Principally known as the inventor of lithography, b. at Prague, 6 Nov., 1771; d. at Munich, 26 February, 1834. His father, an actor at the Royal Theatre of Munich, was playing at Prague at the time of the birth of his son. The young Senefelder studied at Munich, and received a scholarship of 120 florins a year for his diligence, which enabled him to study jurisprudence at Ingolstadt. The death of his father in 1791 forced him to cease his studies in order to help support his mother and a family of eight sisters and brothers. After attempting to become an actor, he took up dramatic writing, at which he was at first fairly successful. Because of difficulty in finding a publisher, he tried to devise means for printing his productions himself, and began a series of experiments with etching and copper-plates until he discovered, in 1796, that Kilheim lime-stone could be used for the purpose. He soon found that etching was not necessary, owing to the fact that grease and water do not mix. By his method the marking is done upon the stone with a greasy composition of soap, wax, and lamp-blark, and then the plate is washed over with water, which soaks into the unmarked parts of the stone. The printing ink is I then applied and | adheres only to the marked places, while the water protects the rest of the plate; a number of impressions can then be obtained. This process he called "chemical" printing. The numerous improvements and developments of the art made by him were rewarded in later years by the gold medal of the "Society of Encouragement" of England, the highest medal of the "Polytechnische Verein fur Baiern", the gold honorary medal of the order for Civilverdienst of the Bavarian Crown, and various other prizes.
In spite of great financial difficulties, continued discouragement, and repeated disappointments, he remained unselfishly devoted to high ideals. In his autobiography (introduction to "Lehrbuch") he expresses the desire that his invention "may bring to mankind manifold benefits and may tend to raise it upon a nobler plane, but may never be misused for an evil purpose. May the Almighty grant this! Then blessed be the hour in which I made my invention!" His principal publication was "Vollstandiges Lehrbuch der Steindruckerei" (Munich and Vienna, 1818). This was translated into French (Paris, 1819), English (London, 1819), and Italian (Naples, 1824).
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online