Pl. VI (detail) Collas, Achille  (French, 1795-1859)

In 1836 Collas developed a new machine that carefully copied, in mathematically precise reduction or enlargement, the relief and chiaroscuro of medallions and other bas-relief objects onto engraved steel plates, producing what he called a ‘numismatic engraving’ also known as Anaglyptograph. The collection of the Trésor de Numismatique, a precursor to photomechanical reproduction, contains over a thousand engraved plates and reproduces upward of 15,000 specimens. [1]

Reproduced / Exhibited

Benson, Richard, and David Frankel. The Printed Picture. New York, NY: The Museum of Modern Art, 2008. p. 93. (alt)

Hanson, David A. Checklist of Photomechanical Processes and Printing, 1825-1910. , 2017. p. 35 (alt).

Paris, Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle (MNHN), bibliothèque centrale


[1] Brunet V, 938 (International Weekly Miscellany, No. 9, Vol.1, p. 257, August 26, 1850)

Wakeman Geoffrey. 1973. Victorian Book Illustration: The Technical Revolution. Newton Abbot: David & Charles

Hanson, David Checklist of photomechanical processes and printing 1825-1910, 2017 p. 25

Benson, Richard, and David Frankel. The Printed Picture. New York, NY: The Museum of Modern Art, 2008. p. 92-93 (alt) Also see the video The Printed Picture: Bits and Pieces @5:00

Batchen, Geoffrey. Each Wild Idea: Writing, Photography, History (Cambridge, Mass.; London: MIT Press, 2001)

Buss, Jacques (ed.). Dictionnaire critique et documentaire des peintres, sculpteurs, dessinateurs et graveurs de tous les temps et de tous les pays (Paris: Gründ, 1999)

Dictionnaire de biographie française (Paris: Librairie Letouzey et Ané, 1933- ), IX (1961)

Fawcett, Trevor. ‘Plane Surfaces and Solid Bodies: Reproducing Three-Dimensional Art in the Nineteenth Century’, in Art History through the Camera’s Lens, ed. Helene E. Roberts, introd. Mary Bergstein (Amsterdam: Gordon and Breach, 1995), pp. 59-85.

Nolte, Vincent. ‘Memorial of Facts Connected with the History of Medallic Engraving and the Process of M. Collas’, Museum of Foreign Literature, Science, and Art, 32 (1838), 113-19.

Sobieszek, Robert A. ‘Sculpture as the Sum of Its Profiles: François Willème and Photosculpture in France, 1859-1868’, Art Bulletin, 62 (1980), 617-30.

Thieme, Ulrich, and Felix Becker (eds). Allgemeines Lexikon der Bildenden Künstler: von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart (Leipzig: Seemann, 1907-50)

Victoria and Albert Museum. Art & Design in Europe and America 1800-1900, introd. Simon Jervis (London: Herbert, 1987)

See Literary Gazette 1837 Article about flaws in Collas’ french system and improvements by the British.