How does the Gutenberg printing press work

(ORDO NEWS) — Many people roughly imagine how a modern printing press works. But its distant European ancestor, the Gutenberg printing press, has very little in common with its descendant. Today we will talk about the technique of working on this old device.

It is generally accepted that the pioneer of printing in Europe was Johannes Gutenberg, who assembled the first machine in the mid-1440s on the basis of a wine press.

Of course, after that, the technology was improved many times, but today we can clearly see the work of the same device thanks to the Printing History Museum in Crandell.

First of all, the master lubricates with ink (on an oil basis so that it does not drip from the metal) special press pads upholstered in goose skin.

It is important to evenly distribute the liquid over the entire work surface, otherwise some letters will not be printed or blurred.

After that, ink is applied with precise vertical movements to a printed blank plates with a text stencil cut out on them.

The next step is the actual printing. Paper in the Middle Ages was very expensive, so printers often used papyrus or fine leather as materials for pages.

Having fixed a sheet of paper, the master presses it tightly against the stencil and lowers the press with the help of a lever mechanism.

After that, it remains only to remove the finished sheet with the text, cut it into pages and repeat the process.

This type of typography is not only slow in itself, but also requires considerable concentration at each stage, as well as the application of physical effort twisting the levers of the press all day is very tiring.

Let’s not forget that the bindings were also made by hand, which made books a rare and very expensive commodity that not everyone could afford in the 15th century.

However, we must once again thank Gutenberg for his work, because it was thanks to his invention that literature eventually received such a massive distribution.


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