Historic prints found in Kent

Historic prints found in Kent

It’s amazing what treasures you can find...

We’ve been delving into the depths of Sibton Park’s history and are loving some old photos of the place that we’ve come across.

Sibton Park has a long history; it was constructed in 1602 but has a lovely 18th century façade. Most recently Sibton Park was actually a private boarding school for girls and, after closing in 1996, it became the stunning holiday property that you see today.

Recently we unearthed an incredible discovery… a number of copper plate ‘relief’ photographs from many years ago that give us a snap shot into the lives of the people who once called it home.

This is an archaic method of photography so we aren’t entirely sure who took the pictures, nor their exact date, but they seem to be from around the late 50s or early 60s. It’s great to see Sibton Park as it once was and the photographs depict a series of images of the school and the children who attended it at the time.

How does copper plate photography work?

Photogravure works through a type of print-making called intaglio. The image from the film positive is etched on to a copper plate, and it is this etched area that holds the ink ready to transfer as a print.

Having found the collection of etched copper plates we took them along to Medway Fine Printmakers in nearby Rochester in order to get them printed. Print expert Xtina Lamb brought the pictures to life for us.

Using a glass plate, Xtina rolled special relief ink until it was free of lumps and impurities. She then transferred a small amount of ink to another glass plate, and rolled out all the bubbles and spaces.

When she was satisfied with that she rolled the ink from the second glass plate onto the copper-plate etching.

This she placed onto an etching press, laid the paper on top, and rolled the plate through a high-pressure roller to really secure the print.

Altogether it is a laborious process and so is prone to human error. Xtina tried two or three times before she produced something she was satisfied with and went on to produce nine fantastic prints for us in total!

Take a look at the Medway Fine Printmakers website here.

Though we aren’t able to say who they have come from, it is great to see this wonderful collection of photographs and they really do provide a small window into the past.

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