1.2.1: 1460 - 1585 - Introduction

The production of printed books required much stricter organisation than the production of manuscripts, although the level of organisation of large scriptoria should not be underestimated. The production of a book, whatever its size, has always been, and still is, a process highly dependent on communication and that requires co-ordination. Printing brought new requirements for co-operation between the various people involved in the distinct processes of a printing house.

Organising is thinking ahead. Before a book could be taken in production, the printer-publisher had to procure the materials (paper or vellum, cast type, ink) as well as the capital required for financing the enterprise. He had to own one or more printing presses. He had to find and contract compositors and printers who had the necessary skills, and who were prepared to remain employed at least until the job was finished. He himself or his foreman had to ensure that they all worked together well and that they would take account of the interventions of a corrector, if there was one. And above all, the master printer had to ensure that texts were available that would make all this investment and effort worthwhile. Procuring texts was a permanent problem, whether it was from libraries that possessed valuable texts or from authors who had written new texts that were not less valuable.

The transmission and dissemination of texts is one of the main reasons for studying the production methods of early printers. A detailed analysis may lead to understanding the procedures of the printing house that produced a particular result. The preparatory calculation of a text for printer's copy, the work of the compositors, proof correction, the operation of the press and possible stop-press correction during printing, the gathering and storage of sheets and finally the consignment and trade in the finished books can all leave traces in the printed texts that are passed on to us.

author: L. Hellinga


xylographic printing

Definition: 1. printing process used in the 15th century for books in which text and image are cut out of a block of wood and are printed from that block;. 2. impression made according to this process.

printing houses

Definition: establishment or firm where books are printed.

art of printing

Definition: the art of reproducing written texts by means of movable type as it was applied for the first time in the middle of the 15th century in Europe.

intaglio printing

Definition: printing technique whereby the image is cut or etched in the forme (plate or cylinder), inked and transferred to the paper by pressing it forcefully against the forme.

printing capacity

Definition: production capacity of a printing house or printing press, measured in the number of printed sheets per time unit

printing ink

Definition: sticky substance, containing pigment, used in printing the forme.

printing houses

Definition: establishment or undertaking where printing takes place.

printing establishment

Definition: 1. printing office. 2. general term for all establishments and institutions which play a role in the production of printed matter.

printing materials

Definition: collective term for all material needed in the production of printed matter, machines as well as tools and raw material.

printing presses

Definition: 1. general term for a device or machine for the printing of books, plates, etc. 2. the whole of the activities carried out in the printing and distribution of texts.

printing process

Definition: collective term for all activities necessary in the production of printed paper.

printing techniques

Definition: collective term for the various technical procedures (letterpress, intaglio, planographic printing, screen print, foil print) used to transfer or multiply text and/or image on to paper or other material.

printing sheets

Definition: the printed sheet as it is produced on the printing press, to distinguish it from a folding sheet.

automatic printing presses

Definition: apparatus or machine for printing books, plates, etc., automatically operating, i. e. not driven by human power.

letterpress printing

Definition: printing process whereby the inked parts of the forme are raised above the non-printing ones.

printing privileges

Definition: right for the protection of printers and publishers against the illegal reproduction of printed matter before the introduction of the modern copyright.

newspaper printing offices

Definition: office or company where newspapers are printed.

printing types

Definition: metal stick with on it the raised image of a letter, figure or symbol, with which printing can be done in relief.

collotype printing shops

Definition: printing shop where printed matter is produced by means of the collotype process.

music printing

Definition: printing musical works; generally executed with one of the following techniques: letterpress, lithography or photolithography.

copperplate printing

Definition: printing process in which a copperplate press is used.

printing on demand

Definition: printing publications on demand by means of a high-grade laser printer instead of a printing press. Makes it possible to produce small print runs at a relatively low price.

rotary printing

Definition: printing process where use is made of a rotary press.

printing the white

Definition: 1. first printing of a sheet whereby the front is printed. 2. printed front of a sheet.

printing- publishing houses

Definition: establishment of a printer-publisher.

planographic printing

Definition: printing process with a flat forme (stone or metal plate) on which by a process involving chemicals the image to be printed holds the printing ink, while its surrounding area rejects it.

screen printing (1) screen print(2)

Definition: 1. printing technique whereby the ink is pressed by a squeegee through a fine-meshed textile or metal screen in which a stencil has been put. 2. print made by this procedure.