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The Design of Printing

Can you just imagine for a moment, a time when people only communicated verbally or with hand signals? Who was the first person who thought, “Geez I need to write this down or I’m going to forget?!” What was that thought process like?

Well it looks like way back in 3000 BC or earlier, someone was thinking about it because that’s when the Mesopotamians used round cylinder seals for rolling  impressions of images onto clay tablets. In other early societies, China and Egypt, small stamps were being used to print on cloth. So begins the discovery and journey of images and the written word on a page.

In the second century AD, a Chinese eunuch court official named Ts’ai Lun with inventing paper. I’m sure the scrapbookers of today are very happy about that invention! Later in the 15th century, woodcut comes along which is a relief printing technique in which text and images are carved into the surface of wood block which is then inked and pressed into the block. And how about that Gutenberg fella who lived in the 1400’s. Let’s give him a round of applause because he took it upon himself to start working on a printing press, taking him four years to finish. The first thing he printed was Bibles. 

Let’s move on to what was a huge PR nightmare which happened in the 17th century when printers, Robert Barker and Martin Lucas are fined and have their printing license revoked because their version of the Bible left out the word “not” in Exodus 20:14. The  Scripture read, “thou shall commit adultery”. This version of the Bible is called The Wicked Bible, the Adulterous Bible or the Sinner’s Bible. Goes to show that proofing is just as important as the design of your work!!

So if you really wanted to, you could boil it all down to seven different stages: woodblock, movable-type, rotary press, offset printing, linotype, laser and now, 3-D printers. 

It’s hard to imagine that the design of print has come as far as it has from early scratchings on a wall to the ability to print parts of a heart which really works and can save someone’s life. Who would have ever thought such a thing was possible so many thousands of years ago?

Check these links out for more detail to the design of print!

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