Metal Type: Home | Library | Forum | Free Ads | Store

Movable Type

Started by Mechanic, April 16, 2015, 01:22:38 AM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Printle: A Printing Word Game from Metal Type


Haarlemmerhout monument to Coster erected in 1823. His gravestone was never found, so this monument was a substitute memorial.

The monument also appears on a silver medal from 1823 by De Vries and Son.
Monument to Laurens Janszoon Coster, arms of Haarlem below. rev. inscriptions in 12 lines within wreath.


Enschedé Type Foundry, Medalist: Carel Joseph Begeer, 1893, Material: Bronze, 41 mm.

In 1703, Izaak Enschedé established a printing shop in Haarlem, The Netherlands, printing, among other things, the city newspaper and the Book of psalms for the Dutch Reformed Church. His son Johannes added a retail bookshop and bought hundreds of fonts from the type founder J.M. Fleischmann.

In 1866 the Dutch government entrusted the Enschedé firm with the printing of stamps and currency. From 1923 to his death in 1958, Jan van Krimpen was Enschedé's chief type designer. The firm Enschede also appears in the postage stamp thread both as printers of stamps and celebrated by appearing on stamps from Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles and Suriname.

The side of the medal shown here depicts the Enschedé coat of arms, with the Dutch prototypographer Jan Laurens Coster standing in the background. Combined image shows obverse and reverse.


Back to the origins of movable type........................... Bi Sheng is often depicted holding movable type and standing by a type wheel.

Wang Zhen, an official of the Yuan Dynasty working in Jingde County in Anhui province, and author of the Nong Shu, developed movable type carved from wood in China around 1280 CE. The wood type was more durable than clay type, but worn pieces could only be replaced by carving new ones.

"In improving movable type printing, Wang Zhen mentioned an alternative method of baking earthenware printing type with earthenware frame in order to make whole blocks. Wang Zhen is best known for his usage of wooden movable type while he was a magistrate of Jingde in Anhui province from 1290 to 1301. His main contribution was improving the speed of typesetting with simple mechanical devices, along with the complex, systematic arrangement of wooden movable types.

"Wooden movable type had been used and experimented with by Bi Sheng in the 11th century, but it was discarded because wood was judged to be an unsuitable material to use. Wang Zhen improved the earlier experimented process by adding the methods of specific type cutting and finishing, making the type case and revolving table that made the process more efficient. In Wang Zhen's system, all the Chinese writing characters were organized by five different tones and according to rhyming, using a standard official book of Chinese rhymes. Two revolving tables were actually used in the process; one table that had official types from the book of rhymes, and the other which contained the most frequently used Chinese writing characters for quick selection.

To make the entire process more efficient, each Chinese character was assigned a different number, so that when a number was called, that writing character would be selected. Rare and unusual characters that were not prescribed a number were simply crafted on the spot by wood-cutters when needed.

Wang Zhen's wooden movable type was used to print the local gazetteer paper of Jingde City, which incorporated the use of 60,000 written characters organized on revolving tables. During the year of 1298, roughly one hundred copies of this were printed by wooden movable type in a month's time.


First Japanese Book Printed from Movable Type

In 1593, in the wake of the Japanese invasion of Korea, a printing press with movable type was sent from Korea as a present for Emperor Go-Yōzei, and that same year he commanded that it be used to print an edition of the Confucian Kobun Kokyo (Classic of Filial Piety).


The Sibyllenbuch Fragment, the Earliest Surviving Remnant of Any European Book Printed by Movable Type.

The Sibyllenbuch fragment is a partial book leaf which may be the earliest surviving remnant of any European book that was printed using movable type.

The British Library's on-line Incunabula Short Title Catalogue dates the Sibyllenbuch fragment to "about 1452–53", making it older than any other example of European movable-type printing, including the c. 1454 Gutenberg Bible. The Sibyllenbuch fragment consists of a partial paper leaf printed in German using Gothic letter. It is owned by the Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, Germany. The fragment was discovered in 1892 in an old bookbinding in Mainz.

The text on the fragment relates to the Last Judgment and therefore sometimes is also called "Das Weltgericht" (German for "Last Judgment"). The text is part of a fourteenth-century poem of 1040 lines known as the "Sibyllenbuch" (Book of the Sibyls) containing "prophecies concerning the fate of the Holy Roman Empire".

Fragment of the Sibyllenbuch


A Bronze Type Font of 100,000 Pieces and Later 200,000 Pieces

In Korea a set of 100,000 copper types were cast by command of the king in 1403. Roughly thirty years later, in 1434 the king of Korea ordered the Publications Office to cast a new and improved bronze font of 200,000 pieces of type named Kabin-Ja (Kabinja). These were used for printing "many books" in Korea until 1544.

"This momentous event in Korean typographical history is recorded in the Yi Dynasty Annals and in the Third Foreword to the Yoktae janggam bakui of 1437. These accounts state the that the king, regretting that the type in use, though beautiful, was difficult to read because of the small size of the characters, suggested that a new font be cast from written characters of a larger size. Within two months more than 200,000 were cast, so clear and exact that it was possible to print more than forty sheets per day"


Nicolas Jensen's Will: the First Concrete Evidence of the Existence of Matrices for the Casting of Type Fonts.

In September 1480, printer and typographer Nicolas Jenson died in Venice. His detailed will made provisions for the continuation of his printing business, and is therefore significant for the history of printing. Among Jensen's bequests were his punches and matrices for casting type fonts. His will is the first concrete reference in a document of the existence of matrices for casting type fonts, as there were no manuals on printing published until the seventeenth century. 

"Graphic Communications Through the Ages" commemorates significant milestones in the history of communications technologies: the development of paper and character forms, typography design, and printing. The paintings were commissioned in 1966 by the Kimberly-Clark Corporation of Neenah, Wisconsin, who employed three internationally-known historical illustrators to produce the series: Robert A. Thom (1915-1979), Douglas M. Parrish (1922-2001), and George I. Parrish, Jr.(1930-1992).

Nicholas Jenson, 1470, 1966-1971 was painting number 7 in a series of 24


Choe Yun-ui was a Korean politician, publisher, and writer during the Goryeo Dynasty who printed the Buddhist text called Sangjeong Gogeum Yemun using bronze movable type. By most definitions, this was the earliest printing press in the world. Printing the book was an arduous project, but the 50-volume text was successfully printed by 1250, and bronze movable type caught on. While there's a record of these early texts existing, the first books made with metal movable type have been lost. The oldest text printed with movable type to have survived to today is Jikji, another Buddhist text that was printed in 1377.  This was certified by UNESCO as the world's oldest extant publication printed with movable metal type.

Jikji, the oldest existing book printed with movable metal type, made in 1377.


Roots of knowledge Project
Roots of Knowledge is a permanent stained glass display completed in 2016 at Utah Valley University (UVU) in Orem, Utah, United States. This 200 ft long mural chronicling human innovation throughout time and cultures was a herculean effort that the UK's Guardian Newspaper referred to as, "one of the most spectacular stained glass windows made in the past century."

This particular panel shows movable type, Jikji and type wheel. The text for each is as follows
Little is known of Bi Sheng (990 - 1051) beyond that he was commoner who made inventions that effectively reshaped Chinese history and made a huge impact on mankind's pursuit of knowledge.

In the mid-11th century, Bi Sheng developed a systematic form of moveable type using characters of baked clay, similar to Chinese porcelain. Text was pressed into paper using the type and iron plates. Descriptions of the type and printing process were recorded by Shen Kuo in Dream Pool Essays. Many of Bi Sheng's prints were made for Emperor Renzong of the Song dynasty.

The first moveable type was made of clay (later wood and metal) and developed in China as early as 1040. Moveable type was a revolutionary invention that paved the way for mass literacy. Here the printers are working on Jikji, the oldest known book printed with moveable metal type. This Korean Buddhist text was printed in 1377. The full title of Jikji, in English, is Anthology of Great Buddhist Priests' Zen Teachings.

Wang Chen (active 1290 - 1333) invented this revolving table to organize pieces of moveable type for efficient typesetting. As described in Wang's treatise, the table measured about 2.1 meters (7 ft) in diameter and was supported by a central leg about 0.9 meters (3 ft) tall.

Because the Chinese language is written with logograms (symbols that represent words or morphemes) rather than an alphabet and because common characters often appeared multiple times on a page of text, a set of moveable type included tens of thousands of pieces.

On one rotating table, characters were divided up according to rhyming categories and tones. On the other, various forms of commonly used characters were arranged for quick access. Each character was assigned a number. One worker called out the necessary numbers from a list while another selected the correct characters from the tables.


Issued in 1995 in a series 1992~1996 - Inventions and Discoveries
5 Yuan coin (Oriental Inventions - Individual block printing) 0.9000 Silver 0.6429 oz. ASW

In the background can be seen a type wheel.


50 yuan coin in same series
0.9990 Gold 0.4995 oz. AGW


Issued in 1988 25 Dollars (Sunken Ship Treasures of the Caribbean Series. Engraved printing block)

Obverse: Crowned head right, date; ELIZABETH THE SECOND••• BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS •1988•
Reverse: Engraved printing block, value; TWENTY FIVE DOLLARS


China test banknotes - Four great inventions in ancient China - compass, printing, gunpowder & papermaking
This is the movable type note.   Apologies for image, this is the best I could find


Laurens Coster and his movable type appeared on a Spar Matchbox cover from 1965


Der Schriftgießer - TheTypefounder.   Card from Tenglemann    mid 1930's

Quick Reply

Please leave this box empty:
Type the letters shown in the picture
Listen to the letters / Request another image

Type the letters shown in the picture:

Shortcuts: ALT+S post or ALT+P preview

Printers' Tales - Over 30 stories from the pre-digital age. Buy now on Amazon/Apple Books

☛ Don't miss our illustrated newsletters. Click here to see examples and subscribe. ☚