Tuesday, August 23, 2011
This would have actually made a good mystery person contest. The man pictured is Alfred Waud. He was a war illustrator for Harper's Weekly during the Civil War. Illustrators like Waud, Nast, and Homer were deployed to battle locations, and they would sketch the battles. The sketches were then sent back to New York to be printed in the Harper's Weekly newspaper. The sketches were printed by carving them onto wood blocks. Since time is of the essence in the news business, the problem is that it would take a long time for a single person to carve a sketch onto a large block of wood. So, the block of wood and the sketch were cut into two inch squares, and a different carver would carve each of the two inch segments of the drawing onto a separate small block of wood. This way, many people were working in parallel on the carving. Then the two inch blocks were screwed together, and you had one large block which could be used to "stamp" the image into the newspaper.
Waud was at the battle of Gettysburg, and below we present one of his drawings which appeared in Harper's Weekly using the process described above.