Birth of Moveable Type, Mainz.

Mainz, from the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493). JRL R1786.
Mainz is situated at the meeting point of the rivers Rhine and Main, and in the Middle Ages was among the wealthiest cities in the Rhine valley.
In a period when road networks were poor and in some areas non-existent, rivers provided safer and easier links between cities; the Rhine was a primary trade route through Europe.
Mainz became the seat of the archbishop, who played a key religious and political role in the region. A prosperous court grew up around the archbishopric, attracting merchants and craftsmen to the city.
The goldsmiths’ guild was of particular importance, with wealthy local cloth merchants their principal clients.
Johann Gutenberg was born in Mainz around 1399.
Little is known of Gutenberg’s father but he was a tradesman or merchant, possibly involved in the cloth trade, and his son grew up surrounded by both craft and commerce.
However, the potentially life-threatening political disputes at court drove the family away from the city.
After working in other local towns and cities, Johann Gutenberg returned to Mainz in 1448 to experiment with his new printing business, a venture that was to have such an impact on many aspects of life and thinking in our World.
via First Impressions | Mainz.

Journeyman’s Certificate, 1791.

apprentice certificate3-thumb-450x368-20135

Bremen: Ernsting, 1791 Engraved broadside. Graphic Arts Collection.
A panoramic view of the city of Bremen tops this journeyman’s certificate.
It is inscribed for twenty-five year old Johann Hingstmann (born 1773), who has completed his twelve year apprenticeship to reach the level of journeyman.
Hingstmann now has the right to charge a fee for his own work.
To reach the highest level of master craftsman, he will have to submit an example of his work to a particular guild for evaluation and hopefully, be admitted to the guild as a master.
The certificate is engraved by Daniel Albert (Albrecht) Ernsting (1749-1820), who was himself an apprentice to a Bremen printer. Ernsting then studied in Göttingen and Copenhagen before returning to Bremen and opening a shop.
His name is found engraved on portraits, business cards, playing cards, and of course certificates.
via Graphic Arts: Ephemera Archives.


typotecture1I have wondered for a long while about what to call these architectonic constructions made up from letterpress type elements, and have asked quite a few people if they knew a name for it.
To date, the only solid response was from fine letterpress printer John Kristensen of the Firefly Press in Boston, who refers to them as “typotecture”.
Seems like a perfect appellation to me . . .
See more via Typotecture | Sheaff : ephemera.

Letterpress Bronzing.

Kolbach Bronzing MachineBy far the greater bulk of let­ter­press work in gold is pro­duced by bronz­ing, and the res­ults obtained by this method are excel­lent.
The pro­cess involves, first, print­ing the sheet in a tacky medium such as bronze pre­par­a­tion and then dust­ing it with bronze powder which adheres to the pre­par­a­tion.
It is then lightly burn­ished to smooth and brighten the bronze and then the loose bronze is cleaned off the sheet.
Small work can be bronzed by hand, but the work must be car­ried out under vacuum.
Bronz­ing machines have been avail­able for a period of years.
During the 1960s  if you did any bronzing whatsoever you had to drink a pint of milk a day (paid for by the Boss).
What the milk had in it to neutralise any bronze powder in the air I will never know.
Then in the early 1970s some bright spark said we would have to start drinking a bottle of Coca Cola a day.
Now that did make me feel worse.
via Gold Ink, Bronzing and Foil Printing | British Letterpress.

‘The Gawler Bunyip.’


The Bunyip Newspaper (circa 1905-1910).
The Bunyip was first published in 1863. E H Coombe in his History of Gawler 1837-1908 claimed that it was the first provincial newspaper in South Australia.
It was a collaboration between William Barnet, manager and printer, and the Humbug Society with George Nott as the first editor.
The first issue was full of biting satire and tongue-in-cheek commentary and it sold out as soon as it was published. Originally appearing as a monthly pamphlet, it became so popular that is was not long before it was published as a bi-monthly broadsheet and then a year or so later as a weekly publication.
Why was it called The Bunyip?
In the first edition which was published on 5 September 1863, the following explanation was given: “Because the Bunyip is the true type of Australian Humbug! Go where you will in Australia, the poor benighted blackfellow, if he wished to astonish you with unheard marvels, or strike you with supreme terror raises before you the shadow of the mysterious Bunyip – ever near – ever promising to appear – but ever eluding sight and grasp – true type of Humbug!”
With the passage of time, The Bunyip became less satirical and more of an orthodox newspaper which reported on events and opinions but initially it was solely a vehicle of the satire and wit which were the trademark of the Humbug Society.
As a result of the publication of material which Dr William Popham claimed made him the subject of contempt and ridicule, the owner was threatened with an action for libel.
A full account of the Popham V. Barnet” court hearing, which was described as “vastly entertaining”, can be read in The Bunyip of Saturday April 2, 1864.
Read on further via “The Bunyip” newspaper – Gawler.

William Blades, Typographer.

Images by Ellis & Co, Sutton (Photograph) & Walker and Boutall (Engraving). Source: Catalogue of the William Blades Library (1899)
William Blades (5 December 1824 – 27 April 1890), English printer and bibliographer, was born at Clapham, London.
In 1840 he was apprenticed to his father’s printing business in London, being subsequently taken into partnership.
The firm was afterwards known as Blades, East & Blades. His interest in printing led him to make a study of the volumes produced by Caxton’s press, and of the early history of printing in England.
His Life and Typography of William Caxton, England’s First Printer, was published in 1861-1863, and the conclusions which he set forth were arrived at by a careful examination of types in the early books, each class of type being traced from its first use to the time when, spoilt by wear, it passed out of Caxton’s hands.
Some 450 volumes from the Caxton Press were thus carefully compared and classified in chronological order.
Pentateuch of Printing with a Chapter on Judges (1891)
In 1877 Blades took an active part in organizing the Caxton celebration, and strongly supported the foundation of the Library Association.
He was a keen collector of old books, prints and medals. His publications relate chiefly to the early history of printing, the Enemies of Books, his most popular work, being produced in 1880.
On his death, his library was acquired by the St Bride Foundation as the initial collection of the library.
He died at Sutton in Surrey on 27 April 1890.
via William Blades – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.