|18th century printing press|
Oh, the glories of modern technology. Information is everywhere, and we can access it as easy as turning on our phones!
This was no cake walk! Typically a print shop would employ two to three men, but if it was small, the work could be done with one person--it just would take a very long time. The "compositor" gathered the type and arranged it in composing sticks and then into galleys, the "beater" would spread the ink--a mixture of varnish and lampblack--over the galleys, and the "pressman" would pull the lever once the carriage (the place where the galleys were secured) was ready to go. A lot more work than just sitting at a computer, huh?
Still want to know more? Or perhaps you think you could do this "easy" job, huh? OK! Let me show you what it takes to print only ONE page using 18th century technology, and when we're through, tell me if you still want to take up this all-important trade!
Step 1: Gather your letters
Step Two: Fill the composing sticks and set them in the galleys.
This job often took hours. A printer's day was not easy and often lasted up to 14 hours or more.
|Hold your paper carefully. Since it's wet, it is more likely to tear--and we don't want to waste.|
Next, secure it in place.
|Make sure when you apply the ink, to cover all the letters evenly.|
Step Five: Move the carriage under the platen and pull on the lever.
What's a platen? Oh, that's the thingy that goes up and down and presses the paper to the ink-covered galley. *wink*
|Close the paper over the galleys, then move it under the platen and pull!! You will|
need a strong upper body to do this all day long.
Step Six: Remove the paper
Wow! Finally, a printed page. Now, you get to do this over and over again until your newspaper is finished . . . 14 hours later. *yikes*
|You should be very proud of yourself!|
But, your work is not yet done. The paper--not to mention the ink--is still damp and needs to dry so it won't smear.
Step Seven: Hang the paper over the ropes near the ceiling (make sure the fire is roaring nicely during cooler months) and wait until its dry to remove it.
|These are the ropes for you to hang your finished product on. Just make sure|
that the fire in your fireplace is roaring nicely. That will help the drying go faster.
So, what do you think? Would this have been your trade-of-choice? Personally, I would have loved it! (And yes, woman were known to work in print shops, though not as a general rule. In case you were wondering . . .)
I hope you have enjoyed your tour of the 18th century printing press. Thank you for joining me!
What did you think? If printing isn't your forte, what trade would you have chosen?