In the basement of Swem Library is a room used mostly for storage. Along two walls are machines and wooden cases full of drawers. The machines are printing presses and the cases are filled with type – individual letters cast in metal, designed to be set by hand and printed on the machines. The basic principle–of metal type used in a press–was a technology in use for five hundred years in the West, from the mid-fifteenth century until the twentieth. Now, however, our printing is done by different machines, with jets of ink replacing the metal letters of the past. An upcoming exhibition at Swem Library examines printing from the early days to the present, using some actual equipment, as well as early modern rare books and modern day private press books, all from Special Collections.
SCRC has an active instruction schedule during the academic year, as professors from all departments bring their students in to see the amazing materials housed in Special Collections. However, many may be surprised to learn that SCRC houses objects, texts, and ephemera related to virtually every discipline.This week included a reminder of how rich a collection we have related to the arts. Professor Brian Kreydatus brought in his ART324 Relief Printmaking class to view the vast array of materials we have pertaining to the book arts and printmaking.
One of the titles we will be showing in two upcoming instruction sessions this week, the 1483 Leaves from the Ninth German Bible (Biblia Nona Germanica), is the only one of our nine titles printed before 1500 that is in a language other than Latin. It was printed by Anton Koberger (1440-1513), a goldsmith, printer, publisher and bookseller in Nuernberg. By the end of the 15th century, Koberger’s business is believed to have been one of the most important printing shops in Europe.