragement to greater efforts, and by assiduous practice
can become expert engravers capable of earning their living by
the practice of the art.
Engraving is a very
ancient art. Engraving on stone and on signets is mentioned in
the early part of the Old Testament. In Exodus, Moses is
directed to take two onyx stones and grave on them the names of
the children of Israel.
“With the work of
an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a signet, shalt
thou engrave the two stones with the names of the children of
Israel" (Ex. xxviii. 11). Job exclaims: "Oh! That my words were
graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever “(Job xix.
The "iron pen and lead" are strongly suggestive of
chiseling out the letters and filling in the channels with lead,
a process frequently adopted for monumental engraving.
hieroglyphics on monoliths and on the walls of the tombs are
engraved. The tools, weapons, and ornaments of the ancient
Egyptians were often elaborately engraved.
Chasing, carving, and
sculpture, which are allied arts, flourished amongst these
people. When the Israelites went out of Egypt amongst them were
many skilled in the art of engraving, as frequent allusions
The Greeks learned the
art of engraving and chasing in metals; it was much practiced
and had considerably advanced in the time of Homer.
specimens of Grecian engraving show the excellence to which the
art had attained. The Etruscans,
whose vases and other works of art are still unsurpassed for
beauty of form, appear to have attained the highest degree of
skill in chasing.