The Invention of Lithography.

Scientific American 12, 20.3.1869

The impatience of a German washerwoman led to the invention of lithography. The history of that elegant art begins with a homely domestic scene, which occurred at Munich about the year 1793, and in which three characters figured, — Madame Senefelder, the poor widow of an excellent actor, then recently deceased; her son, Alois Senefelder, aged twenty-two, a young man of an inventive turn; and the impatient washerwoman just mentioned. The washerwoman had called at the home of this widow for the weekly "wash;" but the "list" was not ready, and the widow asked her son to take it. He looked about the room for a piece of paper upon which to write it, without being able to find the least fragment, and he noticed also that his ink was dry. Washerwomen are not apt to be overawed by such customers, and this one certainly did not conceal her impatience while the fruitless search was proceeding. The young man had in the apartment a smooth, soft, cream-colored stone, such as lithographers now use. He had also a mass of paste made of lampblack, wax, soap, and water. In the hurry of the moment, he dashed upon the soft, smooth stone the short list of garments, using for the purpose this awkward lump of oily paste. The washerwoman went off with her small bundle of clothes, peace was restored to the family, and the writing on the stone remained.

James Parton in the Atlantic Monthly.

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