4-Hand-Press Period.doc

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St. Michael's College Courses
Lindsey Eckert

October 4, 2011 The Hand-Press Period Quiz - October 18 - 1 hour (start ~2:15) - No notes - 15 vocabulary identifications (30 points) - One diagram to label (10 points) --> anything from slides is fair game (dia- grams at back of Williams and Abbott and in Gaskell) - 4 short answer essay questions (15 points per question = 60 points) - You’ll be choosing from a list of 6 possible questions - Questions focus on processes and concepts - Readings and lectures = fair game - Another lecture follows the exam - Midterm is in AH400 - Example of a short answer question: Describe the process of printing a sheet of text on a common press. You should use accurate terminology when discussing the key steps and the parts of the press itself What is the Hand-Press Period? - From around 1500-1800 (wasn’t an immediate change: a lot of overlap with hand-press and machine press) - 1800 was chosen because of paper production rather than machine presses - Characterized by the use of common press, which was made of wood - All of the the moveable type was set by hand What is the Machine-Press Period? - From around 1800-1950 - Characterized by innovations in the production of paper, typesetting, and the movement from wood to steel presses - Machines start to make paper rather than people - Rather than individual people casting type for each letter, machines start to do it for people - Common press = wood - After 1800- presses function like wood ones but are made from steel The Life of a Text in the Hand-Press Period - McGann from last week: “the process of transcriptions is characterized by transcription is characterized by variation...such variation may be assumed to be universal, every transcription introducing new variants (Williams and Abbott, 7) - How can bibliography help? - It helps us understand variations, when they take place rd nd - Title pages lie to you -- might say “3 edition printed in 1753” -- really 2 edition etc. - Bibliographers - need to be investigators -- you can’t trust the content, and look beyond that at the material (what the book as an object is telling you) Casting Type in the Hand-Press Period - Casting type = most important contribution Gutenberg made to printing - Each letter in each word = had to be cast individually by casters Moveable Type 1. A person called a punch cutter carved an individual letter in reverse, this resulted in a punch (This is where Gutenberg’s training helped). 2. The punch was hammered into a softer piece of metal to create a right reading impression of the letter, called a matrix. 3. The matrix (mold) would be filed and fitted into a type-casting instrument made of wood to hold it in place. 4. Molten metal would be poured into the instrument, resulting in a reverse- reading impression of the matrix --> backwards letter that when you read it, when printed, will read forwards (normal). The Print Shop in the Hand-Press Period Basic Equipment: - 1 or more common presses (in an area of high demand for print - more presses needed; in a small region with not as many books but maybe need for newspaper and ads - 1 press, small selection of type) - Cases of type - larger press had lots of different fonts, sizes, bold, italic, etc (but it’s a large investment); smaller-scale ones would reuse the same basic ones over and over until they get worn down and can be melted to cast more type - Wooden furniture and quoins - metal is expensive; wood is cheap and fills in the gap; quoins hold the thing in place - Chases - frame to set different formats - Galley trays - a big metal tray to set type aside when you save type for later - Bed: place type on bed to print - Composing stick: set individual lines of type - Tympan: place sheet of paper that you want to print - Frisket: a frame covered in animal skin/paper and cut out a hole that’s the same size of the thing you want to print and fold down so extra paper stays white - Platen: metal/wood piece is what creates the impression --> FLAT and HEAVY; size restriction on sheet depending on size of platen - Bar: lever you pull to create impression Type - Expensive - Often smaller print shops would only have a limited supply of one or two dif- ferent fonts - Large operations would have a wide selection of typefaces and sizes - Can be a powerful bibliographic tool -- can tell where it was printed by size, fonts - Type was organized in cases: compartmented trays in which type is kept for composition -- because it’s hard to make sure it’s the right letter and right size when it’s backwards Chase and Furniture - Chase: a frame in which pages of type are arranged and locked up for print- ing - Furniture: wood spacing material set around a text block to lock it into a chase The People - Compositor: The compositor was the person setting the actual type (pretty much all men) - would need to be trained - Distributor: distributed type back into the case after it was finished being printed. His job is known as distribution (sometimes compositor also did this job) - Standing type = when you printed all the pages and the distributor i
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