decal (n.)

"picture transferred from a specially prepared paper to some other surface," by 1909, shortening of decalcomania (1864), from French décalcomanie, from décalquer (18c.) "transferring of a tracing from specially prepared paper to glass, porcelain, etc." (in vogue in France 1840s, England 1862-64), from de- "off" (see de-) + calquer "to press," from Italian calcare, from Latin calcare "to tread on, press," from calx (1) "heel" (see calcaneus).

Time was when there were only printers employed in making the sheets that were stuck on the ware, giving the old-time term of "plain print." This form of decoration was succeeded a few years ago by the decalcomania or "decal." This "decal" is an imported sheet, lithographed, and the little sprigs, flowers and scenes are cut out and stuck on the ware. [Brick, the Leading Clay Journal, April 1909]

updated on August 18, 2020