The Significance of Engraving  

The Significance of Engraving

Look around you. There’s a lot of metal, plastic and other types of man-made material around your home or environment. Even the smartphone that you’re probably using to read this on, can be engraved. Modern technology has paved the way for multi-functional devices, including laser etching and custom-made engraving. Although there’s still a lot of hand engraving done today, what were the early beginnings of engraving and etching?

Early Masters of Engraving in Europe

The first documented case of human engraving dates back to 60,000 years ago in the Middle Stone Age. Engraving on bone in ivory was a technique used for art in many prehistoric periods and cultures around the world. Although, glass engraving which was usually done by using a wheel, appears to have early beginnings as the first century A.D. A book by Arthur M. Hind, states that there were many anonymous engravers in the 15th century who were from Holland, Italy, and Germany, respectively. These early masters of engraving and etching became popular the 16th century. Much of this engraving was to create artwork and to personalize their own belongings.

Magazine and Book Engraving

As time went on, paper material was made widely available and thus engraving was historically used for producing images on paper. This was in regards to print making for newspapers, magazines, and mapmaking. Later, engraving was used for commercial reproductions and illustrations for magazines and books. So how did this affect our modern day engraving methods?

Modern Day Paper Engraving

Today we still use engraving on paper for money, this helps prevent counterfeiting banknotes, etc. This also goes for checks, bonds, and other security sensitive type of paperwork. A normal printer cannot re-create the details of hand engraved images nor it can be scanned. Other applications today for contemporary uses of engraving is found on jewelry and on engraved plaques and awards. As mentioned earlier in this blog post, you can engrave a special message on the back of your smartphone or on your wedding ring. The method of engraving still seems to be important today for the notion that it can never be erased. Just like the early human discoveries of bone and ivory engravings or cave etchings, in a few thousand years, you’ll still be able to read or view the art, imagery, or banknote designs we will one day leave behind.