The History of Printing. (Concluded from No. 41.)

Scientific American 42, 10.7.1847

The press was at the commencement a very rode machine. The first change in their make was wrought by an ingenious printer of Amsterdam, named Blaew, who had been brought up as a carpenter, but having become acquainted with Tycho Brahe, he turned his attention to the making of astronomical and mathematical instrument, and he published an Atlas in three volumes folio, in the execution of which he engaged all the celebrated geographers of his time. Having discovered many imperfections in the printing-presa, he studied to remedy them, and he succeeded in making many improvements. He caused nine to be made after his plan, and named them after the fuses. Presses of the structure soon became general in the Low Countries, from whence, after a bigotted attachment to the clumsy old ones, they were used by the printers there, it was not until the commencement of the present century that any further improvements of consequence were introduced. The Stanhope and the Columbian presses are well known as being the very successful result of efforts to improve the mechanism of printing, and these hand presses have perhaps reached the ultimatum of the excellence of which they are capable. The first of those we have just named, was the invention belongs to his lordship, who declined to take out a patent for it, and the manufacture of presses upon this plan became common. Its superiority consisted in this, that by the adjustment of the screw and lever a single pull was sufficient to take off an impression, but on the old system two separate efforts were required. Not more than 250 impressions however per hour, could be worked off with the most improved press; and as the impression was only on one side, it followed that only 125 printed sheets could be executed in that time. In 1814, steam power was first applied to the process of printing, and the machine has now been brought to such perfection that upwards of four thousand sheets can be printed in an hour, this being the rate at which the "Sun" newspaper is printed daily.

Before we can print, we must have types, and typefounding ie generally a separate trade. The different sizes in which the typesare cast, are termed bodies, and there are nineteen of them. About a hundred pounds weight of type is considered a moderate sized fount. The matrix is of copper impressed by a steel punch, and it is placed in a steel mould the size of the shank of the type. The mould is then held in the founder's left hand whilst he pours the moniten metal out of a ladle into it, with his right. The mould isq uickly opened, the type thrown out, and the workman repeats the process. In this way from 400 to 550 types can be coat per hour. Towards the end of the sixteenth century a printer at Leyden, first used stereotype printing in producing a quarto edition of the bible. William Ged, an English goldsmith, was the first who used the process in Britain, about 1725, and having entered into partnershi pwith two other persons, they obtained a privilege from the University of Cambridge, for printing bibles. Some quarrel unluckily broke out, and one of the partners maliciously injured the works The bibles printed after this were so full of errors that the king prohibited them to carry on their operations further. The mode of forming stereotype plates is this; after the type has been composed and set ie form as if it was to be printed from, it is carefully cleaned and then oiled. A cast is then taken from it in plaster of Paris, and then baked. When hard enough, it is placed in a box or frame, and a quantity of moulten metal is then poured over the whole. The plaster is then removed and the stereotype plate is produced, from which almost any number of copies can be taken as they are wanted. When a large number of copies are required, and particularly where simultaneous publication at several places, is necessary, the stereotype process is generally adopted. The early printery were usually their own publishers; and publishers now-a-days are frequently their own printers, especially when periodical works are in question.

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