Collotype printing was the state of the art for photographic reproduction at the turn of the twentieth century. However, due to the high level of expertise needed to obtain consistent results, it was quickly replaced by the faster, cheaper, more mechanized process of offset printing.
True Continuous Tone
One of the collotype’s distinguishing characteristics is the ability to display extremely fine tonal gradations and a practically infinite range of values. By approximating the full array of perceptible tones—from deep shadow to brilliant highlight—collotype prints faithfully render photographic images in exquisite detail.
Rich Pigment Ink
Collotypes are made with opaque, oil-based pigment inks that are formulated to be maximally lightfast for enduring archival prints. These pigment inks bond to the paper’s surface, and can be meticulously layered by skillful printers to create luscious images of unmatched richness and depth.
While typical photographic prints are necessarily produced on machine-made papers with a limited range of textures and weights, the collotype process may be applied to a wide variety of fine-art substrates. Benrido’s expert pressmen can print on handmade papers and textiles made from various fibers, including cotton, linen, silk, rice, and vellum—providing artists with extraordinary latitude in the selection of materials.
Fine Art within Reach
In the age of digital reproduction, the irregularities that result from this analog process imbue each impression with the singular quality of a handmade work of art. Because editions of up to several hundred are possible, collotypes are accessible to collectors whose means may prevent them from investing in extremely rare prints.