Dramatis Personae Archive / Programme / Print Culture
When Johannes Gutenberg combined the technologies of movable type and the screw press to mechanize the art of printing around 1440, the idea that a printing machine could effectively replace the ancient manual form of textual reproduction was initially met with skepticism. Until that time, hand-written or hand-copied manuscripts were the only form of printed text. The letterpress’ early technical difficulties and the time it took to produce an “incunabulum” (printed text before 1501) did little to alter public perception of the new bel art; however, this perception changed as the art of printing improved with advancements in the mechanics of printing, mobile type setting, and the science of papermaking. The ability to rapidly produce multiple copies of a manuscript brought about a decisive change of opinion. By the mid seventeenth century, Denys de Sallo recognized the press’ potential contribution to the dissemination of knowledge and took advantage of its speed, publishing the first known science journal, the Journal des Sçavans.
OTHER LINKS OF INTEREST ON PRINT HISTORY
Site hosted by Belmont Abbey College presents an online exhibition of rare book and special collections dating from 1474-1900.
Homepage for the Lyon Printing Museum (French Only)
PDF contains extensive history, pictures and statistics for the Press (French Only)
Home site for the French National Printing Press
Though printing itself has existed as a form of art, expression and communication since our earliest recorded history, the arrival of the printing press marked the beginning of a revolution that would progressively globalize the world by making information, ideas, knowledge, and the arts more widely accessible to everyone.
By Adam Magalei (BA 2006)
University of Utah