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In 1855, collotype printing was developed by Louis-Alphonse Poitevin.
At the same time as Poitevin, Paul Pretsch, a master typesetter at the K.u.K. Hofdruckerei in Vienna, achieved similar results. He patented this process, which was similar to Poitevin's, as early as 1854.

1865, C. Marie Tessié du Motay and Charles Raphael Maréchal in Metz experimented with copper plates as a printing base. However, they had difficulties with the gelatine sticking to the copper plate. Their process was patented as Phototypie in 1865.

1868 Max Gemoser introduced collotype printing on stone.

1868, Joseph Albert, Bavarian court photographer in Munich, introduced collotype printing to the public under the name Albertotypie. He was the first to use glass plates as print carriers.

1873, he had the first high-speed collotype press built by Faber & Co in Offenbach and thus brought collotype printing to the stage of series production.

1887 August Albert, professor at the K. und K. Graphische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt in Vienna, published an improved recipe for pre-preparation. He further developed Max Gemoser's collotype on stone by printing the subject on the lithographic stone with transfer ink on transfer paper. This technique had many advantages, because in contrast to collotype printing on stone, positive and negative corrections were possible.

Joseph Albert was the first to successfully experiment with three-colour collotype. August Albert in Vienna also experimented with three-colour collotype printing from nature photographs.


First plate Yellow


Second plate Red


First and second plate printed on top of each other

Third plate Blue

In 1887, Josef Löwy from Vienna reported that colour light printing "does not appear to him to be achievable in a practical way and, to all appearances, will not be achieved in the near future either."
In "Eder's Yearbook 1887" he described his own colour process, which he had been using since 1 November 1887.

He "made 6-8 negatives with orthochromatic exposures and filters, then, depending on the need, covered up on each negative what was too much and what was disturbing in the colour, made collotype plates from them and printed the colours on top of each other in the appropriate order by means of collotype."

He called his process
facsimile printing and thus paved the way, beyond commercial collotype printing, for reproductions that are still unsurpassed today.


Collotype by the Österreichische Staatsdruckerei in Vienna approx.1920


Facsimile of the Black Bible, commissioned by
former Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia.
One of the last orders accepted by the Österreichische
Staatsdruckerei in collotype, approx. 1965.


Detail section

The facsimile (Latin fac simile "make it similar"; plural: facsimiles or facsimilia) is a faithful copy or reproduction of an original with all its errors and is indistinguishable from the original. 

Since Joseph Albert introduced the process, the principle of this photomechanical reproduction process has remained largely unchanged, contrary to the general technological development in the printing industry. 

After a rapid worldwide spread of the technology and a "heyday" around the turn of the century, collotype printing was industrially displaced by modern processes such as offset printing as a too complex and cost-intensive process towards the end of the 20th century. This was because all worldwide attempts to make collotype more efficient as a process without compromising quality for mass circulation were unsuccessful.
With the invention and establishment of offset printing, the focus of collotype shifted to the reproduction of photographs, manuscripts, graphics and images.

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