The Albion Press at Museum Victoria is a table model hand lever press.
The original Albion Press was invented in Great Britain around 1820 by Cope (who died in 1828).
The Albion at the Museum was manufactured in 1859 by the company Hopkinson and Cope.
It was donated by the Victorian Government Printing Office in 1979.
Its previous use is unknown but a similar press was used at the Post Office in Melbourne and was offered to the Printing Office in 1862.
It appears to have been used by the Government Printing office for minor jobbing work and proofing of galleys.
A forme was placed on the iron bed of the press and inked by roller or ink ball; a sheet of paper was placed on the open tympan (packing used to equalise the type pressure) the frisket (strong paper used to prevent the non printing areas of the forme appearing on the impression) was closed down over the tympan to hold the paper in place and the whole folded down over the type forme, resting slightly above the inked type.
The bed was then wound under the platen by a handle attached to a central rounce (handle) under the bed, the handle when pulled forward brought the platen down and an impression was taken.
The handle was pushed back and impression lifted and the bed wound back out, where the tympan was lifted off, frisket was lifted off and the printed sheet removed.
In my experience the term “printing office” was quite a common term to describe a printing establishment, The Old Guv was known as the Government Printing Office and most of the other States of Australia used the same term, it was also used in the United Kingdom and United States.
The term “print shop” was generally used to describe a small to medium printing establishment. It appears the correct terminology was a bit of an issue back in the 1890s
The 1897 British Printer article, below, sets out their thoughts on ‘Printing Office’ from that time.
Referring to the use of the term “office” as the name given to a printer’s establishment, The Printer and Bookmaker says:
“The dictionaries do not recognise any meaning of office which would justify its use for a place where printing is carried on. Properly, the business office of a printing office is the only part of the establishment entitled to the word. The proprietor and the book-keeper or typewritist are the only ones who are really justified in saying, ‘We are going down to the office now.’
The typos, pressmen, et al., should say, ‘We are going down to the shop,’ if they wish to be exact. Custom has sanctioned office, however, and its use is probably sufficiently fixed to last for centuries. This being the case, it is time that the dictionaries recognised the meaning in which printers use the word, that the knights of the stick may be backed by lexicographical authority.”
Sketch by Albrecht Durer, 1511, probably drawn from memory.
Tools shown on the cheek of the press are the same Y-shaped tool shown in the Ascensius press marks, and a pair of dividers.
Durer’s sketch. although it shows the screw running in the wrong direction, seems to be done from observation. (Durer was the godson of Nuremberg printer and publisher, Anton Koberger, and had a press in his home.)
In the well-known 1628 copperplate engraving published in Haarlem by Peter Scriverius, the scissors, dividers and paste-brush are shown again on the head of the press. In this engraving, called “the first accurate representation of a press,” the mysterious tool of 1520 is not shown.
A hammer or mallet is shown hanging from the left cheek of the press, used of course for planing the form and setting the quoins and sidesticks.
Sidesticks were strips of wood or metal; when wedged against quoins, they secured one side of a locked-up page.
He was educated as a humanistic scholar and became tutor to several of the great ducal families.
One of them, the Pio family, provided him with money to establish a printery in Venice. Aldus was at this time almost 45 years old.
He devoted himself to publishing the Greek and Roman classics, in editions noted for their scrupulous accuracy; a five-volume set of the works of Aristotle, completed in 1498, is the most famous of his editions.
He was especially interested in producing books of small format for scholars at low cost.
To this end he designed and cut the first complete font of the Greek alphabet, adding a series of ligatures or tied letters, similar to the conventional signs used by scribes, which represented two to five letters in the width of one character.
Books produced by him are called Aldine and bear his mark, which was a dolphin and an anchor (seeabove).
Aldus employed competent scholars as editors, compositors, and proofreaders to ensure accuracy in his books.
Much of his type was designed by Francesco Griffi, called Francesco da Bologna.
The Aldine Press was later managed by other members of his family, including a son, Paulus Manutius (1512–74), and a grandson, Aldus Manutius (1547–97), who was best known for his classical scholarship.
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.’