Sponsor: A Letterpress-Printed Book About Printing History by Tech Journalist Glenn Fleishman ⇥ glog.glennf.com
If you’re interested in the history of how books and other printed materials were made told through technological improvements, Six Centuries of Type & Printing by Glenn Fleishman lays out the entire tale. Starting with what’s known about printing in China and Korea before it was introduced in Europe, the book takes a trip across nearly 600 years of continuous development that took us from a small shop in Mainz, Germany, to ink-jet printers in every home around the world.
For those not initiated in the old mysteries of how type was made of a lead alloy, laid out, inked, and pressed into paper, Glenn provides a solid grounding, told in a friendly tone with some key illustrations. Printing arose from a combination of historical confluences and spread like wildfire as soon as its principles were established. The story continues into the modern era, looking at the transition from metal type and relief or letterpress printing into phototypesetting, flat “offset” presses, and eventually digital typesetting and plate making.
The book’s production retraces history. Written and laid out on a computer, the book’s work shifted to a hot-metal typesetting firm in North Yorkshire, Effra Press, which relies on a computer interface to drive metal typesetting. Illustrations were etched onto magnesium plates in London. The resulting materials were combined at Hand & Eye in London, one of the few remaining commercial letterpress shops. The book’s printed sheets then headed to Germany, to Spinner Bookbinders near the Black Forest, for sewing, binding, slipcase manufacture, and foil stamping.
For a typophile or as a gift, Six Centuries of Type & Printing, printed in an edition of just over 400, is unique, informative, and an heirloom. For readers of this blog, use coupon code PIXELENVY for $10 off the $150 price of the letterpress/ebook bundle. (Price includes shipping within the U.S.)