Pictured: Johannes Gutenberg, Germany.
Here are some old and enduring Technical terms relating to early books and printing.
Black-letter: A name (which came into use around 1600) for the form of type Gothic used by early printers, as distinguished from the ‘Roman’ type, which later prevailed.
Blockbook: A book in which each page was printed from a single block of wood, onto which both text and images were carved in reverse. Although it is often thought that blockbooks preceded the invention of printing from movable metal type, most surviving examples date from the period 1460 to 1480.
Breviary: A book containing the texts used to celebrate Divine Office each day by members of monastic orders and clergy, consisting of Psalms, Collects, and readings from Scripture and the lives of the Saints.
Catchword: A word printed at the end of a quire (a section of folded pages in order) to indicate the first word of the next page; if the catchword does not tally with the first word, this suggests that a leaf is missing, or that the quires have been bound in the wrong order.
Chase: A rectangular metal frame into which a forme, or body of type is locked, using wedges or quoins, ready for printing.
Colophon: A statement at the end of a book containing some or all of the following: name of the work, author, printer, place of printing, date. It is sometimes accompanied by a printer’s device or mark. This information was later carried on the title page.
Compositor: A person who sets, corrects and distributes type.
Pressman: The work of a person operating a hand-press.
Distributing type: Returning the individual sorts to their cases, after they have been printed. Often shortened to ‘dissing’.
Forme: The forme is the body of type, locked by the compositor into a frame called a chase, ready for printing.
Font: A complete set of upper- and lower-case letters, figures, punctuation marks and symbols, cast in one size and typeface. Typically a font would contain sufficient type to enable a printer to set several pages at one time.
Galley A three-sided shallow metal tray onto which type is transferred from a composing-stick for holding composed matter before it is split up into pages.
Galley proofs are proofs on long sheets of paper, of composed matter before it is made up into page.
Source: First Impressions | Glossary
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 print allowed readers, eventually including those from all classes of society, to study religious texts and politically sensitive issues by themselves, instead of thinking mediated by the religious and political authorities.
It took a long long time for print to penetrate Russia and the Orthodox Christian world, a region (including modern Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria) where reading ability was largely restricted to the clergy.
In 1564, a White Russian brought a press to Moscow, and soon after that his workshop was destroyed by a mob.
In the Muslim world, printing, especially in Arabic or Turkish was strongly opposed throughout the early modern period (printing in Hebrew was sometimes permitted).
Indeed, the Muslim countries have been regarded as a barrier to the passage of printing from China to the West.
According to an imperial ambassador to Istanbul in the middle of the sixteenth century, it was a sin for the Turks to print religious books.
In 1515, Sultan Selim I issued a decree under which the practice of printing would be punishable by death.
At the end of the century, Sultan Murad III permitted the sale of non-religious printed books in Arabic characters, yet the majority were imported from Italy.
Jews were banned from German printing guilds; as a result Hebrew printing sprang up in Italy, beginning in 1470 in Rome, then spreading to other towns. Local rulers had the authority to grant or revoke licenses to publish Hebrew books.
It was thought that the introduction of the printing medium ‘would strengthen religion and enhance the power of monarchs.’ The majority of books were of religious nature with the church and crown regulating the content.
The consequences of printing wrong material were extreme. Meyrowitz used the example of William Carter who, in 1584, printed a pro-Catholic pamphlet in Protestant-dominated England.
The consequence of his action was torture and hanging.
The widespread distribution of the Bible ‘had a revolutionary impact, because it decreased the power of the Catholic Church as the prime possessor and interpreter of God’s word.’
The Holy Bible as printed in Oxford in 1717 by John Baskett became known as the ‘Vinegar Bible’ on account of the celebrated misprint in the Parable of the Vineyard. Rel.bb.71.2
No authoritative copy of the King James Bible survives.
The manuscript, supposedly still in existence in 1655, is said to have perished in the Great Fire of London.
The first editions were produced by the King’s Printer, Robert Barker, who despite his eminent position seems to have been a disorganised workman who introduced a large number of typographical errors.
The first Cambridge edition of 1629 carefully revised the text, but Barker excelled himself in 1631 with the notorious ‘Wicked Bible’ which omitted the word ‘not’ from the Seventh Commandment.
The translation itself was not universally admired either, the Puritan scholar Hugh Broughton damning it as soon as it appeared, and a later writer producing an 800 page volume on errors in the Pentateuch alone.
Nonetheless, assisted by the monopoly of the King’s Printer, the new translation rapidly supplanted the Bishops’ Bible and, more slowly, the Geneva version.
Plans for another rendering in the Commonwealth period came to nothing, and the King James version, dubbed the Authorised Version although no record survives of it ever having been authorised, reigned unchallenged until the 1880s.
From Right to Left: Norm Hodson, John (Sgt. Carter) Cresswell, Grant Hofmeyer (with beard) on Heidelberg 4; Ray Belt on KSB, John Cowell and Ian (Luwigi) Russell on KSB.
On 10 x 15 Heidelberg Platens over by the sink are: Bob Cooper in light coloured shirt and George Palmer in Overalls.
Laurie Hussin is on a Vertical Miehle behind them and I think way over in the back is ‘Farmer’ John Fletcher.
Note the pieces of dirty and stinking rubber (Cut up conveyor belt) placed at the machine delivery.
These rubber mats were procured from a fertiliser company by Frank Johnson to protect our wonderful parquet floor from the rough bastards who kept on dropping their letterpress printing formes on the floor.
The parquet floor was totally impractical for a Machine Room and soon started breaking up.
In the words of Brian James, Government Printer, “this is the largest parquet floor in the Southern Hemisphere”.
YEAH! So what…OK for a Ballroom but hopeless for a heavy work area.