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The way we were

Aug 1, 2007 12:00 AM

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Since its inception in 1879, Goes Lithographing has produced multicolor labels, posters and images for various trade channels to distribute. Years ago, office forms and one-color checks were among the most popular products.

Goes' archives include images stored on stone, metal, glass, film and digital media. In the early days of the company, artists rendered graphics that Goes reproduced for sale to the public. Goes purchased many small lines of pictures in the years prior to 1940 as well as creating its own subjects for sale. All were lithographed from stone and zinc plates in one to 10 colors depending on the degree of impression required.

From 1835 to 1907, Currier and Ives popularized an unusual yet effective colorizing technique. A litho would be printed in one or two colors of black and gray, and then colorized by an artist following a supplied sample.

Goes used the color fill method extensively for commercial, hand bill and event program works. Finer tones were done in repeated color formats on separate plates using stipple techniques of dot placement for tonal ranges, a technique that still is used for the company's religious picture line.

1885 ushered in photography's halftone era. Smoother tones could be produced in black and white, but until the 1930s, it was impossible to photograph color and separate it into the components we recognize as color printing today.

The techniques used to adjust tone and enhance scenes in Goes' early prints included scraping negatives to put solid red flags over solid yellow ink to get a bright red. White stripes were opaqued out in six to eight colors to show white paper only. Smooth tones were obtained by spraying negatives and positives with opaque, a black India Ink substance. Producing six to eight colors might take three to 10 weeks and require many test plates.

Until 1960, most ink was very opaque and produced a darker color gamut than today's inks. Six to 10-color lithography relied on adjacent color being produced by single or two-color process — with 10 colors required to make a full gamut. Shadows were very deep and highlights filled with pink, light blue-greens, oranges and grays.

By 1989 Goes replaced conventional color reproduction and film retouching with scanning. This yielded digital files to be manipulated for color, size and contrast before printing.

For more Goes history, see