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History and Know - How

Letter printer's habit (17th century), Collection Benneton

Engraving the mirror image of a design in a hard material to make prints of the design has been practised for millennia, as evidenced by seals found in Upper Egypt. It wasn't until 1565 that a Frenchman, Martin Schongauer raised engraving from a craft to a true art form.
Schongauer, the trailblazer, taught his art to the German master, Albrecht Dürer, and was even admired by Michelangelo. He left 115 burin-work copperplates.

Hand press in a Workshop  (18th century), Collection Benneton

 His disciple, Dürer, did most of his engraving on wood and some on metal (early 16th century). After that, some of Europe's greatest artists perpetuated the art, and improved on it as new technologies appeared.
Europe's greatest engravers in the 17th century were Jacques Callot, and Rembrandt, in the 18th, Fragonnard and Goya and in the 19th century, Gustave Doré, and more recently Picasso (with his renowned scenes of bullfights).
The most renowned contemporary engravers include Alechinsky and the Catalan Tapies.

By the early 19th century, the emergence of a Bourgeois class, a taste for fine craftsmanship and an intense social life created the need for "Job Printing," i.e., paper products (personal announcements, calling cards, greeting cards, stationery products, etc) so necessary to high society. They were made from hand engraved tools and dies by master artisans.
In 1880, Emile Benneton, a French carver and engraver set up shop in Paris and founded the Benneton House in the Madeleine church quarter.


Making of enveloppes, hand displaying of tissue liningSteel engraving burin


Benneton's taste for beautiful things and his love of delicate workmanship made him a success, and soon he was supplying products by appointment to the courts of many European countries. The intellectual and artistic elite were frequent visitors to the House on Boulevard Malesherbes.
Since then, the company, which has always remained in Benneton family hands, has been able to preserve its heritage of savoir-faire and still supplies a discerning and elegant clientele the world over with the same carefully crafted engravings, with the same taste in the choice of colors and papers, and always, the same quest for elegance and detail.


Engraver's toolsEngraving on copper

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