We know that in the 19th century in the production of a book with illustrations, letterpress where the printing ink was transferred by the high points of the type and engraving where the ink was transferred from incisions in the printing plate, these two processes were completed by separate, specialist printers.
We also know that the finished product was stocked by booksellers who were also trading as libraries. Some guidebooks were produced with very few illustrations and the reader was dependent for local views on pictures supplied by the separate printer of engravings to the bookseller and by one such specialist, Rock and Co.
The London publisher Rock & Co. was founded by William Frederick Rock (1801-1890).
In the second quarter of the 19th century, Rock had gone into business with Thomas de la Rue and this was to last until around 1833 when Rock had made enough money to set up a printing business with his brothers and future brother-in-law.
De la Rue is today an internationally recognised firm of bank note and postage stamp printers still specialising in engraving techniques.
By the middle of the 19th century prominence as a prolific publisher of steel engraved vignette images, producing views for a large number of other localities, not just Hastings and St Leonards.
These illustrations were published in the form of cards, fancy stationery, and books and booklets and the were usually numbered and dated within the border of the engraving.
Production of books of steel line-engraved vignettes was to endure until about 1880, to be replaced by a newer technology and for a while Rock & Co published albums using the “leporello” process which will be discussed in a future edition.
Rock retired in 1884 and died in 1890 when his collections were bequeathed to the North Devon Athenæum.