Five Hundred Years of Printing

By S. H. Steinberg; John Trevitt | Go to book overview

Reviser's preface

'These were the five hundred years of the Printer' — so wrote Beatrice Warde in 1955, at the beginning of her foreword to the first Penguin edition of this book — 'the centuries in which there was his way, but no other way, of broadcasting identical messages to a thousand or more people, a thousand or more miles apart.' Note the capital P: for Beatrice Warde printing was a way of life.But despite the characteristic hyperbole, and give or take half a century or so, she was right, for there was no threat to the monopoly of the printed word and picture until the I920s and the arrival of broadcast radio. Forty more years have passed since 1955 and still there is nothing to suggest that the Printer is about to pass into history.

Sigfrid Henry Steinberg was born in Goslar in 1899. After serving briefly in the German army in 1918 he studied history, art history and German and English language and literature at the universities of Munich and Leipzig.In 1922 he took the degree of Ph.D. at Leipzig; his dissertation was entitled 'Das Urkunden Wesen des Goslarer Rates bis zur Mitte des 14. Jahrhunderts'. Subsequent employment included a spell with the publishing house of Brockhaus, where he worked on the illustration of reference books.

By 1934 Steinberg was beginning to feel uneasy about the direction in which Hitler and the Nazis were taking Germany, and to contemplate moving to England.This he achieved in 1936, when he was offered a research fellowship at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London.This enabled him to bring his family over to settle in England, where he threw himself into as much work as he could find, including giving evening classes in German, which resulted in A One-Year German Course (Macmillan). By 1939, when this was published, he had also signed an agreement with Macmillan for his Historical Tables. After a brief spell of internment in 1940 Steinberg sent yet another proposal to Macmillan, no less than a plan to modernize their German schoolbook list, and then spent several happy years as a schoolmaster at Sedbergh before ending the war as British liaison officer with the American Office of War Information.Despite being the first passenger in the history of British railways to be shot by a fog detonator, he became a naturalized British citizen and remained in Britain until his death in 1969.

'This was the epoch that we have been calling "modern times"', wrote Warde; and the invention of printing from movable types in Mainz in the early 1450s might well head any synoptic table of world events in the modern period. Steinberg edited the Historical Tables from first publication in 1939 up to its eighth edition in 1966, while simultaneously editing The Statesman's Year-Book ( 1946-69) and Cassell's Encyclo

-vii-

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Five Hundred Years of Printing
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Five Hundred Years of Printing *
  • Contents v
  • Reviser''s Preface vii
  • Introduction i
  • Chapter I- The First Century of Printing 1450-1550 3
  • Chapter II- The Era of Consolidation 1550-1800 74
  • Chapter III- The Nineteenth Century 1800-1900 136
  • Chapter IV- 1900-1955 170
  • Chapter V- The Postwar World 218
  • Conclusion 250
  • Select Bibliography 251
  • Index 255
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