THE BOOK TYPES I
The earliest printed books were produced from wooden blocks on which both the pictures and the text were cut. The printed pages were glued back to back & a collection of such leaves was bound together to form what we know as a block-book. These xylographic, or woodcut block-books date from early in the fifteenth century(circa 1420).
Such a laborious method of producing books undoubtedly spurred on the inventor or inventors in their search for an easier method of reproducing texts and thus of superseding the scribes. The Chinese were printing from movable metal types in the eleventh century but there is no connection between its invention in the East, and its appearance in Europe approximately four centuries later. Hundreds of works have been written with the aim of unravelling the mystery which surrounds the birth of the art in Europe yet none can name the inventor, nor the place or time of its invention. Despite the uncertainties of scholars some writers state categorically that the goldsmith Johann Gutenberg was its inventor & that Mainz, his birthplace, the home of its invention. But the rudiments of the art were known before he began his experiments. Gutenberg's genius lay, if not in inventing, then in perfecting the hand-mould in which types could be cast by the hundred in the course of a day thus making possible the production of books in quantities and at speeds undreamt of before his time.
It must be understood that the earliest printers were of necessity their own typefounders also--the two arts were not separated until about the year 1530.