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Copper Photogravure Plates


There are 56 copper plates for photogravure (the creation of copper stamps for the reproduction of photographs). These are wrapped in tissue paper (previously in standard paper bathroom hand-towels) and stored in two separate boxes (2019.ast.1-30 in one, 2019.ast.31-56 in another). There are some duplicate images. Each of these consists of a metal plate fixed to a block of wood. In some cases, two plates are affixed to one block of wood (counted as two plates) or individual photographs are combined to create a collage (counted as one plate). Many of these have pencil labels written on the side of the block; some have examples of the photograph stuck to the rear of the block; many have a sheet of paper.

The majority of these depict images of the David Dunlap Observatory, particularly its construction. A few depict astronomical images, including the sun, a nebula, and the surface of the moon.

In the base of the smaller box, there are some sheets of paper. Some of these appear to be cut from a U of T exam schedule pamphlet.

Accession Number: 2019.ast.136.1-56

Alternative Name:

Primary Materials: Wood, Metal: Copper, Metal: Unknown


The majority of the plates have “astro” handwritten in pencil around the edge. Most also have identifiable labels, also written in pencil.

One plate has a cardboard cover. This is stamped twice with: “JUL 19 1948”, and has written in ink on it: “OBSERVATORY

Written in blue pencil on the back of one of the plates depicting the surface of the moon: “Journal RASC 1919
Return to C.A. Chant
Univ. of Toronto”

Stamped in ink on the wooden blocks of some of the ink-stained plates: “C.G.E.”
Stamped into the wood of the ink-stained blocks: “R.G. & B, TORONTO
313 [????????]”

Written on the smaller box that contains the plates: “Royal Astronomical Waste”

Dimensions (cm): Box: 41, Width = 28, Height = 28


Photogravure enables the creation of <a href=””>photographic intaglio plates</a> on copper. These plates enable the simple reproduction of detailed photographic images. These were likely created for teaching or use use in documents by Professor Clarence A. Chant.


Very good: These plates show signs of use in the form of ink staining around the wooden edges of the plates. Four of the plates are stained with dark ink; this appears to be due to manufacture rather than use–these three appear to have been made at the same place. The copper seems to be in excellent condition. A few of the plates have seperated from their wooden blocks. The pencil labels written on the sides or reverse of the wooden blocks are in some cases difficult to read.

Associated Instruments: 2019.ast.137


R.G. & B., Toronto; Premiere Engravers & Electrotypers Limited; Unknown?

Date of Manufacture: c. 1935


These appear to have been had made by Department of Astronomy professor Clarence Chant, perhaps for teaching. They appear to have been kept with Chant at the Department in the Physics Building at U of T. They may at some point have been moved from the university to the David Dunlap Observatory. If so, they were moved back from the David Dunlap Observatory in Richmond Hill in 2009, upon the sale of the observatory. It was stored at the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics until 2017, when they were moved to a new storage location in McLennan Physical Laboratories.

Additional Information and References:

Historical Notes: