Skip to main content
The Collation

modern adventures in printing

In keeping with the spirit of my last couple of posts, this one is also about printing, but this time as an activity that my students and I did in our Books and Early Modern Culture seminar. The Folger is lucky to have a small-scale replica hand press, thanks to the resourcefulness of Steve Galbraith, our former Curator of Books, who tracked down the work of a group of engineering students from Bucknell who had designed and built the press for a senior project, and who then built a second one for us. The Library’s used the press as part of exhibits, in demonstrations for Shakespeare’s Birthday celebration, and with students. Usually there’s only time for students to set their names in type and to print off a single broadside. But this time, I decided that there was room in the syllabus to try a bigger experiment: choosing a text, setting the type in a single-sheet folio format, and printing it off. My hope was that setting type in a multi-page format would drive home the sort of decisions that printers needed to make and the factors that could affect what a printed work looks like.  

  1. And now you know why upper case letters are called upper case and lower case letters called lower case!
  2. You might think it’s the date, but it’s not: this is the 4th year of the 44th President. It’s a little early modern regnal year joke.
  3. If you look closely at the photo, you’ll see that as we got near the end of our text we ran out of t’s, h’s, and a few other letters, and so had to resort to some odd spellings, an occasional word change, and the use of uppercase letters for lowercase ones.


Nice research about modern printing techniques. I love the way you present this case.

Ivry — March 13, 2022