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THE

HISTORY

OF

PRINTING.

PUBLISHED UNDER THE DIRECTION OF
THE COMMITTEE OF GENERAL LITERATURE AND EDUCATION
APPOINTED BY THE SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING
CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE.

LONDON:

PRINTED FOR THE

SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE;
SOLD AT THE DEPOSITORIES,

GREAT QUEEN STREET, LINCOLN'S INN FIELDS;

4, ROYAL EXCHANGE; 16, HANOVER STREET, HANOVER SQUARE;
AND BY ALL BOOKSELLERS.

1855.

12 AUG 1954

LIBRARY

LONDON: PRINTED BY W. CLOWES AND SONS, STAMFORD STREET.

HISTORY OF PRINTING.

Printing is the art of taking impressions, from characters or figures, on paper, linen, silk, and other fabrics. There are several kinds of printing; from moveable letters, and from metal casts obtained from them, for books; from engravings on wood and metal, for pictures; from blocks, on which birds, flowers, and designs are cut, or from rollers on which they are impressed, for printing calico, linen, paper-hangings, &c.; from letters and drawings sketched upon stone, coated with grease, called lithography; and, finally, the newlyinvented art of natural printing, which consists in stamping natural objects, such as leaves, feathers, and flowers, upon sheets or rollers of metal in a softened state, and printing from these rollers on paper. But though the above is the technical definition of printing, a much wider meaning is generally given to the term. "The essence of printing, are told by an able writer, "is the production

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of a copy by pressure." In this sense, then, to seal a letter is to print upon wax, and to coin or stamp money is to print upon gold, or silver, or copper, or whatever may be the substance used.

The early Egyptians were the earliest printers; for they printed inscriptions on bricks; and some of the stamps which they used for the purpose now form part of the antiquarian treasures of the British Museum. The people of Babylon also rudely practised the art more than two thousand years ago. Bricks are frequently found by persons engaged in excavating and exploring the gigantic ruins of the fallen city, bearing the name of Nebuchadnezzar stamped upon them. The manner in which this was done is known from its simplicity. The inscription, having been engraved on a piece of wood or stone, was stamped on the wet clay; and the brick formed by the clay was either dried in the sun or burnt in a kiln. The bricks were thus rendered so durable, that they have survived the city itself. This may be called clay printing, and probably was the first step in the art.*

The next was the use of the seal for making impressions. The earliest mention of a seal,

*The oldest and most authentic of all books, the Holy Bible, speaks of printing in Leviticus xix. 28: "Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you." This refers to the custom of tattooing. Again, Job says, "Oh that my words were now written, that they were printed in a book,” xix. 23.

let us premise, is found in the thirty-eighth chapter of Genesis. Three thousand five hundred years ago, Judah, one of the sons of Jacob, we are told, gave his seal or signet in pledge to Tamar. At that time, however, seals were not used to close letters, but instead of them. A seal was an emblem of authority, instead of the proof of the authenticity of a document. The first instance of the use of the seal in closing letters described in Holy Scripture, is in connexion with the wicked deeds of Jezebel, about nine hundred years before the birth of Christ. Ahab, king of Samaria, coveted the vineyard of Naboth, in Jezreel, desiring to make a herb garden of it, because it was near to his palace. Naboth refused to part with the vineyard, either for its worth in money or in exchange for a better one, because it was the inheritance which had descended to him from his father. Ahab was so mortified with disappointment, that he lay down upon his bed, turned away his face, and would not eat. Jezebel, his wife, asked him why he was so sad, and he con

The meaning of Job is clear from the words which follow:-"That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever." He wished that they might be registered in a book of record, and inscribed on a rock or pillar, according to the custom of ancient times. The translator has used the modern word "printed" to convey an ancient meaning; and it is calculated to deceive. Printers sometimes quote the words of Job in proof of the high antiquity of the art; it is obvious he meant something very different from modern printing.

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