Louis Lafon

Louis Lafon (active 1870s), Marinoni Printing Press. Albumen silver print from wet collodion negative, 14-1/4 x 18-1/4 in. (362 x 464 mm), ca. 1880.

Very little is known today about the French photographer Louis Lafon. According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, “He was based in Paris, photographed primarily industrial subjects, and won a medal for his submissions to the 1874 exhibition of the Société Française de Photographie.” The name does not appear in the standard biographies but a group of his prints is making their way into collections around the country and it will not be long before he is better understood.

Lafon made this mammoth photograph of one of Hippolyte Marinoni’s printing presses, also known as Presse Universelle. High speed, continuous paper printing on machines like this revolutionized the printing industry in the nineteenth century. A nice description of rotary printing can be found at http://chestofbooks.com/crafts/scientific-american/sup3/Marinoni-s-Rotary-Printing-Press.html.

If you want to see the press in action, there is a YouTube video of a Marinoni press similar to Lafon’s photograph at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRjoOTFKZDw.