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Steven Oliver

'...no empire, no sect, no star...'

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Edited by Steven Oliver, Friday, 2 Feb 2024, 12:25

I had a great 'hands-on' experience at a print workshop run by Thin Ice Press in York. A chance to set up a line of type and then print it!

Here's my compositor's stick, lying on the fo(u)nt ... these cases were side by side, not UPPER and lower

There were a number of fonts available, I ended up working with 24pt Caslon italic. William Caslon was originally an engraver, but moved into type design and foundry in the 1720's. He's apparently the first British famous type designer - the Caslon font was used for the first printings of the the American Declaration of Independence.

My line of type below is almost finished, but if you look carefully there's a missing comma after 'sect' - so some changes were needed. Made it very clear why a printer might decide to leave some 'typos' and identify them in an erratum, rather than have to take multiple lines of type apart and rearrange. If you look closely you can see the really thin copper spacer strips that you use to make sure the type is really packed in tightly.

This was the point where you transferred your line of type into a forme, obviously there'd have been much more to do with multiple lines of type to set up on a page.

'Locked in' to a steel forme, spaced with 'furniture' and tightened with 'quoins' and resting on an imposition stone. This was quite heavy and it was only one line of 24pt, struggling to imagine lifting one of the Gutenberg bible pages!

In these machines the paper is pressed on to the type, quite a lot of fiddling to get the pressure and the imprint right.

Someone had chosen a rather lurid green ink (supposedly 'Christmasy') 😀.

Thought I'd go with a fragment of Francis Bacon, '...no empire, no sect, no star seems to have exerted greater power and influence on human affairs...'

Apparently a 16th century estimate for production time worked on 5 minutes per line for all the stages through to the final print - my effort only took a couple of hours .... the print revolution would have been a more drawn out affair with me in charge! 😆

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