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A Victorian “scrap”, also known as lithography, is coloured printed papers and usually embossed die cuts that were used in Victorian times by both children and adults for various past times and collections. Scraps first appeared at the beginning of the 19th century in the form of engravings in black and white and tinted by hand. Colour printing came into play in 1837 and chromolithography and scrap manufacturers appeared mostly in Germany and Great Britain. These pre-cut scraps were relief stamped and embossed to give them a three-dimensional look and feel. They were sold in sheets connected with small strips to join them together.
This scrap depicts a rather well-turned-out pavement artist sitting next to railings and begging for money from passers-by. There are two small, well-dressed children placing money in his hat while another, older, girl looks on. On the pavement can be seen drawings typical of Victorian Screevers; a portrait of a famous Politician in an oval frame, a seascape (which often featured a shipwreck) and the head of a salmon on a plate, above it a piece of bread, which was often accompanied by the words “Easy to draw, hard to eat”
The scrap measures 100 x 180 mm and dates from around the 1880’s, the illustrator is unknown.
Collections of scraps were pasted into special scrap albums and Victorians mixed calling cards, greeting cards and any pictures they liked and wanted to keep that were special to them. A lot of people group their collections by themes or special occasions with verses and poems. Middle-class Victorians loved sentimentality and keepsakes.
Scraps were used for decoupage, collage, gift cards, valentines, dressing screens, decorating furniture, decorating small trinket boxes, fans, table tops, trunks etc. These are also used for Victorian ornaments, scrap booking, graphic arts, stickers, and whatever the heart desires.
In the sixteenth century the commonplace book was used to record “good sayings and notable observations”, for the owner it served as a personal repository of wisdom and information.
The development of scrap books and albums date from the 18th century, they contained a wide variety of printed material, as well as paintings, drawings and “…a medley of scraps, half verse and half prose and something’s not very like either, where wise folk and simple alike to combine, and you write your nonsense, that I may write mine.”
With its elaborately embossed binding the scrap album or scrap book was an object of admiration, giving endless and pleasant recreation for its owner. Early albums, compiled mainly by young ladies of some social standing, were neatly arranged with poetry and original writings, often florid and sentimental together with the other accomplishments expected of every intelligent and well informed young lady – drawing and painting. Suitable items were added with care and enthusiasm.
Related blog: LITHOGRAPHY (1829)
Researched by Philip Battle