Page images


Part VI.-Fine Arts.

CHAP. I.-WRITING. See Part I., Chap 11.



1. THE first ideas of this art were certainly anterior ta those of printing by moveable types. The method of printing linen and paper for hangings, has, from time immemorial, been known in the East. Printing from wooden, blocks has been practised in China by the Jesuits for more than 1600 years. When a work is to be printed, according to this plan, it is fairly transcribed upon a thin, transparent paper. Each leaf is then reversed, and fastened upon a smooth block of hard wood, upon which the characters are engraven in relief ;-there being a separate block for each page. The Italians, Germans, Flemings, and Dutch, began to engrave on wood and copper, at the end of the fourteenth, and the beginning of the fifteenth century. The inscriptions in relief upon monuments and altars, in the cloisters, and over church porches, served as models for block-printing. The letters upon painted windows bear a strong resemblance to those in the books of images.

2. The invention of cards in France, about the year 1376, was an intermediate step. They were soon introduced into Spain, Italy, Germany, and England. At first the cards were painted about the year 1400, a method was devised of printing them from blocks. To this may directly be traced the art of printing. The books of images formed the next step ;---they were printed from

wooden blocks, one side of the leaf only being impressed, and the corresponding text placed below, beside, or issuing from the mouth of the figure. It is, therefore, quite clear, from the cotton and silk printing of the Indians, the Chinese block-printing, and these books of images, that the idea of stereotype printing is, by no means, of modern origin.

3. The art of stereotype printing was practised in Holland towards the close of the seventeenth century, by J. Vander Mey, father of the well-known painter of that name. Viessrs. S. and J. Luchtmans, of Leyden, had in 1798, in their possession the forms, or solid pages, of a quarto bible, constructed in this ingenious manner. The art of preparing solid blocks was lost at his death ; or, at least, was not afterwards employed.

4. The first use of this art in England, was by Mr. William Ged, of Edinburgh. In the year 1725 he printed, among other books, a very neat edition of Sallust, in his new method. Owing, however, either to some defect in the plan, or to the want of skill in the execution of his specimen, Mr. Ged's invention seems to have attracted but little notice.

5. In 1782, Mr. Alexander Tilloch, the present ingenious editor of the Philosophical Magazine, revived, or, rather re-discovered this art; for he is said to have been ignorant of Ged's contrivance long after he had announced his own. In the subsequent year, he took out a patent for it, in conjunction with Mr. Andrew Foulis, printer to the University of Glasgow. Mr. Tilloch, however, removing to London, the concern was dropped altogether: not, however, until several small volumes had been stereotyped and printed, under the direction of these gentlemen.

6. About the year 1789, M. Didot, of Paris, applied the stereotype art to logarithmic tables, and afterwards to several of the Latin classics, and to various French publications; he introduced several important improvements, which render his mode more convenient and useful than that of any of his predecessors. The French, as usual,, claim the merit of the invention, but our readers must soon perceive to whom this honour properly belongs. The name stereotype seems first to have been employed by

M. Didot ; it is derived from olegios, solidus, and TUTOS, typus, denoting that the types were soldered, or otherwise connected together.

7. Some years after Mr. Tilloch bad given up the prosecution of this art, Mr. Wilson, a printer, of London, engaged with Earl Stanhope, for the purpose of bringing it to perfection, and eventually to establish

in this country. After two years application, the stereotype art was, in January 1804, with the approbation of Earl Stanhope, offered to the University of Cambridge, and accepted by them. Their bibles, testaments, and prayer-books being printed in this manner. The plan was followed by the Bible Society, and other persons, for printing books of extensive sale and permanent demand, as bibles, dictionaries, grammars, &c. &c. The stereotype art has inuich the advantage of common printing for such pur. poses, wherein no alteration, as to plan or size, is allowed to take place. But for the common and general purposes of the art of printing, the method by moveable types is incontestably the best.

8. Method of Stereotype Printing. A page of matter is composed, or set up, in the common way, with moveable types; and when it is rendered as correct as the nature of the thing will admit, a mould, or impression, is then taken off the page with any suitable plastic material, and afterwards as many solid pages are cast from the mould as may be wanted. This is a great improvement upon Ged's plan, which consisted only in setting up the moveable types, and soldering them together, and thus forming a perma

rrent page.

9. The principal objects of this invention are extreme correctness and economy. The first is attained by avoiding those accidents which frequently render letter-press imperfect, even after attention has been paid to its correctness; as the falling out of types, and their being displaced by those who restore them; and further, by securing to all future editions the advantages thus laboriously accomplished in the first. The second, that of economy, is promoted by the success of the first ; for the expenditure necessary for one edition serves for all the rest : but, as in this plan, the first edition is inuch more expensive than

in the ordinary method. This invention applied to books that may never be printed a second time, or which, if repeatedly prinied, may be as repeatedly altered, is the very reverse of frugality.


1. Printing by letter-press is the most curious branch of the art, and demands the most particular notice. It has been often remarked, that as seven cities in Greece dis. puted for the birth of Homer, so three cities in Europe, Haerlein, Strasbourg, and Mentz, claim the honour of the invention of printing.

2. Without entering minutely into the disputes which have long agitated the minds of those who have felt a particular interest in this investigation, we state it as our opinion, that Guttemberg was the inventor of the art of printing by moveable types; that he began the art at Strasbourg, and perfected it at Mentz. In this opinion, the earliest writers who mention printing are all agreed.

3. That the first attempts at printing were made at Strasbourg is, we think, incontestibly proved by the following circumstances. John Guttemberg entered into a partnership with Andrew Drizehennius, John Riff, and Andrew Heilmann, all citizens of Strasbourg, binding himself to discover to them some important secrets whereby they should make their fortunes, Each at first contributed 80 florins, and afterwards 125. The workshop was in the house of Andrew Dritzehen, who died. Guttemberg immediately sent his servant Beildeck to Nicholas, the brother of the deceased; to request him to suffer no one to enter the workshop, lest the secret should be discovered, and the forms stolen. But this had already been done.

4. This theft, and the claim which Nicholas made to succeed to his brother's share, occasioned a law suit, and the evidence of the servant affords explicit and incontrovertible proof in favour of Guttemberg, as the first who practised the art of printing with moveable types. The document, containing the account of this trial, &c. is dated 1439. It was published in the original German, with a Latin version, by Schopflin, in his “ Vindiciæ Typographicæ." M. Lambinet, in his “ Recherehes Historiques sur l'Origine de l'Art de l'imprimeries,” published at Paris a few years ago, says, that the German is obscure, and that every one will interpret the equivocal words in favonr of bis own opinion. It is, however, manifest, that Guttemberg expressiy ordered that the forms should be broken up, and the characters dispersed ; a fact clearly proving, that the art of printing was at that time a secret, and that inoreover it was performed with moveable types. Guttemberg, after having sunk what he and his associates had embarked in this speculation, returned to Mentz, where he was born, and succeeded better in a partnership with Fust.

5. The evidence in favour of Guttemberg appearing to us decisive, we shall not enter into any examination of the claims advanced by the other candidates for the honour of being the inventor of the art of letter-press printing. The names of those persons were Jobn Fust, of Mentz; John Mental, of Strasbourg; and L. John Koster, of Haerlem. When the city of Mentz was taken by Adolphus, Count of Nassau, in 1402, Fust, and Schoeffer, servant and son-inlaw to Fust, suffered materially with their fellow-towns

Their associates and workmen dispersed to seek their fortunes, and the art was thus diffused over Europe. When it was first established at Paris, the transcribers of books, finding their business so materially injured, presented a memorial of complaint to the parliament, and that tribunal, as superstitious as the people, who took the printers for conjurors, had their books seized and confiscated. Louis XI. who, villain as he was, was the friend and patron of letters, forbade the parliament to take any farther cognizance of the affair, and restored their property to the printers.

6. The art of printing now began to spread itself over a great part of Europe with astonishing rapidity. It was practised at Rome in the year 1467, and the year follow ing it was introduced into England by Thomas Bouchiers' Archbishop of Canterbury, who sent W. Turner, master of the robes, and W. Caxton, merchant, to the continent, to learn the art. Turner and Caxton met with one Çora


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