Our last blog finished with the invention of the Gutenberg press. As well as serving as a catalyst for the Reformation and vastly increasing literacy rates throughout Europe, the Gutenberg press was a world-changing invention for everything print related. His technique of making moveable type is still not entirely clear. He was definitely familiar with casting metal from a reverse impression, but it’s unclear if he did this with sand or plaster castings.

A few years after Gutenberg’s death, however, the production of a metal punch was used to produce a reverse impression of the type.

Printing’s development in Britain

William Caxton (1415-1492)

Upon visiting a printing press in Cologne, William Caxton printed the first book in the English language in 1473 in Bruges. In 1476, he printed the first book in Westminster, an edition of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. Caxton went on to print popular English and Roman histories, along with chivalric romances.

It is due to William Caxton that the English language became standardised, developed a set syntax and inflection, and widened the general vocabulary of the language.

William Caslon (1692-1766)

Caslon was a designer of typefaces, and set up the first type foundry in 1716. The type he created was so distinct and legible; he was given the patronage of many of the leading printers at that time.

The typefaces he created were used for many printed important document, including the first printed copy of the US Declaration of Independence. His typefaces are still popular to this day.

John Baskerville (1706-1775)

John Baskerville was responsible for much advancement in printing, ink production and paper. He developed a smoother, whiter paper that was far more efficient at showing off strong black type. His pioneering style of typography saw the introduction of leading between each line and adding wide margins.

The Victorian era

The Victorian era saw a great deal of change for the printing process, with the development of steam presses, which allowed for greater numbers of documents to be printed. Limestone slabs once integral to lithography were replaced by litho machines and mental plates.

As well as this, Chromolithography was developed, allowing printers to produce multi-coloured impressions on paper.