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Etching Plates
In traditional pure etching, a metal (usually copper, zinc or steel) plate is covered with a waxy ground which is resistant to acid. The artist then scratches off the ground with a pointed etching needle where he or she wants a line to appear in the finished piece, so exposing the bare metal. The √©choppe, a tool with a slanted oval section, is also used for "swelling" lines. The plate is then dipped in a bath of acid, technically called the mordant (French for "biting") or etchant, or has acid washed over it. The acid "bites" into the metal (it dissolves part of the metal) where it is exposed, leaving behind lines sunk into the plate. The remaining ground is then cleaned off the plate. The plate is inked all over, and then the ink wiped off the surface, leaving only the ink in the etched lines. The plate is then put through a high-pressure printing press together with a sheet of paper (often moistened to soften it). The paper picks up the ink from the etched lines, making a print. The process can be repeated many times; typically several hundred impressions (copies) could be printed before the plate shows much sign of wear. The work on the plate can also be added to by repeating the whole process; this creates an etching which exists in more than one state. The museum displays a hundred of varieties of cards etching plates.

Etching plate of Naipes cartes, France, c.19th century.

Etching plate of Jeu de cartes de la Révolution de 1830, called "Jeu des barricades", France, c.19th Century (probably 1830, date of first edition of this fortune telling cards).

Etching plate of Jeu de Jeu de Carte Comique, type Lenormand Cards, France, c.19th century (c.1814-1830, date proposed by BNF - National Bibliotheque of France)
Etching plate of Jeu de Carte de Bon Aventure, Bourchard, Paris, c.19th century (probably 1816-1830, date suggested by National Bibliotheque of France).

Etching plate of  a cover paper of an decks,France, c.19th century. 

Photographic Glass Plates
Photographic glass plates preceded photographic film as a capture medium in photography. The light-sensitive emulsion of silver salts was coated on a glass plate, typically thinner than common window glass, instead of a clear plastic film. Glass plates were far superior to film for research-quality imaging because they were extremely stable and less likely to bend or distort, especially in large-format frames for wide-field imaging. Early plates used the wet collodion process. The wet plate process was replaced late in the 19th century by gelatin dry plates. After large-format high quality cut films for professional photographers were introduced in the late 1910s, the use of plates for ordinary photography of any kind became increasingly rare. The museum displays a dozens of photographic glass plates.

Photographic Glass Plate of Visconti Tarot, France, c.19th century (propably 1830-1890). 
Visconti Tarot is the first tarot decks in the world, c.1480.

Photographic Glass Plate of Naipes Cards, France, c.19th century (propably 1830-1890).

Photographic Glass Plate of an unknown fortune telling cards, France, c.19th century (propably 1830-1890).

Photographic Glass Plate of 32-cards playing deck, France, c.19th century.

Woodcut & Handgravings

Woodcut is a relief printing technique in printmaking. An artist carves an image into the surface of a block of wood—typically with gouges—leaving the printing parts level with the surface while removing the non-printing parts. Areas that the artist cuts away carry no ink, while characters or images at surface level carry the ink to produce the print. The block is cut along the grain of the wood (unlike wood engraving where the block is cut in the end-grain). The surface is covered with ink by rolling over the surface with an ink-covered roller (brayer), leaving ink upon the flat surface but not in the non-printing areas. Multiple colors can be printed by keying the paper to a frame around the woodblocks (using a different block for each color). The art of carving the woodcut can be called "xylography", but this is rarely used in English for images alone, although that and "xylographic" are used in connection with blockbooks, which are small books containing text and images in the same block. The museum displays a hundred of woodcut plates.

This ensemble of woodcuts (22 plates) is used for printing the Tarot de Marseille deck, dating around 20th century. These woodcuts seem be used for book illustration or decoration.


Get in touch with the Museum



44 Nguyen Khuyen Street, An Cu Ward, Ninh Kieu District, 900 000 Can Tho City, Vietnam

Phone number

(+84) (0) 916416409