Chinese Printing.

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Mr Chang’s word-making shop still makes Chinese characters out of lead.
The movable-type printing system invented around 1040 AD helped to revolutionise the world by making books and other written material easily available.
It is one of the most important inventions of mankind, increasing literacy and allowing money to be printed.
But few people in the world still make the characters for such printing presses, even in China, where the system was invented.
In Taiwan, however, a man has devoted his life to this dying profession, making words the traditional way, one character at a time.
Chang Chieh-kuan, 59, operates the last word-making shop in Taiwan, making Chinese characters out of lead.
His shop is believed to be one of only a handful in the world.
With 120,000 moulds of different characters and more than 10 million lead character pieces, it has perhaps the largest reservoir of three-dimensional Chinese characters.
Mr Chang now wants to turn the shop into an interactive museum.
If he succeeds, it will be a rare place to see this great ancient invention in operation.
Read on via BBC News – Preserving traditional Chinese printing.

Women in Japanese Bookbinding.

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1690: NAKAMURA Tekisai. KINMO ZU-I 14 vols in 5.
During the Tokugawa period, the process for producing a book was a collaboration of artists and craftsmen and women. First the text would be given to the copyist, or hanshitagaki (the copy was called the hanshita).
The copied text would be given to the block carver, horishi. The carved block would be passed to the printer – surishi – and after printing to another worker for page alignment. The maker of covers was the hyoshiya.
Book covers would be paper with thick backing; from about the 17th century onward, design became an important part of commercialization and marketing.
By early Meiji the covers were stiffer, made of cardboard. The printed pages and covers would be passed to a binder who sewed them together.
Then the completed work (with printed protective paper wrappers, beginning in the second half of Tokugawa) would be sent to the bookseller.
In the Tokugawa period, book covers began to evolve from simple undecorated colored paper to more artistic design work.
Sometimes the color of the cover would be based on content. In Edo in the 18th century it was common for lighter genres of fiction to have different color covers, the genre names derived from the color: akahon “red books” and kibyoshi “yellow covers.”vi In the seventeenth century, literary works began to regularly include illustrations; artists were named in colophons.
Book cover designs became more elaborate, with embossed or burnished paper designs, and later color woodblock prints from popular ukiyo-e artists. In the 19th century, lavish color woodblock covers were made for the elaborately designed illustrated popular fiction books called gōkan.vii
With larger firms, all the book trade craftspeople would work together in-house – “but smaller-scale publishers contracted some parts of the process out to sub-contracting specialists like block-carvers and binders, and cover-makers ran their own separate firms from the early seventeenth century onwards.”
Bookbinders did not get credit like publishers/booksellers, artists or designers. Sometimes copyists and block carvers were named in colophon, but rarely binders.
Women worked as binders during the Tokugawa period. Peter Kornicki, in The book in Japan: a cultural history from the beginnings to the nineteenth century, says: “… although the whole process of production and distribution of books is commonly presented as if it were exclusively male, this picture needs some correction … it seems that bookbinding was often undertaken, at least in 19th century, by women in the publisher’s household, and there is a record in a book published in 1716 to the effect that copyist responsible for the clean copy or hanshita was a woman.
Here are some illustrations of different styles of book covers:
KAISHIEN
1753: Wang Kai, et al. KAISHIEN GADEN.
Kotowaza
1850: Utagawa YOSHIUME. Kotowaza HESO NO YADOGAE.
Read the full article via Japanese Bookbinding | The American Bookbinders Museum.

Alois Senefelder, Father of Lithography.

Johann Alois Senefelder (6 November 1771 – 26 February 1834) was a German actor and playwright who invented the printing technique of lithography in 1796.
Born Aloys Johann Nepomuk Franz Senefelder in Prague, then Imperial city (Reichsstadt) of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, where his actor father was appearing on stage. He was educated in Munich and won a scholarship to study law at Ingolstadt.
The death of his father in 1791 forced him to leave his studies to support his mother and eight siblings, and he became an actor and wrote a successful play Connoisseur of Girls.
Problems with the printing of his play Mathilde von Altenstein caused him to fall into debt, and unable to afford to publish a new play he had written, Senefelder experimented with a novel etching technique using a greasy, acid resistant ink as a resist on a smooth fine-grained stone of Solnhofen limestone.
He then discovered that this could be extended to allow printing from the flat surface of the stone alone, the first planographic process in printing. He joined with the André family of music publishers and gradually brought his technique into a workable form, perfecting both the chemical processes and the special form of printing press required for using the stones.
He called it “stone printing” or “chemical printing”, but the French name “lithography” became more widely adopted. And with the composer Franz Gleißner he started a publishing firm in 1796 using lithography.
The value of the new cheap and exact reproduction process was recognized early by land surveying offices across Europe. Senefelder was appointed 1809 to be the Inspector of a new Institution set up for this purpose in Bavaria called the “Lithographic Institute” in Munich.
Similar Institutions were subsequently set up under his supervision in Berlin, Paris, London and Vienna.
He secured patent rights across Europe and publicized his findings in 1818 in Vollstandiges Lehrbuch der Steindruckerei which was translated in 1819 into French and English.
A Complete Course of Lithography combined Senefelder’s history of his own invention with a practical guide to lithography, and remained in print as recently as 1977 (Da Capo Press).
Senefelder was also able to exploit the potential of lithography as a medium for art. Unlike previous printmaking techniques, such as engraving, that required advanced craft skills, lithography facilitated greater accuracy and textual variety, because the artist could now draw directly onto the plate with familiar pens.
As early as 1803 André published in London a portfolio of artists lithographs, entitled Specimens of Polyautography.
In 1837, lithography had been further developed to allow full colour printing from multiple plates, and chromolithography was the most important technique in colour printing until the introduction of process colour.
Source: Alois Senefelder – Wikipedia

The Glory Days of Letterpress.

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The picture above is of a small shop and the owner in Newport, United States.
The wondrous days of letterpress magic and it worked. Inky, greasy, frustrating hot metal I loved it. We all did.
When you walked through the door you knew you were home.
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Above: One of my absolute pet hates was your leading hand, clicker or foreman hanging over your shoulder giving you absolutely annoying and crappy advice.
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Above: And finally, the Toowoomba Chronicle, Aussie east coast provincial newspaper, in the late 1880s.
Note that the lads always had their photos taken dressed up looking like Toffs.

The Thompson Type Caster, 1908-1967.

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The Thompson Type Caster could in many ways be considered a transition machine, sitting between foundry machines like the Barth casters that were used by the American Type Founders Company (ATF), and machines that were intended for casting slugs (Linotype, Intertype and Ludlow) or composed type (Monotype) for printing office use.
The Thompson was invented in 1908 by John S. Thompson. It is a sorts caster, casting multiple types of the same size, letter and style. With attachments and adjustments it is also capable of casting quads, spaces, borders, leads, slugs and rules.
As originally designed, the machine utilized Linotype matrices, but the geometry of the machine is such that it is very versatile. With the proper mat holders and moulds, the Thompson can cast type from virtually any matrix, including foundry martices.
Type sizes ranged from 5–48 point. In 1929, The Monotype Corporation bought the Thompson Machine Company. They continued to build and sell the machine until 1967.
In the day, the Thompson was sold to printers—ATF used the high pressure, high temperature Barth machines to cast type to “foundry” specifications. Today, the Thompson is being used much like the Barth casters once were, and forms the core equipment of several operating foundries.
via Thompson Type Caster | Letterpress Commons.

Early Printing in St Albans, circa 1479.

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Hand-coloured woodcut in a vellum copy of Wynkyn de Worde’s Book of Hawking, Hunting, and Heraldry (Westminster: Wynkyn de Worde, 1496), g3v.
In the background is Sopwell Priory, a cell of St Albans Abbey, where Juliana Berners was prioress. JRL 19668.
The small market town of St Albans in Hertfordshire, 25 miles north of London, was the site of the premier Benedictine house in the British Isles during the Middle Ages.
The Abbey of St Albans supported numerous trades, especially those involved in the town’s main industry, the manufacture of woollen cloth.
There was a weekly market and three annual fairs, which attracted buyers and sellers from all over Hertfordshire and from London.
The Abbey’s prosperity and importance led to the establishment of a printing press in the buildings of the Abbey’s gatehouse in c.1479, making it the only religious house in pre-Reformation England to run an independent printing establishment.
For further Information, click link
http://goo.gl/mRXQwf
via First Impressions | St Albans.