The production of satirical prints was often the work of many hands rather than a single artist-engraver. In some instances a finished print may have been derived from an original drawing or painting by one person, engraved by a second and printed by a third, with a fourth person providing the funding required to make all this happen. All of these people could legitimately have expected to have their names added to the finished print in order to advertise their services and to ward of the threat of potential pirate editions being published by rivals.
The need to add several names to the same plate meant that a system of labeling was required in order to make it clear who was responsible for what. This fairly typical example of Isaac Cruikshank’s work from 1790 for example, is marked with the signatures ‘Isaac delin’, ‘Jacobs fecit’ and that of S.W. Fores in the publication line. ‘Delin’ is an abbrevation of the latin term delineavit which (roughly) translates as ‘drew the lines’, while ‘fecit’ is also the latin for ‘made’. So we know that Jacob’s engraved the plate using a drawing that had been supplied by Isaac Cruikshank and that Fores paid for it all.
Unfortunately the use of these marks was never standardised or enforced in the way that hallmarking was on metalwork. This means that the terms employed can vary depending on a print’s age, country of origin and the whims of its creators. Fortunately for the historian of print the good people at Virtuelles Kupferstichkabinett (Virtual Printroom) have drawn up a comprehensive guide to European print-markings used used between the late medieval period and the mid-nineteenth century. As you can imagine, it is far too long to reproduce here but I highly recommend that you click on the link HERE and save a copy for future use.