Zuccato’s Papyrograph

Licence purchased by Lloyds to use Zuccato’s Papyrograph, 1875

Licence purchased by Lloyds to use Zuccato’s Papyrograph, 1875

The document featured this month is a licence purchased by Lloyds Bank from Zuccato & Company to use their printing and copying process.  

It was 1875 and Lloyds paid 10 guineas for it.

The technique had been developed a few years earlier by Eugenio de Zuccato, a young Italian studying law in London. It was the first commercially successful stencil duplicating method.

The earliest copying devices were introduced at the end of the 18th century.  They included the letter press, patented in 1780 by James Watt & Co, and carbon paper, developed at the beginning of the 19th century.  Though no longer common-place, carbon paper is still in use today. 

Before then, offices employed clerks to copy documents out by hand - imagine what that would mean today!

Zuccato’s device, known as a papyrograph, soon proved too slow and messy. A number of similar copying processes developed later, including Edison’s electric pen. Most modern photocopiers are based on xerography,  a dry process introduced by Charles Carlson in 1938.

Return to From the Collections to take a look at our other featured items.