Thanks for the post. It got me curious, so I googled and found the
"The photogravures in Photographs of Mexico were printed by The
New York Photogravure and Color Company of NYC in an edition of 250
copies. A heavy Damar varnish was applied over the images, which in
most cases has since darkened. In 1967, Strand reissued the work as The
Mexican Portfolio, in a larger edition printed by Andersen Lamb
Company, of Brooklyn, and with a varnish that has not yellowed. Both
editions were printed by the most skilled gravure pressmen of the time,
producing flawless photogravures that are rich and extremely detailed. "
Damar varnish is also referred to as Dammar gum, as it turns out:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dammar and was typically used to varnish
Seems like overkill to varnish a photogravure though. Oil based ink
on cotton rag or alpha cellulose paper is essentially pH neutral
anyway, isn't it? So I'd never varnish a photogravure for
If I wanted to impose a texture, I'd chin colle and if I wanted a
glossy finish, I wouldn't do a photogravure.
For richer blacks I've been having great luck with the slightly thicker
KM83 polymer plates to get a deeper etch and omitting modifiers to the
Speaking of varnishes, I was out in San Francisco teaching and a
friend showed me a boxed set of Paul Strand photogravures—the Mexican
Collection. This set was a second printing done around 1960 from the
original plates and is considered the best. Beautiful photogravures.
They were also varnished with a clear varnish. It really gave them
that "wet look" with deep blacks. I don't know if any of the list
members might know of a varnish that is commonly used with
photogravures? The varnish extended just beyond the image area into
the plate mark. I am guessing it might have even been sprayed on. It
was very even.
Any thoughts out there?