3.2.4: 1725 - 1830 - Copy, composition, printing (printing presses, printing ink) and correction

The description of composition and printing in the encyclopaedia Algemeen kunstwoorden-boek der wetenschappen by J. Hubner, edited by A.H. Westerhovius (1734, headword 'Drukkery') was not a manual for professionals. This description was reprinted a number of times, sometimes rewritten, and was used in 1822 as the basis for the format book by J.C. Zweijgardt which only survives in manuscript form. A few correction manuals have appeared in print of which the most important is De nieuwe corrector from 1819. A printer's manual was not published during this period, but a manuscript of 1801 has been preserved of such a manual written by David Wardenaar which is our most important source.

What these texts tell us and what we know from the study of the books themselves hardly differs from the techniques of composition and printing in the period 1585-1725. Only a few of the major typographical innovations which were introduced in England and France reached the Netherlands during the French period; Dutch contributions to innovations are lacking completely.

The changes were minimal with respect to composition. Cast leads and furniture replaced wooden ones and ensured a better locked-up forme. We seldom see a specialist corrector: the employer or the foreman usually did the proof reading. An occasional division of tasks occurred in the composing room: a make-up man constructed pages and formes from the pieces of composition supplied by the compositor. Stereotype was new and a way to overcome the shortage of type and to make reprinting simple. This procedure was invented a number of times in the eighteenth century (the first time probably in Leiden at the beginning of the century), but was only used more widely around 1820 after successful procedures had been developed.

In this period, general use was made of the wooden printing press with the so-called Blaeu-hose (described in detail by Wardenaar). Each side of the sheet still went under the platen twice (two pulls for each half of the forme). Attempts at the end of the eighteenth century to implement a one-pull press by making the platen the same size as the forme (in France) or to increase and regulate the pulling power (in England), only found a response here around 1820 (at Enschedé's in Haarlem). The iron hand presses produced in England from about 1805 - the successful successors to the wooden press (one pull, strong and regulated pressure) - also only made some headway here after about 1820, initially at Enschedé's. The same applied to the printing machine (cylinder press), produced from about 1815 in England and, a little later, also in Germany and France: from around 1830 a few can be found in the Netherlands, again the first at Enschedé's. The wooden press remained the norm, however, until well into the century. The ink roller, invented around 1815 in both France and England, made its appearance at the same time as the iron press and the printing machine and enabled rapid, even inking.

author: F.A. Janssen

Copy, composition, printing (printing presses, printing ink) and correction