A facsimile replica of rare print works as well as manuscripts, graphical representations or similar things is described as facsimile. This is generally the original copy of a template. A good facsimile is thus not optically distinguishable from the respective original, and it balances in the state of preservation, color and size, whereby aging phenomena or also usage traces are taken into account. The facsimile output of a work thus gives the impression that it is the original. In the past, such imitations were mainly produced by copper engravings, woodcuts, or breaks. Today, a photomechanical reproduction is mostly produced, the so-called light pressure providing the best results.
The term is derived from the Latin word sequence “fac simile”, which can be translated similarly. Consequently, the translation of the word already refers to the fundamental point: namely, a reproduction of an original, which is similar to the original, and is usually not to be distinguished from the original.
According to this, the noun consists of the Latin verb facere (dt .: make) and the Latin adjective similis (dt .: similar). The term, however, has only been used since the nineteenth century, but the word “reprint” was more common. Nowadays, however, the emphasis is mostly on a work which only reproduces the text in the original way, but varies in its layout. This is not a facsimile.
Use of facsimiles
In libraries, archives or even private collections, the originals of valuable writings are preserved as well as rare manuscripts or also printing works. However, these are in most cases not freely accessible or can only be extensively examined in special cases.
As a result, facsimiles offer the possibility to make individual works available to the general public as well as to research, without jeopardizing the state of the original work. This also applies to works that have been lost or works of art and (hand-) writings that are too valuable to be publicly displayed or made accessible. Here too, facsimile editions open up the possibility of making the work available as a reproduction and thus making it possible to consume it.
There are even publishers who have specialized exclusively in the reproduction of works – often facsimiles of medieval manuscripts (cf literaturepochen) – and try to create as close as possible to the original. Sometimes even old craftsmanship and old printing techniques are used, so that such imitations appear partly deceptively genuine. Of course, in the reproduction, but also modern photo- and scantechnik are used.
Thus facsimiles, if made with great effort and numerous details, can also be regarded as independent art objects and should not be dismissed in any case as a simple reproduction. In most cases, these works are also provided with additional explanations or comments, which provide further information on the production and the original.
Facsimiles and postage stamps
In postage stamps, also philately, private replicas of stamps are called facsimiles. However, this is not a question of making a copy as genuine as possible, but merely a similar work, which is to be distinguished from the original.
This distinction is essential here, since otherwise it would be an illegal counterfeiting of the original stamp. What is crucial is that the simple identification that it is a reproduction is not sufficient. As a result, the reproduction must differ in terms of stationery, perforation, printing or color.
Sometimes stamps are also reprinted on behalf of the state. In the philately, however, one speaks of an emphasis. If this reproduction is printed with the original printing plate or the original printing plates, which were also used in the original, this is called the reprint.
Reproductions of stamps are also called facsimiles.
Reproductions of rare stamps from Guatemala. The facsimile is prominent on the front.
Short overview: The most important part of the term at a glance
A facsimile replica of very rare printers as well as manuscripts, graphical representations or similar things is described as facsimile. This is generally the original copy of a template.
Such reproductions are mostly made to make originals – whether too valuable, lost or unique – accessible to a larger number of people. Whether for private use or for research purposes.
The term is also used in the marketing of postage stamps. Here, however, he does not mean a true-to-the-original copy, but only a stamp that is similar to the original mark. In this case, an imitation replica would be regarded as an illegal counterfeit.