The Nebitype, the Typesetter from Hell.

The Year was 1968. I was completing my composing apprenticeship with the Griffin Press, Marion Road, Netley. My foreman was Alf Freeman, a bald Englishman who had come from England to originally work at the Government Printing Office. Alf had left after a couple of years for the Griffin. There I met Nick Penn, Colin […]

The Printer’s Point System.

We use the term ‘point’ today without worrying just how big it is. We all know that a point is roughly 1/72nd of an inch, but at the turn of the century the point was anything but standard. I look here at just how big a point is and how we arrived at this figure. […]

The Anatomy of Metal Type.

A term not labelled on this diagram is the kern, the part of the face which extends over the side of the type body and rests on the shoulder of the type next to it, or on a special, high piece of spacing material. Kerns are often found on the letters f and j, among […]

The Impact of Printing on Religion c.1600.

Samuel Hartlib, (pictured above) who was exiled in Britain and enthusiastic about social and cultural reforms, wrote in 1641 that “the art of printing will so spread knowledge that the common people, knowing their own rights and liberties, will not be governed by way of oppression”. For both churchmen and governments, it was concerning that […]

The Lanston Monotype, circa 1890.

This old-style description of  The Tolbert Lanston Monotype invention is from “The Advertiser,” Adelaide, South Australia. circa 1900. The age of miracles has not, as some would have us believe, gone by. The discoveries of science, the wonders of invention, are as astonishing in their way as any of the marvels dreamed of by men […]

Chinese Printing.

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 […]

Women in Japanese Bookbinding.

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, […]

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 […]

The Glory Days of Letterpress.

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. Above: One of my absolute pet hates was your […]

The Thompson Type Caster, 1908-1967.

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 […]