History of Etching and Etched Metal Plates

BY Rowena Taylor

Etched Metal PlatesSo you finally ordered etched metal plates for your company’s needs. Good call! Did you know that these metal plates actually existed way before you were probably born and that these were actually used for things other than what people use them for today? To help you get a backgrounder on these metal nameplates, here is a little history lesson about etching and etched metal plates.

Etching is said to have been around since the middle ages, and started in Europe, with items such as cups, armor, guns and metal plates being etched for decorative purposes. After this particular use, etching became a medium used for printmaking, rivaling the popularity of a similar marking method, engraving. The difference between the two, in those days anyway, was that for you to be able to create great designs on metal by way of engraving, you needed to be a skilled metal worker, while etching can be done by artists who new almost nothing about marking metal.

It was during the late 1400s when etching became a medium for making prints with. Artists could create amazing images on metal with the use of etching, and these images could be printed on paper and sold as artwork to many people. Some of the plates originally made in those years (made out of iron), which were made by Daniel Hopfer, the person credited for using etched metals for printmaking, actually still exist today.

While etching is indeed a method for marking metal that is to be used for printmaking, these days, such a marking medium is used on metal that is to be used for other things. Although some people do make prints using etched metal plates to this day, most of the plates made with the use of etching is used more for marketing and branding purposes. These plates are often made using metals that are tarnish resistant and are rather abundant.

In the past, etched metal plates are often made using iron and copper, but these days, you will find metals like bronze, brass, stainless steel, and aluminum being used for just such a purpose. These metals are, as mentioned earlier, tarnish and rust resistant, and are rather abundant, making them cheaper to use for the creation of these metal plates.

These metal plates, which are different from the plates being etched and decorated in the past, are used for numerous applications, most of which are for branding and advertising needs. You can now find metal nameplates etched with a company’s name or logo, and painted over (or as the case may be, painted in) for added emphasis. These are then attached to the products that companies are selling, usually on items that are bulky (hence the metal brand tags) or large, such as machinery, appliances, and the like.

You can also find people having metal plates etched to carry images of people or of places that are important in history, or important to the company. These plates are then used to commemorate such great personages or to show people places of importance to the company in what are called commemorative plaques. Whole speeches can also be etched on these metal plates and displayed for all to see in museums, lobbies of office buildings, outside heritage sites and many more.  

Share on Facebook