For the leading events in the history of the art, see Annals of Printing; for an account of the different inscriptions of printing, see Impression.


*The art of taking one or more impressions from the same surface, whereby characters and signs, cast, engraven, drawn, or otherwise represented thereon, are caused to present their reverse images upon paper, vellum, parchment, linen, or other substances, in pigments of various hues, or by means of chemical combinations of which the components are contained, on or within the surface from which the impression is taken, or on the fabric of the thing impressed, or both.

Letterpress printing is the art of taking impressions from letters and other characters cast in relief upon several pieces of metal. The impressions are taken either by superficial or surface pressure, as on the common printing press, or by lineal or cylindrical pressure as in the printing machine and roller press. The pigments or inks, of whatever colour, are always upon the surface of the types, and the substances which may be impressed are various. Wood cuts and other engravings in relief are also printed in this manner.

Copperplate printing is the reverse of he preceding, the characters being engraven in intaglio and the pigment or inks contained within the lines of the engravings, and not upon the surface of the plate. The impressions are always taken by lineal or cylindrical pressure, the substances to be impressed, however, are more limited. All engraving in intaglio, on whatever material, are printed by this method.

Lithographic printing is, from. the surface of certain porous stones, upon which characters are drawn with peculiar pencils or pens, &c. The surface of the stone being wetted, the chemical colouring compound adheres to the drawing and refuses the stone. The impression is taken by a scraper, that rubs violently upon the backs of the substances impressed, which are fewer still in number. Drawings upon zinc and other materials are printed by this process.†

Cotton and Calico printing is from surfaces engraven either in relief or intaglio, but it is a branch of printing which does not enter within the scope of this work.

Block Printing was known in China as early as B.C. 202, and is said to have been introduced from that country into Europe by Marco Polo in the latter part of the 15th century. It was first employed in the manufacture of playing-cards and little books of devotion, consisting in most cases of only one page, illustrated by rude pictures, and containing short scripture texts. The earliest date on these books is 1423. The invention of printing with moveable types is claimed for several persons, the chief of whom are Lawrence Coster (1370–1440), of Haarlem; John Gutenburg, born at Mentz (Mayence) about 1400, settled at Strasburg in 1424, returned to Mentz in 1441, dying there February 24, 1468; John Mentelin (1410–78), of Strasburg; John Faust, who died about 1490; and Peter Schoeffer or Schoffer, of Mentz, who died about 1502. Coster is said to have printed by means of separate wooden types, tied together with thread, as early as 1430, but the evidence is doubtful. John Gutenberg or Geinsfleiseh, established himself at Mentz in 1441, and printed two small books in 1442. In 1443 he took John Fust or Faust into partnership, and in 1450 he first employed cut-metal tyes in the production of the Mazarin Bible, which appeared five years later. About the same time Peter Schoeffer, the servant of Gutenberg and Faust, invented cast-metal types, which were first used in 1459. The Gothic types, or “Black” letter, gave place to Roman letters towards the end of the 16th century.

  1. 1451.—Printing introduced at Harlem by John Gutenberg.
  2. 1455.—The Mazarin Bible is printed by Gutenberg.
  3. 1457.—Faust and Schœffer print the Psalter.
  4. 1462.—Count Adolphus of Nassau takes Mentz, and compels the printers to remove to other towns, whereby the art is diffused.
  5. 1465.—Printing introduced at Subiaco, in Italy. The first book printed here contained the Greek characters among its quotations.
  6. 1466.‐Sweynheym and Pannartz establish the first press at Rome.
  7. 1467.—They introduce Roman types.
  8. 1469.—The first press is established at Paris, being the second in France, the first being introduced into Tours to years earlier.
  9. 1470.—“Signatures” are first employed by Antonio Zarot, at Milan.
  10. 1471.—Caxton, who sets up the first press in England, at Westminster, prints the “Game of Chesse,” which was finished in 1474.
  11. 1475.—Printing is introduced into Spain, at Barcelona.

    The first printed Almanack was composed by Regiomontanus, who received a munificent donation from the King of Hungary for his trouble.

  12. 1476.—The first work wholly in Greek type is printed in Milan.
  13. 1488.—The first Bible in Hebrew characters is printed at Sorocino in Italy.
  14. 1495.—The art of printing Music is introduced into England.
  15. 1500.—Aldus Manutius invents Italic type about this year.

    The first patent of King’s Printer was granted to Richard Pinson by Henry VII. He was afterwards succeeded by Thomas Berthelet.

  16. 1501.—Printing is introduced into Scotland.
  17. 1515.—Ottavio de Petrucci invents Music Printing from Metal Types.
  18. 1526.—The New Testament, being the first English Bible, is printed at Antwerp.
  19. 1539.—The Great, or Cromwell’s Bible, the first printed by authority in England.
  20. 1540.—The “Byrth of Mankynd,” the earliest English work in which Copper-plate Printing is employed, is printed.
  21. 1542.—The “Imprimerie Royale” is established at Paris by Francis I.
  22. 1551.—Humphrey Powell introduces printing into Ireland.
  23. 1560.—A native merchant introduces the art into Russia.
  24. 1637.—By order of the Star-Chamber the businesses of Printer and Type Founder are ordered to be kept distinct, and only four Type Founders are permitted in the Kingdom.
  25. 1639.—Printing first performed in the United States of America by the Rev. Jesse Glover. It had previously been introduced by Stephen Daye, from London, in Massachusetts, but no work had been performed.
  26. 1720.—Type founding is first practised with success in England by William Caslon.
  27. 1725.—Stereotype-printing is invented by Ged, of Edinburgh.
  28. 1726.—Printing is introduced into Turkey
  29. 1776.—The printing of Maps Moveable Types is invented by Conrad Sweynheym.
  30. 1778.—Henry Johnson invents Logographic Printing.
  31. 1780.—Tilloch invents an improved system of Stereotype.
  32. 1784.—Valentine Haüy invents Embossed Typography and applies it to Printing Books for the Blind.
  33. 1785.—The Daily Universal Register (afterwards The Times) is brought out, January 13, as a specimen of Logographic Printing.
  34. 1790.—W. Nicholson Patents a Self-acting Printing Machine.
  35. 1800.—Lord Stanhope invents the Stanhope Press.
  36. 1804.—König directs his attention towards the improvement of the Printing Press.
  37. 1811.—The sheet h of the “Annual Register” for 1810, printed in April, is the first work printed by a machine.
  38. 1814.—The Times is the first Steam-printed Newspaper. König’s machine being the first apparatus employed, Nov. 28th.
  39. 1815.—Composition Balls for Inking Type are invented by Benjamin Franklin.

    Cowper commences his inventions connected with the Press, and introduces the Inking Roller.

  40. 1817.—R. Ackerman introduces Lithographic Printing into England.
  41. 1818.—George Clymer, of Philadelphia, patents the Columbian Press in London.

    Applegath takes out a Patent for Improvements in Cylindrical Printing Machines.

  42. 1827.—Gall, of Edinburgh, invents a system of Printing for the Blind.
  43. 1840.—Anastatic Printing introduced.
  44. 1852.—Andrew Worsing, of Vienna, invents Nature Printing.
  45. 1858.—Hoe’s American Printing Machine is introduced into England.
  46. 1862.—Grüner’s Folding, Stitching, and Glazing Machine introduced into England.
  47. 1863.—Bonelli’s Printing Telegraph invented.
  48. 1869.—Marinoni’s French Printing Machines are introduced into England, and used in printing the Echo.
  49. 1869.—The “Walter Press” brought to perfection, and used in Printing the London Times.

    Bullock’s American Printing Machine is introduced into England, and used in Printing the London Daily Telegraph.

  • *Latin Prem-ere, to press: equivalents—French, imprimer; Spanish, imprimir, to press, stamp, or infix, letters, characters, forms, or figures.
  • †Encyc. Britt. 8th. ed. xviii. 520.

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