The Printing Workshop – Imagerie d'Épinal

Discover its history and its exceptional skills still in activity

At the end of the 18th century and until 1810, Jean-Charles Pellerin, Master Printer in Épinal, made card games and religious prints. As his work progressed, he abandoned the latter in favour of boards illustrating popular events, a kind of comic strip at the time.

Most of the prints were sold to the population by peddlers. They stopped in the village squares and unpacked their goods. Items included rosaries beads, medals and haberdashery alongside the prints which were very successful. They gave information and illustrated the Napoleonic saga through battle scenes or portraits of the Emperor, his family and generals. When the monarchy returned to power he banned these prints, but they had already conquered the people and ensured for decades the prosperity of the Pellerin production site.

The Power of Print

A source of information, communication and even propaganda, the popular prints made in Épinal constituted the "fourth power" well before the press. Today, the printing workshop – Imagerie d’Épinal is still in activity and you can visit these ancient workrooms, for a trip back in time.

Imagine the activity that prevailed in the 18th century and more precisely since 1796, when everyone was busy carrying out their activities. There were the delivery of stones, then polishing them, as well as the work done by engravers, printers and printing plates cutters. The plates were later used to apply colours to stencils. In order to produce a more standard paper, many mills worked along the rivers, especially near the Moselle River, at the foot of the current printing workshop.

The Colourful Discovery

Discover the preparation of inks, made thanks to pigments diluted in water, which gives most of the shades on paper. They appear more or less visible depending on the shades applied with large brushes called Pochon. This is how they apply a maximum of 9 colours on the aqua- type, ranging from pale yellow to royal blue and red. Here, everything is done by hand. It is difficult to imagine all the necessary steps and even more so today in the digital era...

The printing workshop - Imagerie d’Épinal holds the official French label Entreprise du Patrimonie Vivant issued by the Ministry of Finance and Economy. The latter consists of distinguishing French companies and their craftsmanship. Undoubtedly modern, the printing workshop - Imagerie now offers you a visit with a Histopad®, a touch pad tablet and audio system, which allows you a visit in complete autonomy.