« PreviousContinue »
seilles an under-workman, whom they bribed with considerable presents and large promises, to come over to England, and instruct them in the art. This business having been accomplished, a press was set up at Oxford, which was afterwards removed to St. Albans, and after that to Westminster Abbey. The learned Dr. Conyers Middleton, and others, are inclined to doubt the truth of this part of the history of printing. It is certain, that Caxton did not return immediately to England, but continued some time on the continent, following the business
of a printer. Indeed, both the origin and the history of į the first introduction of the art of printing into this coun
try are involved in doubt and obscurity, and nothing has ever yet been published perfectly satisfactory on this subject.
7. Fine printing was first introduced by the ingenious BASKERVILLE, who succeeded in producing a type of superior elegance, and an ink which gave additional beauty to the type. The numerous editions which he published of various important works, but particularly of the Latin classics, are well known. They were printed in a style of elegance far surpassing every thing of the kind, which had before issued from the press. The peculiar excellence attached to the types of Baskerville, and the consequent celebrity he obtained, gave a stimulus to the exertions, and called forth the emulation of our countrymen. From the presses of BENSLEY, BULMER, Davison, WHITTINGHAM, McCREERY, BALLANTYNE, and RAMSAY, have issued some of the finest specimens of typography that are to be found in this country, or in Europe.
8. Types.-The letters are divided into LARGE CAPITALS, SMALL CAPITALS, and Italic. The different sorts of letter most frequently used, are: black letter, great primer, english, pica, small pica, long primer, bourgeois, brevier, minion, nonpareil, pearl, and diamond. To give the reader some idea of these different sorts of types, and at the same time to enable him to distinguish them, we have given a specimen of each in the following account of the inode of printing.
1. GREAT PRIMER.
Mode of Letter Press
Printing. The workmen employed in this art, are compositors and pressmen.
The first are those persons whose business it is to range and dispose the letters into words, lines, pages, &c.-
pressmen are those who, properly speaking, are the printers, as they take off the impressions from the letters, after they are prepared for that purpose by the compositors.-
4. SMALL PICA.
The types being provided for the compositor, he distributes each kind, or sort, by itself, into small cells or bəxes, made in two wooden frames, called the cases ; the upper-case, and the lower-case. The cells in the upper-case are ninety-eight in number ; those of the lower-case are fifty-four.
5. LONG PRIMER. The upper-case contains two alphabets of capitals; large, or full capitals, and small capitals. They also contain cells for the figures, the accented letters, the characters used in references to notes, &ci; and one cell, being a middle one in the bottom row, for the small letter, k. The capitals in this case are disposed alphabetically.
The lower-case is appropriated to the small letters, the double letters, the points, parentheses, spaces, and quadrats.-
7. BREVIER. The boxes of the lower-case are of different sizes ; the largest being for the letters most in use ; but the arrangement is not, in this instance, alphabetical, those letters oftenest wanted, being placed nearest to the compositor's hand.
8. MINION. As there is nothing en the outside of the boxes to deuote the letters they respectively contain, it is curious to observe the dexterity mani. fested by the compositor in finding and taking up the letters, as he wants them, from the different cells. Each case is placed in an ins clined direction, that the compositor may reach the upper-case with
9. NONPAREIL. The instrument in which the letters are set, is called a composingstick, which consists of a long plate of brass or iron, on the side of which arises a ledge, which runs the whole length of the plate, and serves to support the letters, the sides of which are to rest against it,
10. PEARL. Along this ledge is a row of holes, for introducing a screw to lengthen or shorten the line, by moving the sliders farther from, or nearer to, the shorter ledge at the end of the composing-stick. Where marginal notes are required, the two sliding pieces are opened to a proper distance from each other.
11. DIAMOND. length of the line, and of the same height as the letter, in the composing-stick, parallel with the Before the compositor begins to compose, he pues a thin slip of brass plate, called a rule, cut to the ledge, against which the letters are intended to bear. The compositor being thus' furnished with an instament suited to hold the letters as they are arranged into 3.5, lines, & he places bis copy on the upper case, just before him, and holding the suick in his left hand, his thumb being over the wider, with the right he takes up the letters, spaces, &c. one by one, and places them against the me, while he supports them with his left thumb, by pressing them against the slider, the other hand being employed in setting in other letters.
9. Having in this manner composed a line, he takes the brass rule from behind it, and places it before the letters of which it is composed, and proceeds to compose another line in the same manner. But before he removes the brass rule, he notices whether the line ends with a complete word, or with an entire syllable of a word, including the hyphen that is put to denote the division, when a word is divided into syllables. If he finds that his words exactly fill the measure, he has nothing more to do with that line, but proceeds with the next. But if he finds the mea
sure not entirely filled at the ending of a word or syllable, he puts in more spaces, diminishing the distances between the words, until the measure is full; and this operation, which is called justifying, is done in order that all the lines in the composing-stick may be of equal length. Much depends upon exactness in justifying; and great care is taken by expert compositors that the lines are neither too closely wedged into the composing-stick, nor yet loose and uneven. The spaces are pieces of metal, of various thicknesses, exactly shaped like the shanks of the letters. They are used to regulate the distances between the words.
10. When the composing-stick has been filled with lines, being generally in number about ten or twelve, the compositor empties it on to a thin board, called a galley, being of an oblong shape, with a ledge on two sides, and a groove to admit a false bottom. When the compositor has filled and emptied his stick until he has composed a page, he ties it up with a piece of pack-thread, and removes it from the galley, either to the imposing-stone, or to such other safe and convenient place as he may think proper. And in this manner he proceeds until he has composed as many pages as are required to make a sheet, or, in some instances, a half-sheet. He then proceeds to arrange
pages on the imposing-stone, which is a very large oblong stone, of about five or six inches in thickness. The pages are so arranged, that when they are printed, they may be folded so as to follow each other regularly. Great care, and some ingenuity, are requisite in imposing a sheet or half-sheet, particularly of works in sizes less than folio or quarto. Having laid down or disposed the pages in right order on the imposing-stone, the compositor proceeds to what is called dressing the chases. The chase is a rectangular iron frame, of different dimensions, according to the size of the paper to be printed; having two cross pieces, of the same metal, called a long and short cross, mortised at each end so as to be taken out occasionally. By the different situations of these crosses the chase is fitted for different volumes; for folios, quartos, octavos, &c.
11. To dress the chase, a set of furniture is necessary, consisting of small slips of wood of different dimensions.
The first thing to be done, is to lay the chase over the pages: after this, that part of the furniture called guttersticks, are placed between the respective pages. Then another part of the furniture called reglets, are placed along the sides of the crosses of the chase. The reglets are of such a thickness as will let the book have proper margins after it is bound. Having dressed the inside of the
pages, the compositor proceeds to do the same with their outsides, by putting side-sticks and foot-sticks to them. Thus the pages being placed at proper distances, they are all untied, and fastened together by small wooden wedges, called quoins. These small wedges being firmly driven
the sides and feet of the pages, by means of a mallet, and a piece of hard wood called a shooting-stick, all the letters are fastened together. The work in this condition is called a form, and is ready for the pressman, who lays it upon the press, for the purpose of pulling a proof. When a proof is pulled, the form or forms are rubbed over with a brush, dipped in ley, made of pearlash and water; they are then carefully taken off the press, and the proof and forms delivered to the compositor. As it is impossible for the most careful compositor so to compose all his sheets as not to require to be carefully read and corrected before they are finally worked off, the next thing to be done is to put the proof along with the copy from which it has been composed, into the hands of the reader, or corrector, whose business it is to read over the whole proof two or three times with great care aud attention, marking such errata in the margin of every page as he shall observe.
- 12. After a proof sheet has been read, and the errata thus noticed by the reader, it is again put into the hands of the compositor, who proceeds to correct in the metal what has been marked for correction in the proof. He then unlocks the form on the imposing-stone, by loosening the quoins or wedges which bound the letters together. He then casts his eye over one page of the proof, noticing what letters, &c. are required. Having gathered as many corrections, from the cases, between the thumb and forefinger of his left hand, as he can conveniently bold, and an assortment of spaces, on a piece of paper, or in a small square box with partitions in it, he takes a sharp pointed