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Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Printer (publishing)

Wooden blocks were first developed for printing in 8th century China and Korea. Whole pages carved on flat wooden blocks were used. Covered with a carbon-based ink, they were pressed onto sheets of paper.

Woodblock printing, Sera Monastery, Tibet. By John Hill - Wikipedia

The earliest known printed book is Chinese dating from 868. It is a copy of the Buddhist Diamond Sutra, which was produced using carved wooden blocks to print the text on paper.

The second stage was to use separate characters by wood carving or casting. About 1041-48 a Chinese alchemist named Pi Sheng appears to have conceived a method of movable type made of an amalgam of clay and glue hardened by baking. He composed texts by placing the types side by side on an iron plate coated with a mixture of resin, wax, and paper ash. Gently heating this plate and then letting the plate cool solidified the type. Once the impression had been made, the type could be detached by reheating the plate. It would thus appear that Pi Sheng had found an overall solution to the many problems of typography: the manufacture, the assembling, and the recovery of indefinitely reusable type.

This system of moveable type failed to be really successful, because of the structure of the Chinese written language, shared at the time by Korea, which had thousands of characters. Because of this, the method was not significantly better than copying by scribes


In about 1313 a magistrate named Wang Chen had a craftsman carve more than 60,000 characters on movable wooden blocks so that a treatise on the history of technology could be published.

To Wang Chen is also attributed the invention of horizontal compartmented cases that revolved about a vertical axis to permit easier handling of the type. But Wang Chen's innovation, like that of Pi Sheng, was not followed up in China.

Printing was reinvented in 15th century Europe when Johann Gutenberg, a German goldsmith and printer developed a new revolutionary printing process. The German pioneer's new printing method allowed type to made by pouring molten metal into punch stamped molds, thereby creating a never ending supply of letters. Before, producing type had involved many onerous hours of carving each page as a separate woodcut.

In 1454 Gutenberg used the revolutionary system to print 300 Bibles, of which 48 copies survive, each worth millions of dollars or pounds.

Before Gutenberg started upon his printing press, there were about 30,000 books in Europe.

The black-letter style originated from when printing developed in Germany in the 1450s and therefore became the type face used for the earliest European printed books, such as Gutenberg's Bible. Angular letters of this kind remain the normal convention in German books until the early 20th century.
Early wooden printing press, depicted in 1568.
An early pioneer was Albrecht Pfister, a printer in Bamberg, who published several illustrated books beginning with The Farmer of Bohemia in about 1461.

In 1476 William Caxton (ca. 1415~1422 – 1492) set up a printing press at Westminster.  He is thought to be the first English person to work as a printer and the first to introduce a printing press into England.

By the end of the 15th century ambitious publications such as the Nuremberg Chronicle (a 1493 history of the world) had page layouts as elaborate as any modern magazine.

In 1584 Antonio Ricardo became the first printer in South America with the publication of the Doctrina Christiana, a book in Spanish, Quechua and Aymara.

Robert Barker, the King's Printer, made the first printing of the Authorized King James Version of the Bible on May 2, 1611.

The royal printers in London were stripped of their licence and fined £300 (about £40,000 $55,000 in today’s money) by Charles I after their 1631 reprint of the King James Bible listed the seventh commandment as "Thou shalt commit adultery". The majority of copies of what became known as the Sinners’ Bible or Wicked Bible were immediately burned

The typographical error

In the 1700s, a "stereotype" was a printing method—in the 1800s, the term came to mean "an image perpetuated without change."

At the age of 12 Benjamin Franklin became an apprentice to his stepbrother James, a printer, who taught him the printing trade.

Franklin later worked as a typesetter in a printer's shop in what is now the Church of St Bartholomew-the-Great in the Smithfield area of London.

In 1813, a British manufacturer of printing presses, Harrild & Sons, helped establish the use in London of composition rollers instead of ink balls to ink the printing plates.

Samuel Rust of New York City patented the first practical printing press built in the U.S. in 1832.

George Baxter (1804–1867) was an English artist and printer based in London. He is credited with the invention of commercially viable color printing. In 1835 Baxter was granted Patent No. 6916 – Improvements in Producing Coloured Steel Plate, Copper Plate and other Impressions, which outlined the combined intaglio and relief process he would continue to use for the next thirty years.

George Baxter's view of the New York Crystal Palace published in 1853

Despite his technical excellence and the general popularity of his prints, Baxter’s business was never profitable – his process was laborious and it seems likely that his perfectionism prevented him from completing many of his commissioned works on time.

Encyclopaedia Britannica, History World

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