Screen Printing Through the Ages - The Formative Years
Perhaps the most important historical development of the screen printing process was made in the late 1880s in both America and the UK, using similar principles but going by different names. This took the process of screen printing further, by using wax paper handwriting stencils patented in 1877, but were then fixed into a frame, so that the ink could then be forced through them by using a rubber squeegee. The use of a frame with these delicate stencils was called the Cyclostyle in the UK, and the Mimeograph in the USA, and used a fine and porous waxed paper called Yoshino.
Although a successful idea, the handwriting stencils themselves were extremely delicate, so much so that they had to be sandwiched between a sheet of muslin and a gauze to protect them, but still make them usable. By 1890 the UK's Cyclostyle, invented by David Gestetner, was now in use under the name of the Neo Cyclostyle, this time supplied with a hinged silk covered frame allowing the stencil to be supported as the ink was roller-printed through it—much the same as we are familiar with today.
It wasn't until 1907 in Manchester, England, that the first patent for the screen printing process was granted though. Samuel Simon's patented process used a screen using "chiffon" rather than the original silk, and the use of what he called "knotting" (shellac) to block out the relevant areas. And it is here, where screen printing really takes off in terms of popularity.