Intaglio is a printing technique in which the image is incised into a surface. Normally, copper or zinc plates are used, and the incisions are created by etching or engraving the image, but one may also use mezzotint. In printing, the surface is covered in ink, and then rubbed vigorously with tarlatan cloth or newspaper to remove the ink from the surface, leaving it in the incisions. A damp piece of paper is placed on top, and the plate and paper are run through a printing press that, through pressure, transfers the ink to the paper.
The term is sometimes also used for engraved seals, which leave a raised design when pressed on to the material to be stamped, and is an Italian word that means the activity of carving (mainly) wood for decorative purposes (i.e., in furniture).
Contrast with relief print techniques.
Intaglio printing is frequently used in the production of currency as an anti counterfeiting measure. The United States sold the Shah of Iran the only intaglio press outside of the United States similar to the ones used by the Treasury department to print US notes. It has since fallen into the wrong hands (at least from the point of view of the treasury department) and has led to the necessity to redesign modern US notes.