Five Hundred Years of Printing

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

CHAPTER V
The postwar world

1967 saw the death of Stanley Morison and publication of his magnum opus, John Fell: the University Press and the Fell Types (Oxford University Press): a book the like of which we shall never see again.A folio of almost 300 pages, some of them in double columns, it was hand-set at the Press in the Fell types (as had been Horace Hart 's Notes on a Century of Typography at the University Press, Oxford of 1900). Eight pages at a time were set, proofed, printed and the type distributed so that the next eight pages could be set.This is one of the books of the century: no book of comparable beauty has since been produced.

Since 1967 the tools for writing and producing books have changed far more than they did in the preceding 500 years, and printing, publishing and bookselling have become in general — and of necessity — very much more businesslike. During this time there have been all too many pundits prophesying the death of the book and its replacement by electronic media. While it would be foolish, and pointless, to say Never! — and it is true that some reference material has sensibly been transferred to microfiche, CD-ROM and the Internet — in other respects traditional books are still with us, writers continue to write them and publishers and manufacturers to thrive, more or less.

One of the noblest monuments to nineteenth-century devotion to learning is the Oxford English Dictionary, the greatest dictionary of modern times (much of it written or edited by James Murray), which was published in parts between 1884 and 1928. Its complex design was hand-set from type cast at the Press and made over 16,000 pages: some compositors stayed with the Dictionary throughout their working lives.The printed version of the second edition was published in 1989: it took over 100 keyboarders 18 months, expanded the coverage from 400,000 to over 500,000 words and the extent to over 21,000 pages, and was set on a Monophoto Lasercomp.It has since been published as a CD-ROM, in which form (like the Encyclopedia Britannica) it is far cheaper than its parent book and — for those who have the facilities to use it — far easier to use.


I. COMPOSITION AND TYPESETTING

When this book was first published in 1955 almost all books were printed by letterpress. Exceptions were some illustrated books and some British editions of American books (or vice versa) photographed from the original setting — in both cases printed by offset lithography — and the occasional illustrated book printed by photogravure or collotype.In the succeeding decades book production (and its implications for publishers) changed radically.

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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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