How Gutenberg's printing press works: video

It is believed that the pioneer of printing in Europe was Johannes Gutenberg, who assembled the first machine in the mid-1440s on the basis of the wine press. Of course, after that the technology has been improved many times, but today we can clearly see the operation of the very device thanks to the Museum of the History of Printing in Crandell.

First of all, the master lubricates with ink (oil-based so as not to drip from the metal) special press pillows upholstered with goose bumps. It is important to evenly distribute the liquid over the entire working surface, otherwise some letters will not be printed or blurred. After that, in precise vertical movements, the ink is applied to the printed blank - plates with a text stencil cut out on them.

The next step is direct printing. Paper in the Middle Ages was very expensive, so printers often used papyrus or finely crafted leather as page materials. Having fixed a sheet of paper, the master tightly presses it to the stencil and lowers the press using the lever mechanism. After this, it remains only to remove the finished sheet with the text, cut it into pages and repeat the process.

This type of printing 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 bindings were also made by hand, which made books a rare and very expensive product 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 gained such mass distribution.

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