The Wharfedale Printing Press.

wharfedale-1024x526The Wharfedale is one of a spe­cial fam­ily of presses-the ‘stop cyl­in­der’ presses.
The forme moves back­wards and for­wards on a flat-bed, and the impres­sion is made by a rotat­ing cyl­in­der.
Paper is gripped on the cyl­in­der. In com­mon with proof­ing presses, the force of the impres­sion is delivered in a thin strip (just where the cyl­in­der hits the forme). This allows for a greater pre­ci­sion of impression.
The press has a long his­tory: in 1830 Wil­liam Dawson, a joiner from Otley in West York­shire, made a ‘rul­ing machine’ from wood. This expos­ure to print­ers led to more work sup­ply­ing print­ers.
Across the UK in Ulver­ston, Stephen Soulby pat­en­ted a print­ing machine where the cyl­in­der rolled over a sta­tion­ary forme. He called the press the ‘Ulver­sto­nian’ but had little suc­cess with it and was poin­ted in the dir­ec­tion of Dawson in Otley. I assume Dawson developed Soulby’s ideas with him.
In 1855 the first machine was sent from Otley-on the banks of the river Wharfe — at a cost of £60 and was cap­able of pro­du­cing 500 impres­sions per hour. At that time twenty men were employed in this work.
By 1911 between two and three thou­sand men were engaged in build­ing this type of press along the Wharfe at dif­fer­ent works: Dawsons, Payne, Folds and so on.
Wharfedales were able to deliver between two and three thou­sand impres­sions per hour.
via Wharfedale | British Letterpress.

The Nebiolo Printech Company, Turin.

I must admit that whenever I came across Italian Nebiolo products in the printing industry there was always someone standing by cursing or belting shit out of their Nebiolo letterpress machine or running the hell away from the Nebitype Hot Metal Linecaster.38896n_1
The tradespeople could never get used to Nebiolo machinery after having used the excellent german Heidleberg Letterpress machines or the very reliable american Ludlow Typograph.
thompson-528x754The Nebitype
The Nebiolo Printech S.p.A. company was a manufacturer of printing presses and typecasters and formerly a type foundry.
Nebiolo & Co. was created when Giovanni Nebiolo bought out the type foundry of G. Narizzano in Turin, Italy, in 1852.
In 1908 the company merged with the Urania Company and operated under the name Augustea and began to buy out many smaller foundries.
In 1916 it was again renamed Società Nebiolo. Fiat bought the press manufacturing business in 1978, turning the type business over to Italiana Caratteri.
In 1992 it became Nebiolo Printech S.p.A. and continues to manufacture offset presses under that name today.
via Nebiolo Printech, Wikipedia.

Making a Handmade Book from a Lump of Lead.

Robert Macfarlane on how a sunken lane inspired a handmade book, Holloway 
An alchemical question: how do you make a book from a lump of lead?  A year ago, I couldn’t have told you. Now I know the answer.
I know because I was fortunate enough to become friends with an artist called Stanley Donwood, a letterpress printer called Richard Lawrence and a young writer called Dan Richards.
Together, we decided to self-publish a slender book called Holloway from first principles.
The first principle being a lump of lead. In short, it worked like this: we melted the lead to cast the hot metal type to set the text to crank the press to print the pages to make the book.
The process was labour-intensive, silvery and arcane. Arcane, because few people still set hot metal type these days. Silvery because lead melts at 327.5C, 
And labour-intensive, because every step takes many hours of painstaking effort.
A small book about those old ways, then, to be made in the old ways: raw lead, fresh type, hand-press.

This was where Richard Lawrence’s expertise was invaluable, as making type is fiendish work. You use a large finger-disc keyboard to punch holes in a paper tape about five inches wide.
The text is “input-blind”; the person doing it has only their memory to tell them where they have reached in the text, and whether they’ve made a mistake.  All you have to show for hours of wary key-punching is a roll of perforated white paper. That roll is what then instructs the casting machine (in this case a 1955 Monotype caster), which uses brass dies to impress the typeforms on the molten lead.
The font Richard and Stanley chose for the type was Plantin, named after the printer Christophe Plantin, first cut in 1913 and based on a face cut in the 16th century by Robert Granjon.

Christophe Plantin was an intellectual with a nose for business. Shortly before 1550 he moved from France to Antwerp. Five years later, he started his own printing works.
Once the type was cast, it had to be set letter by letter into the presses: a 1965 Heidelberg Platen press and a 1970 Vandercook proofing press.
Big, old, heavy, hardy machines: workhorses made not to break. Stanley took photographs of his line illustrations, which were converted into etched magnesium plates.
Then the plates and the type were inked, thick wove paper was bought, the 48 pages were printed, sewn up and limp-bound, and lo! – the lump of lead had become a book. Or 277 books, to be precise.
Read the Complete article via Making a book from a lump of lead | Books | The Guardian

The Vandercook Proof Press.

Vandercook press
In the early 20th century, printers were still pulling crude proofs from hand presses and simple galley roller presses that depended on gravity for the impression.
In 1909, R.O. Vandercook was the first to develop a geared, rigid-bed cylinder proof press, a machine capable of providing the industry with high-quality proofs from metal types and photoengravings.
The company’s reputation was built on technical innovation and quality construction, and for the next fifty years Vandercook & Sons set the standard for subsequent manufacturers in the U.S. and Europe.
In the 1960s, when offset lithography eclipsed letterpress as the leading commercial printing method, printers began decommissioning their letterpress equipment (often giving it away).
As a result, Vandercook presses began to be adopted by artists and hobbyists for short-run edition printing due to their ease of operation.
Now widely found in art schools and book arts centers, Vandercooks are arguably the press of choice for fine press printers and book artists.
via Vandercook Time Line – Vanderblog.

John Baskerville, Type Designer.

Born 1706–Died 1775, English type designer and printer.
He and Caslon were the two great type designers of the 18th century in England.
He began his work as printer and publisher in 1757 and in 1758 became printer to the University of Cambridge.
Baskerville’s first volume was a quarto edition of Vergil. His type faces introduced the modern, pseudoclassical style, with level serifs and with emphasis on the contrast of light and heavy lines.
This style influenced designers in France and that of Bodoni in Italy.
Books printed by Baskerville are typically large, with wide margins, made with excellent paper and ink. His masterpiece was a folio Bible, published in 1763.
After his death his wife operated the press until 1777.
Then most of his types were purchased by Beaumarchais and were used in his 70-volume edition of Voltaire.
The matrices, long lost, were rediscovered and in 1953 were presented to Cambridge University Press.
Among Baskerville’s publications in the British Museum are Aesop’s Fables (1761), the Bible (1763), and the works of Horace (1770).

First Book Printed in English.

opening-two_facing_pagesLe Recueil des Histoires de Troye, a 1464 work by Raoul Lefèvre, tells a chivalirized version of the history of the city Troy. The Greek heroes, Hercules and Jason, are recast as ideal knights and founders of the Burgundian dynasty.
It was translated by William Caxton into English soon after it was written and found popularity under its new title, The Recuyell of the Histories of Troye. But these days, it is best known for its place in the literary tradition as the first book ever printed in English, and it just sold for over one million dollars.
In the prologue of the English translation, Caxton records how the “work was begun in Bruges in the County of Flanders, the first day of March, the year of the Incarnation of our said Lord God a thousand four hundred sixty and eight, and ended and finished in the holy city of Cologne 19 September, the year of our said Lord God a thousand four hundred sixty and eleven, etc.” It was to be a gift for Duke Charles’s new wife, Margaret, upon her entry into the English court.
The original hand-written copy was produced as part of a long tradition of currying royal favor. Sotheby’s, where a first printed edition was up for auction, writes that “It is unlikely that Caxton originally intended his translation for print.
He probably first encountered the printing press when he moved to Cologne in 1471 and it was almost certainly at that point that he began to consider undertaking a radically new commercial venture: printing in English.”
Postcard_-_Bruges_-_Maison_du_Franc_II_(Excelsior_Series_11,_NoThe Beautiful City of Bruges.
The young tradition of the printing press, at the time just 30 years old, favored Latin works over any particular vernacular for their ability to find a market across Europe.
Caxton, however, was confident that the cultural cache of the Burgundian court would inspire literate English nobles to embrace The Recuyell of the Histories of Troye.
Although the date of his translation is carefully recorded in the prologue, the context of that first printing is more difficult to determine.
Historians have placed it sometime between 1473 and 1475 at a workshop in Bruges.
Read more via The First Book Ever Printed in English Sells for Over a Million Dollars | Mental Floss.