A technical dictionary of printmaking, André Béguin.

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Anastatic (printing-)
Reproduction process which copies a text that has already been printed with ink. The verso or back of the original is wetted with a solution of water and rubber to which some drops of sulfuric acid have been added. The recta, or front side, is then inked. The printer's ink used will only be caught in the places where the original was inked. This system is above all used as a transfer* system onto stone, wood, or metal. The original is, however, lost in the process.
Senefelder used this process in a great number of tests when perfecting his first lithographic technique (a kind of relief engraving on stone). These tests were made in order to transfer, in reverse, characters which he had previously written backwards on a lithographic stone. Around 1776 after "thousands of tests" he finally discovered the basic techniques of chemical lithography whose originality consisted in using the well know repulsion grease exerts on water. It was thus thanks to research done on anastatic transfers, inks with oil bases, and various other solutions that lithography was invented. "I owe my discovery of chemical lithography to these tests because the reprinting of paper onto a stone depended, above all, on the greater or lesser attraction of one substance to another."
It is by extension that photographic facsimilies* (reprint of ancient or out of print books) have also been called anastatic reprints.
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