The mezzotint is a type of intaglio print. The mezzotint technique of printmaking was invented in the mid-1600s and was originally used to make portraits and reproductions of paintings until the invention of photography and lithography replaced mezzotint for reproductions.
To make a mezzotint, a metal plate is covered with burrs until it prints a rich, velvety black. This is usually done with a tool called a rocker. The plate is then worked back toward the lighter values with burnishers and scrapers. It is an entirely mechanical process, using no chemicals.
Once the plate work is finished, the editioning begins. For each print in the edition, the plate is inked and wiped by hand then run through a press under tremendous pressure onto dampened paper. Each print is marked (in a fraction format, i.e. 2/15 = 2 of an edition of 15) as to which number in the edition it is.
Mezzotints are usually produced in smaller editions since the plate will break down with excessive printing.