Tuesday, May 11, 2010

19th Century Printing Press in the Village

The Village also boasts a working printing office, with printers who typeset and print the same way it was done in the 19th century.

A print shop the size the museum has, would have employed 3- 4 people. One would have been the owner, with 2 apprentices and very often, a journeyman printer who would travel from town to town spending 3-4 months at a time in different shops. The apprentices would be fed and housed by the printer and his family but would receive no remuneration from the printer, as learning the craft was considered payment for his services. In 1840 a good printer would have been able to set about 250 words per hour.

The printer's equipment in the village consists of a mid 19th-century Washington type press, many cases of antique typefaces and woodcuts, a proof press and many other early items obtained from area print shops.

Although movable type revolutionized the world, printmaking was still a painstaking process. Hand setting was used up until about 1890. The 30 rules for the Romulus Female Seminary that were produced by our printing office, represent 12-16 hours of work on the part of the printer for the typesetting alone. Add to that the fact that with chilly weather, the type takes a while to warm up, and the materials produced in our village become artwork as well as functional pieces. We create and print between 40-50 pieces material in the Printing Office per year.
1/2 of the 30 typeset rules

Old News

Since copyright laws were not what they are today, a printer publishing a newspaper would subscribe to various other newspapers across the country and around the world and re-print articles that they found interesting or relevant. An example of a Rochester newspaper that hangs in the printing office dated November has stories in it that date back to June of the same year.

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