Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The arrival of the Dürer Press in London

This is a particularly fascinating project, which if you have any interest in History, you'll be interested in....

Here's the copy which I have lifted from the Dürer press website:
 No records remain of the machine Johann Gutenberg used to print the first books with moveable type. The question of what this press and other early presses were like has occupied the minds of generations of historians. It can never be definitively answered. The person who has probably come closest to a reasonable reconstruction of a very early press is Alan May, a man who has both the knowledge of a print historian and the technical skills of a craftsman. Alan used these abilities to acclaimed effect in 2008 when a television production company gave him the chance to construct a press to print a facsimile page from Gutenberg’s 42-line Bible of the 1450s. The process of research, design and construction of the press was a key feature of The machine that made us, the resulting documentary presented by Stephen Fry.

Following from the construction of this press and from a well-known sketch of a printing press made, probably from memory, by the artist Albrecht Dürer in 1511, Alan made a number of observations about the way presses probably developed from the very first examples. When the Dürer Press Group commissioned a new working press from Alan in 2014, his insights led to a machine that can either be used as a ‘one-pull’ press, as we believe Gutenberg’s was, or as a ‘two-pull’ press. The two-pull configuration is shown in Dürer’s sketch and gives greater output by allowing two pages of a book to be printed without taking the paper out of the press and putting it back in again. It is probable that older, one-pull, presses were modified in this way to give the printer a considerable boost from a machine that would be costly to replace.
The press, handmade by Alan May in Summer 2014.
The press has been given a home in the print workshop at the St Bride Foundation in London and there was a launch event on Wednesday 12th November. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend, but here are some pictures of the recent installation of the "new press"!
There aren't many printers in London who can claim to have a 500 year old press, let alone a brand new model!

Posted by Justin Hobson 24.11.2014

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