Craftint Doubletone: 20th Century Time-Saver

I recently mended and made folders for items in a Lilly Library manuscript collection. The collection contains the papers of Charles A. Halleck, who served in the U.S. Congress from 1934 to 1968. There was nothing unusual about the contents of one particular box, just original drawings of political cartoons and ads regarding the congressman from the mid-thirties. Then I looked a little closer at one of Halleck’s portraits.

The hatching in the illustration looks too good. It looks manufactured, not hand-rendered, but the perimeter of the shaded areas follow the form of brush strokes, just like on Halleck’s inked lapels. I found two other drawings of Halleck with the same perfectly hatched and occasionally crosshatched tones filling out the shadows on his face and neck. Fortunately, the backs of the illustration boards are marked “Craftint Doubletone,” so that’s where I started my search.

The Ohio-based Craftint Manufacturing Company offered Doubletone and a similar paper called Singletone from 1929 until they sold the product to the Ohio Graphic Arts Center, now Grafix. Grafix renamed the product Duoshade and it was available until 2009 when it was determined obsolete in the face of programs like Adobe Illustrator, and discontinued.

A 1988 Grafix Duoshade ad from Wittyworld Magazine. From Mike Lynch Cartoons,

Twentieth century reference books and journal articles describe Craftint’s seemingly magical paper as an illustration board with a latent pattern on its surface that, when brushed with a liquid developer provided by the company, appears where desired. In these books, there is no mention of the chemical response in these latent patterns. However, as commercially successful products, I knew there must have been a patent on them.

After some digging, I found an application filed by Henry M. Baker in 1927 and patented in April 1929, the same year that Craftint started offering its product. Baker explains that by developing a silver nitrate image (a pattern of dots or lines) and blanching it with a substance like mercuric chloride to render it undetectable, a sensitized and lightfast image remains dormant until activated with a liquid developer.

Illustrations from Baker’s patent showing the linear pattern (fig. 1) before it is blanched. Figure 2 is the finished ink drawing, and Figure 3 is the completed illustration with the redeveloped tones throughout.

Baker does not specify the chemical agent used to redevelop the pattern in his application. However, a patent issued to Carl Maier and William Swaysland in 1930 also listed on Craftint’s July 1948 product catalogue uses a different approach, by which a lead sulfate (lead white) pattern is applied to the paper’s surface and a soluble sulfide is brushed on where desired, turning the lead sulfate to lead sulfide, a dark compound. And if you made a mistake on the paper? Hydrogen peroxide would convert the lead sulfide back to a white compound. Other inventors built off Baker’s initial process, leading to various combinations of chemicals and developers.

A few detail images of Halleck’s inked portraits show the blank, undeveloped surface, the India ink drawing, and the developed pattern. Since these images are on Craftint’s Doubletone paper, there are two different patterns printed on the paper’s surface. Independently, the patterns make up two groups of parallel lines that, when both are activated, appear as crosshatching. A light tone developer makes visible one set of lines. For a darker tone, another developer is applied, but only after work with the light developer is finished.

Detail of two depictions of Halleck on Craftint Doubletone. The left illustration was drawn on Doubletone No. 202, the right on No. 213. Time has affected the paper, making what was a previously hidden pattern of undeveloped lines more visible.

What made Craftint toned papers so useful for twentieth century graphic artists? The potential to bring out large areas of tone with no more effort than a brush stroke is one of Craftint’s most attractive qualities. Compared to hand-rendered hatching and stippling, the results would be swift and concise, and mistakes were easier to hide via hydrogen peroxide than scraping or masking ink. Other methods of achieving tones and patterns were not always as effective and, in the case of halftone reproduction, not as affordable. Ben Day dots, as they are known now, did not offer the same precision as Craftint’s toned papers and had to be applied one large area at a time and burnished to complete the transfer of pattern, although they were available in a variety of colors. The tonal variety seen on and around Halleck’s mouth would have been difficult to achieve with Ben Day dots. Additionally, Craftint reproduced well at reduced sizes. A proof of Halleck’s ad shows the artist’s rendering reduced to smaller than one-quarter of the original. At such a size, the hatching on the original appears as a smooth, even tone across his face.

Printer’s proof of Halleck’s ad with Doubletone illustration.

This process is very far from magic, though it surely seemed that way for artists. After dipping their brushes in clear liquid, the path of their brushstrokes immediately turned dark as it traveled across the paper. The phenomenon was easy to overdo, leading to images with many toned areas that, when reproduced into small comic strips and magazine ads, turned out cluttered and unclear. Artists commended peers who knew when to stop.


Anderson, Murphy with R.C. Harvey. The Life and Art of Murphy Anderson. North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing, 2003.

Baker, Henry M. Camera copy, and method of, and medium for making the same. 1709600, 1929.

Chow, Dave. “Grafix Duo-Shade Developer and Board.”

Ives, Ronald L. “Fabricated Diagrams.” The Journal of Geology, Vol. 47, No. 5 (1939): 517-545.

Legion of Andy. “Ben Day Dots Part 8: 1930s to 1950s- the Gold Age of Comics.”

Lilly Library. Halleck Mss, catalogue record.

Lynch, Mike.

Maier, Carl and William Swaysland. Method of producing designs and article for use therein. 1778397, 1930.

Wallace, Clarence Earl. Commercial Art. New York: McGraw Hill, 1939.

Improved Ties for Portfolios


Occasionally unbound items come into the Paper Lab that are too thin to warrant a corrugated box, but they usually require a more substantial enclosure than a folder. The middle ground between those two enclosures is a four-flap portfolio made out of 20 pt. stock or, in some instances, corrugated board.

After the portfolio is constructed, the way to secure it closed is by simply tying a length of twill tape around it like a Christmas present. Then the tape is glued in place or threaded through the back of the portfolio. The result is neither very attractive nor very efficient. When setting flat on a table, the portfolio flaps often pull away from the rest of the enclosure, no matter how tight the ties are. When open on a table, the ties easily get lost underneath the rest of the portfolio.

This photo shows just how loose the ties can be even after trying to pull them tight.

Lately I have been making more of these portfolios than usual, and I wanted to come up with a less wasteful, more effective way to secure them. A technique used in the General Conservation Lab for fastening binder’s tape to board looked promising, so I tried it a couple of months ago with a portfolio made out of B-flute corrugated board. The result was very satisfying, and took care of all my complaints about the former method.

And now the ties are nice and tight!

I wanted to be able to use the ties with portfolios made of thinner materials like 20 pt. stock, but I knew they would not hold up for long, if at all. A backing would be required.

Then I remembered Tyvek, which is easy to cut and almost impossible to tear. It also works well with PVA.

I put together some sample ties with and without Tyvek backing. The ties backed with Tyvek wouldn’t tear, no matter how hard I pulled. The ties glued directly to the surface of the board tore after the first big yank. I used the new method on an oversize portfolio that required two sets of ties, and the finished product looked as great as it is secure.

The front of the sample. The ties on the left won’t budge.
The back of the sample. Not much Tyvek is needed for an effective backing.

The advantages to this method are that there is less twill tape used per portfolio and the completed enclosure is stronger, more effective, neater in appearance, and more manageable for patrons and staff.

Left: the previous method with 20 pt. stock. Right: the new ties on E-flute corrugated board. 




New Employee News

For this month’s Preservation Lab Blog post, as her supervisor, let me introduce our newest full-time employee, Hannah Helton.

-Doug Sanders, Paper Conservator


20160801_085717Nearly four months ago I was hired as the Paper Conservation Technician for the paper lab. I was a student employee here before, so I expected to settle quickly into the lab’s daily rhythm, but the transition held a few surprises. On my third day as a full-time employee I set off the security alarm, met an IU police officer, handled a Spencer repeating rifle, read the world’s largest newspaper, and cut the tip off my left thumb.

I’m still learning something every day, whether it’s related to conservation methods or the cogs and gears of the IU libraries. I’m also meeting new people all the time, making acquaintances in departments across campus, and building stronger relationships with the people I met as a student employee.

After coming back to the lab, I was very excited to finally see the inside of the ALF vault. I never got a chance to enter it as a student employee, so it held a certain mystery for me. I’ve been there dozens of times now, but the feeling remains. There are a lot of dark aisles in the vault and little shadowed passageways between them, guarded by hundreds of thousands of books resting on shelving units three stories tall, and my imagination likes to run rampant within it.

I also discovered that my background in metalsmithing is very helpful to me here. I’m no longer fixing a solder joint, I’m mending paper. Instead of making vessels out of copper, I’m using corrugate. Even my jeweler’s saw has a place at work; it’s invaluable for cutting curves out of board and Foamcore. On my desk is a metal sculpture I made as a student at IU. Next to it is a cloth-covered box I made out of mat board to hold templates. Both items required very similar techniques to create very different outcomes.

I think that initial week was a personal record in odd accomplishments. I haven’t approached any coworkers with a bloodied hand since day three, but I have handled even more extraordinary objects and mastered my utility knife, so I’d say things are going pretty well for this IU Library employee.