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Canadian Illustrated News:
Images in the news: 1869-1883

The First Half-Tones

"The imagination is so closely linked to the perceptive faculties, that the speediest and surest way of reaching the mind and impressing thereon facts and objects, is to lay them vividly before the eye (the main feeder of the imagination) either in their reality, or in the drama, or even through their image painted or engraved."

George Edward Desbarats
Proprieter and Publisher
Canadian Illustrated News

The Canadian Illustrated News was the first magazine in the world to produce photographs at a consistently successful rate. Many inventors sought this rate of production, but none could match the level of performance achieved by George Desbarats and his engraver, William Leggo. Desbarats had the financial means and business sense, while Leggo was the mastermind behind this new innovation, known as photo-engraving. This chemical process involved the development of relief engravings, or half-tones, from photographs. The first half-tone produced by the Canadian Illustrated News was of His Royal Highness Prince Arthur. It attracted much attention after its appearance in the first issue of the magazine on October 30, 1869. This was only one of over 15,000 half-tones produced by the Canadian Illustrated News in its illustrious 14 years.