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Color Printing (Mehrfarbendruck)

Two-color printing by E. Ratdolt for "Elementa geometriae" Two-color printing by E. Ratdolt for "Chronicon" Two-color printing by J. Hamman for "Missale Romanum"

In the medieval period, not only black ink but also blue or red ink was used for manuscripts. To reproducing these colors, Gutenberg tried printing the 42-line Bible using red ink, but this was not successful, and he finished the work by handwriting the parts that had been originally planned to be printed in red. In 1457, Fust and Schöffer printed the initials in color in Psalterium (Mainz Psalter), but color printing did not spread widely in subsequent years, presumably due to technical difficulties. The early 1480s, however, saw printers such as E. Ratdolt of Augsburg who excelled in printing parts of books in red ink.

During the incunabula period and for a long time thereafter, illustrations were hand colored. In the 17th and 18th centuries, color printing began with mezzotint, aquatint and other types of intaglio printing. When Sir Isaac Newton put forward his theory of the three primary colors of light in the late 17th century, J.C. Le Blon utilized this theory for color printing. In the 19th century, lithography was invented, prompting the development of a coloring technique called "chromolithography." Today, offset printing is widely used for color printing.

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