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Engraving Metals by Paul N. Hasluck, 1912



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 processes.

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. 25).

 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.

The Egyptian 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 show.

The Greeks learned the art of engraving and chasing in metals; it was much practiced and had considerably advanced in the time of Homer.

Many 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.

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