Movable type

Movable type

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Movable type is the system of printing
Printing
Printing is a process for reproducing text and image, typically with ink on paper using a printing press. It is often carried out as a large-scale industrial process, and is an essential part of publishing and transaction printing....

 and typography
Typography
Typography is the art and technique of arranging type in order to make language visible. The arrangement of type involves the selection of typefaces, point size, line length, leading , adjusting the spaces between groups of letters and adjusting the space between pairs of letters...

 that uses movable components
Sort (typesetting)
In typesetting by hand compositing, a sort is a piece of type representing a particular letter or symbol, cast from a matrix mould and assembled with other sorts bearing additional letters into lines of type to make up a forme from which a page is printed.-See also:* History of western typography*...

 to reproduce the elements of a document (usually individual letters or punctuation).

The world's first known movable-type system for printing was created in China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 around 1040 AD by Bi Sheng
Bi Sheng
Bì Shēng was the inventor of the first known movable type technology. Bi Sheng's system was made of Chinese porcelain and was invented between 1041 and 1048 in China.-Movable type printing:...

 (990–1051) during the Song Dynasty
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

; then the first metal movable-type system for printing was made in Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

 during the Goryeo Dynasty (around 1230). This led to the printing of the Jikji
Jikji
Jikji is the abbreviated title of a Korean Buddhist document, whose title can be translated "Anthology of Great Buddhist Priests' Zen Teachings". Printed during the Goryeo Dynasty in 1377, it is the world's oldest extant movable metal print book...

 in 1377—today the oldest extant movable metal print book. The diffusion of both movable-type systems was, however, limited: They were expensive, and required an enormous amount of labour involved in manipulating the thousands of ceramic tablets, or in the case of Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

, metal
Metal
A metal , is an element, compound, or alloy that is a good conductor of both electricity and heat. Metals are usually malleable and shiny, that is they reflect most of incident light...

 tablets.

Around 1450, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press
Printing press
A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium , thereby transferring the ink...

 and independently developed a movable type system in Europe, along with innovations in casting the type based on a matrix
Matrix (printing)
In hot metal typesetting, a matrix is a mold for casting a letter, known as a sort, used in letterpress printing....

 and hand mould
Hand mould
A hand mould is a simple mould used for low quantity work. It is used in the injection moulding and the printing industry.-Printing:In the printing industry, a hand mould specifically refers to a two-part mould used for casting hand-made type...

. Gutenberg was the first to create his type pieces from an alloy of lead
Lead
Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed...

, tin
Tin
Tin is a chemical element with the symbol Sn and atomic number 50. It is a main group metal in group 14 of the periodic table. Tin shows chemical similarity to both neighboring group 14 elements, germanium and lead and has two possible oxidation states, +2 and the slightly more stable +4...

 and antimony
Antimony
Antimony is a toxic chemical element with the symbol Sb and an atomic number of 51. A lustrous grey metalloid, it is found in nature mainly as the sulfide mineral stibnite...

—the same components still used today.

Compared to woodblock printing
Woodblock printing
Woodblock printing is a technique for printing text, images or patterns used widely throughout East Asia and originating in China in antiquity as a method of printing on textiles and later paper....

, movable-type pagesetting was quicker and more durable for alphabetic scripts. The metal type pieces were more durable and the lettering was more uniform, leading to typography and font
Font
In typography, a font is traditionally defined as a quantity of sorts composing a complete character set of a single size and style of a particular typeface...

s. The high quality and relatively low price of the Gutenberg Bible
Gutenberg Bible
The Gutenberg Bible was the first major book printed with a movable type printing press, and marked the start of the "Gutenberg Revolution" and the age of the printed book. Widely praised for its high aesthetic and artistic qualities, the book has an iconic status...

 (1455) established the superiority of movable type and printing press
Printing press
A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium , thereby transferring the ink...

es rapidly spread across Europe. The printing press can be regarded as one of the key factors leading up to the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

  and due to its effectiveness it later was used all around the world.

Today, practically all movable-type printing ultimately derives from Gutenberg's movable-type printing, which is often regarded as the most important invention of the second millennium.

Letterpunch



The technique of imprinting multiple copies of symbol
Symbol
A symbol is something which represents an idea, a physical entity or a process but is distinct from it. The purpose of a symbol is to communicate meaning. For example, a red octagon may be a symbol for "STOP". On a map, a picture of a tent might represent a campsite. Numerals are symbols for...

s or glyph
Glyph
A glyph is an element of writing: an individual mark on a written medium that contributes to the meaning of what is written. A glyph is made up of one or more graphemes....

s with a master type punch made of hard metal first developed around 3000 BC in ancient Sumer
Sumer
Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age....

. Brick
Brick
A brick is a block of ceramic material used in masonry construction, usually laid using various kinds of mortar. It has been regarded as one of the longest lasting and strongest building materials used throughout history.-History:...

s for buildings and bars or ingot
Ingot
An ingot is a material, usually metal, that is cast into a shape suitable for further processing. Non-metallic and semiconductor materials prepared in bulk form may also be referred to as ingots, particularly when cast by mold based methods.-Uses:...

s of precious metal
Precious metal
A precious metal is a rare, naturally occurring metallic chemical element of high economic value.Chemically, the precious metals are less reactive than most elements, have high lustre, are softer or more ductile, and have higher melting points than other metals...

 were imprinted with a distinctive stamped design; the act of stamping the ingots certified them as currency by the power of the authority symbolized by the type image. These metal punch types can be seen as precursors of the letter punches adapted in later millennia to printing with movable metal type. Cylinder seal
Cylinder seal
A cylinder seal is a cylinder engraved with a 'picture story', used in ancient times to roll an impression onto a two-dimensional surface, generally wet clay. Cylinder seals were invented around 3500 BC in the Near East, at the contemporary site of Susa in south-western Iran and at the early site...

s were also used to "sign" documents and mark objects as the owner's property.

By 650 BC the ancient Greeks were using larger diameter punches to imprint small page images onto coin
Coin
A coin is a piece of hard material that is standardized in weight, is produced in large quantities in order to facilitate trade, and primarily can be used as a legal tender token for commerce in the designated country, region, or territory....

s and tokens
Token coin
In the study of numismatics, tokens are coin-like objects used instead of coins. The field of tokens is part of exonumia. Tokens are used in place of coins and either have a denomination shown or implied by size, color or shape...

. Cylinder seals were a related form of early typography capable of printing small page designs in relief (cameo) on wax or clay—a miniature forerunner of rotogravure printing
Rotogravure
Rotogravure is a type of intaglio printing process; that is, it involves engraving the image onto an image carrier...

 used by wealthy individuals to seal and certify documents.

The designs
Graphic design
Graphic design is a creative process – most often involving a client and a designer and usually completed in conjunction with producers of form – undertaken in order to convey a specific message to a targeted audience...

 of the artists who made the first coin punches were stylized with a degree of skill that could not be mistaken for common handiwork—salient and very specific types designed to be reproduced ad infinitum
Ad infinitum
Ad infinitum is a Latin phrase meaning "to infinity."In context, it usually means "continue forever, without limit" and thus can be used to describe a non-terminating process, a non-terminating repeating process, or a set of instructions to be repeated "forever," among other uses...

. Unlike the first typefaces used to print books in the 13th century, coin types were neither combined nor printed with ink
Ink
Ink is a liquid or paste that contains pigments and/or dyes and is used to color a surface to produce an image, text, or design. Ink is used for drawing and/or writing with a pen, brush, or quill...

 on paper
Paper
Paper is a thin material mainly used for writing upon, printing upon, drawing or for packaging. It is produced by pressing together moist fibers, typically cellulose pulp derived from wood, rags or grasses, and drying them into flexible sheets....

, but "published" in metal—a more durable medium—and survived in substantial numbers. As the portable face of ruling authority, coins were a compact form of standardized knowledge issued in large editions, an early mass medium that stabilized trade and civilization throughout the Mediterranean
Mediterranean Basin
In biogeography, the Mediterranean Basin refers to the lands around the Mediterranean Sea that have a Mediterranean climate, with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers, which supports characteristic Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub vegetation...

 world of antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

.

Phaistos Disc



The enigmatic Minoan
Minoan civilization
The Minoan civilization was a Bronze Age civilization that arose on the island of Crete and flourished from approximately the 27th century BC to the 15th century BC. It was rediscovered at the beginning of the 20th century through the work of the British archaeologist Arthur Evans...

 Phaistos Disc of 1800–1600 BC has been considered by one scholar as an early example of a body of text being reproduced with reusable characters: it may have been produced by pressing pre-formed hieroglyphic "seals" into the soft clay. A few authors even view the disc as technically meeting all definitional criteria to represent an early, if not the earliest incidence of movable-type printing. Recently it has been alleged by Dr. Jerome Eisenberg that the disk is a forgery.

Woodblock printing


Following the invention of paper in the Han Dynasty, writing materials became more portable and economical than the bones, shells, bamboo slips, metal or stone tablets, silk, etc. previously used. Yet copying books by hand was still labour-consuming. Not until the Xiping Era (172-178 AD) towards the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty did sealing print and monotype appear. It was soon used for printing designs on fabrics, and later for printing texts.

Woodblock printing worked as follows. First, the neat hand-copied script was stuck on a relatively thick and smooth board, with the front of the paper, which was so thin that it was nearly transparent, sticking to the board, and characters showing in opposite, so distinctly that every stroke could be easily recognized. Then, carvers cut the parts with no character off the board with knives, so that the characters were cut in relief, completely different from those cut in intaglio. When printing, the bulging characters would have some ink spread on them and be covered by paper. With workers’ hands moving on the back of paper gently, characters would be printed on the paper. By the Song Dynasty, woodblock printing
Woodblock printing
Woodblock printing is a technique for printing text, images or patterns used widely throughout East Asia and originating in China in antiquity as a method of printing on textiles and later paper....

 came to its heyday. Although woodblock printing played an influential role in spreading culture, there were still some apparent drawbacks. Firstly, carving the printing plate cost too much time and too much labour and materials; secondly, it was not convenient to store these plates; and finally, it was difficult to correct mistakes.

With woodblock printing, one printing plate could be used for tens of hundreds of books, playing a magnificent role in spreading culture. Yet carving the plate was time and labour consuming. Huge books cost years of effort. The plates needed a lot of storage space, and were often damaged by deformation, worms and corrosion. If books had a small print run, and were not reprinted, the printing plates would become nothing but waste; and worse, if a mistake was found, it was difficult to correct it without discarding the whole plate.

History of Movable type



Prior to the development of metal movable type, most printing was done using blocks carved from wood. Woodblock printing
Woodblock printing
Woodblock printing is a technique for printing text, images or patterns used widely throughout East Asia and originating in China in antiquity as a method of printing on textiles and later paper....

 was used extensively in East Asia, and created the world's first print culture
Print culture
Print culture embodies all forms of printed text and other printed forms of visual communication. One prominent scholar in the field is Elizabeth Eisenstein, who contrasted print culture, which appeared in Europe in the centuries after the advent of the Western printing-press , to scribal culture...

.

Ceramic movable type


The first known movable-type system for printing using ceramic materials was created in China around 1040 AD by Bi Sheng
Bi Sheng
Bì Shēng was the inventor of the first known movable type technology. Bi Sheng's system was made of Chinese porcelain and was invented between 1041 and 1048 in China.-Movable type printing:...

 (990–1051). As described by the Chinese scholar Shen Kuo
Shen Kuo
Shen Kuo or Shen Gua , style name Cunzhong and pseudonym Mengqi Weng , was a polymathic Chinese scientist and statesman of the Song Dynasty...

 (1031–1095):
When he wished to print, he took an iron frame and set it on the iron plate. In this he placed the types, set close together. When the frame was full, the whole made one solid block of type. He then placed it near the fire to warm it. When the paste [at the back] was slightly melted, he took a smooth board and pressed it over the surface, so that the block of type became as even as a whetstone.

For each character there were several types, and for certain common characters there were twenty or more types each, in order to be prepared for the repetition of characters on the same page. When the characters were not in use he had them arranged with paper labels, one label for each rhyme-group, and kept them in wooden cases.

If one were to print only two or three copies, this method would be neither simple nor easy. But for printing hundreds or thousands of copies, it was marvelously quick. As a rule he kept two forms going. While the impression was being made from the one form, the type was being put in place on the other. When the printing of the one form was finished, the other was then ready. In this way the two forms alternated and the printing was done with great rapidity.


In 1193, Zhou Bida, an officer of Southern Song Dynasty, made a set of clay movable-type method according to the method described by Shen Kuo in his Dream Pool Essays
Dream Pool Essays
The Dream Pool Essays was an extensive book written by the polymath Chinese scientist and statesman Shen Kuo by 1088 AD, during the Song Dynasty of China...

, and printed his book Notes of The Jade Hall 《玉堂杂记》.

As late as 1844 there were still books printed in China with clay movable types. However, Bi Sheng's fragile clay types were not practical for large-scale printing. Sohn Pow-Key claimed that Bi Sheng's baked clay was "fragile" was refuted by facts and experiments, Bao Shicheng(1775–1885) wrote that baked clay moveable type was "as hard and tough as horn"; experiments show that baked clay moveable type is hard and difficult to break, a clay moveable type dropped from a height of two metres onto a marble floor remained intact. Korea could have tried clay movable type, but with little success, probably due to misinterpration of Shen Kua's description "as thin as coin", which referred to the depth of the mould, not the total length of the moveable type. The length of clay movable types in China was 1 to 2 centimetres, not 2mm, thus hard as horn.

Wooden movable type



Wooden movable type was also first developed around 1040 AD by Bi Sheng
Bi Sheng
Bì Shēng was the inventor of the first known movable type technology. Bi Sheng's system was made of Chinese porcelain and was invented between 1041 and 1048 in China.-Movable type printing:...

 (毕昇) (990–1051), as described by the Chinese scholar Shen Kuo (1031–1095), but was abandoned in favour of clay movable types due to the presence of wood grains and the unevenness of the wooden type after being soaked in ink. In 1298, Wang Zhen
Wang Zhen (official)
Wang Zhen was an official of the Yuan Dynasty of China. He is credited with the invention of the first wooden movable type printing in the world, while his predecessor of the Song Dynasty , Bi Sheng , invented the world's first earthenware movable type printing...

, a governmental official of Jingde, Anhui
Anhui
Anhui is a province in the People's Republic of China. Located in eastern China across the basins of the Yangtze River and the Huai River, it borders Jiangsu to the east, Zhejiang to the southeast, Jiangxi to the south, Hubei to the southwest, Henan to the northwest, and Shandong for a tiny...

 province, China, re-invented a method of making movable wooden types. He made more than 30,000 wooden movable types and printed 100 copies of Records of Jingde County (旌德县志), a book of more than 60,000 Chinese characters. Soon afterwards, he summarized his invention in his book A method of making moveable wooden types for printing books. Although the wooden type was more durable under the mechanical rigors of handling, repeated printing wore the character faces down, and the types could only be replaced by carving new pieces. This system was later enhanced by pressing wooden blocks into sand and casting metal types from the depression in copper, bronze, iron or tin. The set of wafer-like metal stamp types could be assembled to form pages, inked, and page impressions taken from rubbings on cloth or paper. In 1322,a Fenghua county officer Ma Chengde(马称德) in Zhejiang, made 100,000 wooded movable types and printed 43 volume Daxue Yanyi (大学衍义). Wooden movable types were used continually in China. Even as late as 1733, a 2300 volume, 《武英殿聚珍版丛书》, was printed with 253500 wooden movable type on order of the Yongzheng Emperor
Yongzheng Emperor
The Yongzheng Emperor , born Yinzhen , was the fifth emperor of the Manchu Qing Dynasty and the third Qing emperor from 1722 to 1735. A hard-working ruler, Yongzheng's main goal was to create an effective government at minimal expense. Like his father, the Kangxi Emperor, Yongzheng used military...

, and completed in one year.

A number of books printed in Tangut script
Tangut script
The Tangut script was a logographic writing system, used for writing the extinct Tangut language of the Western Xia Dynasty. According to the latest count, 5863 Tangut characters are known, excluding variants...

 during the Western Xia (1038–1227) period are known, of which the Auspicious Tantra of All-Reaching Union
Auspicious Tantra of All-Reaching Union
The Auspicious Tantra of All-Reaching Union is the title of a set of nine volumes of Buddhist printed texts written in the Tangut language and script which was discovered in the ruins of the Baisigou Square Pagoda in Helan County, Ningxia, China in 1991 after it...

 that was discovered in the ruins of Baisigou Square Pagoda
Baisigou Square Pagoda
Baisigou Square Pagoda was a brick pagoda in Helan County, Ningxia, China, built during the Western Xia period . It is situated in an isolated location about 10 km into the Baisigou Valley on the eastern side of the Helan Mountains, northwest of Yinchuan, but may have been the site of an...

 in 1991 is believed to have been printed sometime during the reign of Emperor Renzong of Western Xia
Emperor Renzong of Western Xia
Emperor Renzong , born Li Renxiao, was the 5th emperor of the Western Xia dynasty .Li Renxiao was the eldest son of Emperor Chongzong, and succeeded him at the age of sixteen. After ascending into the throne, Renzong made friendly overtures to the Jin Dynasty...

 (1139–1193). It is considered by many Chinese experts to be the earliest extant example of a book printed using wooden movable type. Wooden type was used again during the later parts of the 19th century. At some point during the Industrial Revolution, the usage of wooden movable type was made popular again (a printer named Darius Wells used it extensively) for poster designs since wooden types were more economical, lighter, and efficient than metal type .

Metal movable type


Transition from wood type to metal type occurred in 1234 during the Goryeo Dynasty of Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

 and is credited to Choe Yun-ui
Choe Yun-ui
Choe Yun-ui was a Korean civil minister during the Goryeo Dynasty. Choe Yun-ui compiled the Sangjeong yemun with another 16 scholars. They collected all courtesies from ancient to present and published 50 copies....

. A set of ritual books, Sangjeong Gogeum Yemun were printed with the movable metal type in 1234.
Examples of this metal type are on display in the Asian Reading Room of the Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

 in Washington, D.C. The oldest extant movable metal print book is the Jikji
Jikji
Jikji is the abbreviated title of a Korean Buddhist document, whose title can be translated "Anthology of Great Buddhist Priests' Zen Teachings". Printed during the Goryeo Dynasty in 1377, it is the world's oldest extant movable metal print book...

, printed in Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

 in 1377.

The techniques for bronze casting, used at the time for making coins (as well as bells and statues) were adapted to making metal type. The following description of the Korean font casting process was recorded by the Joseon dynasty
Joseon Dynasty
Joseon , was a Korean state founded by Taejo Yi Seong-gye that lasted for approximately five centuries. It was founded in the aftermath of the overthrow of the Goryeo at what is today the city of Kaesong. Early on, Korea was retitled and the capital was relocated to modern-day Seoul...

 scholar Seong Hyeon (성현, 成俔, 1439–1504):
At first, one cuts letters in beech wood. One fills a trough level with fine sandy [clay] of the reed-growing seashore. Wood-cut letters are pressed into the sand, then the impressions become negative and form letters [molds]. At this step, placing one trough together with another, one pours the molten bronze down into an opening. The fluid flows in, filling these negative molds, one by one becoming type. Lastly, one scrapes and files off the irregularities, and piles them up to be arranged.


A potential solution to the linguistic and cultural bottleneck that held back movable type in Korea for two hundred years appeared in the early 15th century—a generation before Gutenberg would begin working on his own movable-type invention in Europe—when King Sejong the Great
Sejong the Great of Joseon
Sejong the Great was the fourth king of the Joseon Dynasty of Korea. During his regency, he reinforced Korean Confucian policies and executed major legal amendments . He also used the creation of Hangul and the advancement of technology to expand his territory...

 devised a simplified alphabet
Alphabet
An alphabet is a standard set of letters—basic written symbols or graphemes—each of which represents a phoneme in a spoken language, either as it exists now or as it was in the past. There are other systems, such as logographies, in which each character represents a word, morpheme, or semantic...

 of 24 characters (hangul
Hangul
Hangul,Pronounced or ; Korean: 한글 Hangeul/Han'gŭl or 조선글 Chosŏn'gŭl/Joseongeul the Korean alphabet, is the native alphabet of the Korean language. It is a separate script from Hanja, the logographic Chinese characters which are also sometimes used to write Korean...

) for use by the common people, which could have made the typecasting and compositing process more feasible. But Sejong's brilliant creation did not receive the attention it deserved. Adoption of the new alphabet was stifled by the inertia of Korea's cultural elite, who were "...appalled at the idea of losing Chinese, the badge of their elitism."

Proliferation of movable type was also obstructed by a "Confucian
Confucianism
Confucianism is a Chinese ethical and philosophical system developed from the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius . Confucianism originated as an "ethical-sociopolitical teaching" during the Spring and Autumn Period, but later developed metaphysical and cosmological elements in the Han...

 prohibition on the commercialization of printing" restricted the distribution of books produced using the new method to the government. The technique was restricted to use by the royal foundry for official state publications only, where the focus was on reprinting Chinese classics lost in 1126 when Korea's libraries and palaces had perished in a conflict between dynasties.

In the early fifteenth century, however, the Koreans invented a form of movable type that has been described by the French scholar Henri-Jean Martin as '[extremely similar] to Gutenberg's'; the Western invention may have been stimulated by what had happened in the East.

Metal movable type elsewhere in Asia



In the beginning of 12th century, movable type was used in large scale for the printing of paper money issued by the Northern Song Dynasty. A copper block printed paper money dated between 1215-1216 in the collection of Luo Zhenyu
Luo Zhenyu
Luo Zhenyu , courtesy name: Shuyun was a Chinese classical scholar, philologist, epigrapher, antiquarian and Qing loyalist.-Biography:...

's Pictorial Paper Money of the Four Dynasties, 1914, shows two special characters one called Ziliao, the other called Zihao for the purpose of preventing counterfeit; over the Ziliao there is a small character (輶) printed with movable copper type, while over the Zihao there is an empty square hole, apparently the associated copper metal type was lost. Another sample of Song dynasty money of the same period in the collection of Shanghai Museum has two empty square holes above Ziliao as well as Zihou, due to lost of the two copper movable types. Song dynasty bronze block embedded with bronze metal movable type printed paper money was issued in large scale and in circulation for a long time.
In the 1298 book Zao Huozi Yinshufa (造活字印书法/造活字印書法) of the Chinese official Wang Zhen
Wang Zhen (official)
Wang Zhen was an official of the Yuan Dynasty of China. He is credited with the invention of the first wooden movable type printing in the world, while his predecessor of the Song Dynasty , Bi Sheng , invented the world's first earthenware movable type printing...

, there is mention of tin
Tin
Tin is a chemical element with the symbol Sn and atomic number 50. It is a main group metal in group 14 of the periodic table. Tin shows chemical similarity to both neighboring group 14 elements, germanium and lead and has two possible oxidation states, +2 and the slightly more stable +4...

 movable type, but this was largely experimental.
In 1574 the massive 1000 volume encyclopedia Imperial Readings of the Taiping Era
Imperial Readings of the Taiping Era
The Imperial Readings of the Taiping Era is a massive encyclopedia compiled by a number of officers commissioned by the imperial court of the Song Dynasty with the lead editor being Li Fang from 977 to 983 during the era of Taiping Xingguo. It is divided into 1,000 volumes and 55 sections, which...

 《太平御览》/《太平御覧》 were printed with bronze movable type.

In1725,the Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

 government made 250,000 bronze movable-type characters and printed 64 sets of the encyclopedic Gujin Tushu Jicheng
Gujin Túshu Jíchéng
The Gujin Tushu Jicheng , is a vast encyclopaedic work written in China during the reigns of Qing emperors Kangxi and Yongzheng, completed in 1725. The work was headed initially by scholar Chen Menglei , and later by Jiang Tingxi. It contained 800,000 pages and over 100 million Chinese characters...

 Complete Collection of Illustrations and Writings from the Earliest to Current Times
《古今图书集成》/《古今圖書集成》. Each set consisted of 5040 volumes, making a total of 322,560 volumes printed using movable type.

During the Mongol Empire
Mongol Empire
The Mongol Empire , initially named as Greater Mongol State was a great empire during the 13th and 14th centuries...

 (1206–1405), printing using movable type spread from China to Central Asia. The Uyghur
Uyghur people
The Uyghur are a Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia. Today, Uyghurs live primarily in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the People's Republic of China...

s of Central Asia used movable type, their script type adopted from the Mongol language, some with Chinese words printed between the pages, a strong evidence that the books were printed in China.

Metal movable type in Europe


Johannes Gutenberg of Mainz
Mainz
Mainz under the Holy Roman Empire, and previously was a Roman fort city which commanded the west bank of the Rhine and formed part of the northernmost frontier of the Roman Empire...

 is acknowledged as the first to invent a metal movable-type printing
Printing press
A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium , thereby transferring the ink...

 system in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. Gutenberg was a goldsmith
Goldsmith
A goldsmith is a metalworker who specializes in working with gold and other precious metals. Since ancient times the techniques of a goldsmith have evolved very little in order to produce items of jewelry of quality standards. In modern times actual goldsmiths are rare...

 familiar with techniques of cutting punches
Punchcutting
In traditional typography, punchcutting is the craft of cutting letter punches in steel from which matrices were made in copper for type founding in the letterpress era. Cutting punches and casting type was the first step of traditional typesetting. The cutting of letter punches was a highly...

 for making coins from moulds. Between 1436 and 1450 he developed hardware and techniques for casting letters from matrices
Matrix (printing)
In hot metal typesetting, a matrix is a mold for casting a letter, known as a sort, used in letterpress printing....

 using a device called the hand mould
Hand mould
A hand mould is a simple mould used for low quantity work. It is used in the injection moulding and the printing industry.-Printing:In the printing industry, a hand mould specifically refers to a two-part mould used for casting hand-made type...

. Gutenberg's key invention and contribution to movable-type printing in Europe, the hand mould was the first practical means of making cheap copies of letterpunches in the vast quantities needed to print complete books, making the movable-type printing process a viable enterprise.

Before Gutenberg, books were copied out by hand on scrolls and paper, or printed from hand-carved wooden blocks. It was extremely time-consuming, even a small book could take months to complete, and the carved letters or blocks were very flimsy and the susceptibility of wood to ink gave such blocks a limited lifespan.

Gutenberg and his associates developed oil-based inks ideally suited to printing with a press
Printing press
A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium , thereby transferring the ink...

 on paper, and the first Latin typeface
Typeface
In typography, a typeface is the artistic representation or interpretation of characters; it is the way the type looks. Each type is designed and there are thousands of different typefaces in existence, with new ones being developed constantly....

s. His method of casting type may have been different from the hand mould used in subsequent decades. Detailed analysis of the type used in his 42-line Bible has revealed irregularities in some of the characters that cannot be attributed to ink spread or type wear under the pressure of the press. Scholars conjecture that the type pieces may have been cast from a series of matrices made with a series of individual stroke punches, producing many different versions of the same glyph. It has also been suggested that the method used by Gutenberg involved using a single punch to make a mould, but the mould was such that the process of taking the type out disturbed the casting, creating variants and anomalies, and that the punch-matrix system came into use possibly around the 1470s.
This raises the possibility that the development of movable type in the West may have been progressive rather than a single innovation.

Gutenberg's movable-type printing system spread rapidly across Europe, from the single Mainz press in 1457 to 110 presses by 1480, of which 50 were in Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. Venice
Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

 quickly became the center of typographic and printing activity. Significant were the contributions of Nicolas Jenson
Nicolas Jenson
Nicolas Jenson was a French engraver, pioneer printer and type designer who carried out most of his work in Venice. Jenson acted as Master of the French Royal Mint at Tours, and is accredited with being the creator of the first model roman type...

, Francesco Griffo
Francesco Griffo
Francesco Griffo , also called Francesco da Bologna, was a fifteenth-century Venetian punchcutter. He worked for Aldus Manutius, designing that printer's more important typefaces, including the first italic type...

, Aldus Manutius
Aldus Manutius
Aldus Pius Manutius , the Latinised name of Aldo Manuzio —sometimes called Aldus Manutius, the Elder to distinguish him from his grandson, Aldus Manutius, the Younger—was an Italian humanist who became a printer and publisher when he founded the Aldine Press at Venice.His publishing legacy includes...

, and other printers of late 15th-century Europe. Despite some conjectures (see), there is no evidence that movable type from the East ever reached Europe.

The historical impact of movable type in China


Prior to the invention of movable type, "woodblock printing" was used in China to print an entire page of a specific text. This technique had been used for centuries, particularly for languages that relied on thousands of characters.

Movable type was invented in China by Bi Sheng during the Northern Song Dynasty. Bi Sheng used clay types, hardened by baking them in fire, to create the first movable type. However, these types were too fragile for large-scale printing. Wang Zhen, a government official, later improved the system by instead creating types out of more durable wood. This new method overcame many of the shortcomings of woodblock printing. Rather than manually carving an individual block to print a single page, movable type printing allowed for the quick assembly of a page of text. Furthermore, these new, more compact type fonts could be reused and stored.

Although Bi Sheng's invention is considered by some archaeologists to be the beginning of typography in China, it failed to become widely used at the time.

Type-founding



Type-founding as practiced in Europe and the west consists of three stages.

Punchcutting
Punchcutting
In traditional typography, punchcutting is the craft of cutting letter punches in steel from which matrices were made in copper for type founding in the letterpress era. Cutting punches and casting type was the first step of traditional typesetting. The cutting of letter punches was a highly...

:
If the glyph design includes enclosed spaces (counters
Counter (typography)
In typography, a counter or aperture is an area entirely or partially enclosed by a letter form or a symbol . Letters containing closed counters include A, B, D, O, P, Q, R, a, b, d, e, g, o, p, and q. Letters containing open counters include c, f, h, i, s etc. The digits 0, 4, 6, 8, and 9 also...

) then a counterpunch is made. The counter shapes are transferred in relief (cameo) onto the end of a rectangular bar of mild steel using a specialized engraving
Engraving
Engraving is the practice of incising a design on to a hard, usually flat surface, by cutting grooves into it. The result may be a decorated object in itself, as when silver, gold, steel, or glass are engraved, or may provide an intaglio printing plate, of copper or another metal, for printing...

 tool called a graver
Burin
Burin from the French burin meaning "cold chisel" has two specialised meanings for types of tools in English, one meaning a steel cutting tool which is the essential tool of engraving, and the other, in archaeology, meaning a special type of lithic flake with a chisel-like edge which was probably...

. The finished counterpunch is hardened by heating and quenching (tempering
Tempering
Tempering is a heat treatment technique for metals, alloys and glass. In steels, tempering is done to "toughen" the metal by transforming brittle martensite or bainite into a combination of ferrite and cementite or sometimes Tempered martensite...

), or exposure to a cyanide solution (case hardening
Case hardening
Case hardening or surface hardening is the process of hardening the surface of a metal, often a low carbon steel, by infusing elements into the material's surface, forming a thin layer of a harder alloy...

).

The counterpunch is then struck against the end of a similar rectangular steel bar—the letterpunch—to impress the counter shapes as recessed spaces (intaglio
Intaglio (printmaking)
Intaglio is a family of printmaking techniques in which the image is incised into a surface, known as the matrix or plate, and the incised line or area holds the ink. Normally, copper or zinc plates are used as a surface, and the incisions are created by etching, engraving, drypoint, aquatint or...

). The outer profile of the glyph is completed by scraping away with a graver the material outside the counter spaces, leaving only the stroke or lines of the glyph. Progress toward the finished design is checked by successive smoke proofs; temporary prints made from a thin coating of carbon deposited on the punch surface by a candle flame. The finished letterpunch is finally hardened to withstand the rigors of reproduction by striking.

One counterpunch and one letterpunch are produced for every letter or glyph making up a complete font.

Matrix
Matrix (printing)
In hot metal typesetting, a matrix is a mold for casting a letter, known as a sort, used in letterpress printing....

:
The letterpunch is used to strike a blank die of soft metal to make a negative letter mould, called a matrix.

Casting: The matrix is inserted into the bottom of a device called a hand mould. The mould is clamped shut and molten type metal alloy consisting mostly of lead
Lead
Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed...

 and tin
Tin
Tin is a chemical element with the symbol Sn and atomic number 50. It is a main group metal in group 14 of the periodic table. Tin shows chemical similarity to both neighboring group 14 elements, germanium and lead and has two possible oxidation states, +2 and the slightly more stable +4...

, with a small amount of antimony
Antimony
Antimony is a toxic chemical element with the symbol Sb and an atomic number of 51. A lustrous grey metalloid, it is found in nature mainly as the sulfide mineral stibnite...

 for hardening, is poured into a cavity from the top. Antimony has the rare property of expanding as it cools, giving the casting sharp edges
. When the type metal has sufficiently cooled, the mould is unlocked and a rectangular block approximately 4 centimeters long, called a sort
Sort (typesetting)
In typesetting by hand compositing, a sort is a piece of type representing a particular letter or symbol, cast from a matrix mould and assembled with other sorts bearing additional letters into lines of type to make up a forme from which a page is printed.-See also:* History of western typography*...

, is extracted. Excess casting on the end of the sort, called the tang, is later removed to make the sort the precise height required for printing, known as "type height".

The type-height was quite different in different countries, the Monotype Corporation Limited in London UK produced moulds in various heights:
  • 0.918 inches : United Kingdom, Canada, USA
  • 0.928 inches : France, Germany, Swiss and most other European Countries
  • 0.933 inches : Belgium height
  • 0.9785 inches : Dutch height


A Dutch printers manual mentions a tiny difference between French and German Height:
  • 62.027 points Didot = 23.30 mm = English height
  • 62.666 points Didot = 23.55 mm = French height
  • 62.685 points Didot = 23.56 mm = German height
  • 66.047 points Didot = 24.85 mm = Dutch Height


Tiny differences in type-height will cause quite bold images of characters.

Typesetting



Modern, factory-produced movable type was available in the late 19th century. It was held in the printing shop in a job case, a drawer about 2 inches high, a yard wide, and about two feet deep, with many small compartments for the various letters and ligatures. The most popular and accepted of the job case designs in America was the California Job Case
California Job Case
A California Job Case is a kind of type case: a compartmentalized wooden box used to store movable type used in letterpress printing.Traditionally, upper and lower case type were each kept in a separate case . As printers became more mobile, a combined case became preferred as it was easier to...

, which took its name from the Pacific coast location of the foundries that made the case popular.

Regardless of who actually invented the case, in order to make his typesetting more efficient, the inventor arranged the compartments according to the letters' frequency of use. The more frequent letters (t, n, e, i, o, r) are arranged in a rough circle directly in front of the typesetter, while the less-frequently used letters and characters are farther away. The arrangement of the letters in the California Job Case became so popular and commonly adopted that a skilled typesetter could "read" the text set by another typesetter, just by watching the positions of the compartments where the typesetter reached for his letters.













ffifl5/m4/mke 12345678 $£ÆŒæœ
j
 
bcdisfgff9ABCDEFG
?fi0HIKLMNO
!lmnhoypw,en
qd
em
qd
zPQRSTVW
xvut3/em
spaces
ar;:2 & 3-em
quads
q
 
.-XYZJU&ffl
The California Job Case



The California Job Case has three sections, with the rightmost sections containing capital letters in alphabetic order except for the "J" and "U", moved to the lowest line to help avoid confusing them with "I" and "V" respectively. The lower case letters and punctuation marks are in the left and center sections, with the numbers 1 to 8 at the top of the center section, while the ligatures (combined letters, such as "ff", "fi", "æ
Æ
Æ is a grapheme formed from the letters a and e. Originally a ligature representing a Latin diphthong, it has been promoted to the full status of a letter in the alphabets of some languages, including Danish, Faroese, Norwegian and Icelandic...

" etc.) are in various locations about the exterior.

In addition to placing the most commonly used letters in setting text in a given language in the easiest positions for the typesetter to get to, the characters' boxes varied in size depending upon the frequency of usage of the character. Thus for English the "e" box is the largest while the "j", "k", "q", "x", and "z" boxes are the smallest.

Prior to the adoption of the California Job Case, the capital letters were stored in a separate drawer or case that was located above the case that held the other letters; this is why capital letters are called "upper case" characters while the non-capitals are "lower case".

Other large compartments in the California Job Case held spacers, which are blocks of blank type used to separate words and fill out a line of type, such as em and en quads (quadrats, or spaces. A quadrat is a block of type whose face is lower than the printing letters so that it does not itself print.). An em space was the width of a capital letter "M" – as wide as it was high – while an en space referred to a space half the width of its height (usually the dimensions for a capital "N").

Individual letters are assembled into words and lines of text with the aid of a composing stick, and the whole assembly is tightly bound together to make up a page image called a forme, where all letter faces are exactly the same height to form a flat surface of type. The forme is mounted on a printing press
Printing press
A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium , thereby transferring the ink...

, a thin coating of viscous ink is applied and impressions made on paper under great pressure in the press. "Sorts" is the term given to special characters not freely available in the typical type case, such as the "@" mark, etc.

See also

  • History of western typography
  • Odhecaton — the first sheet music printed with movable type
  • Type foundry
    Type foundry
    A type foundry is a company that designs or distributes typefaces. Originally, type foundries manufactured and sold metal and wood typefaces and matrices for line-casting machines like the Linotype and Monotype machines designed to be printed on letterpress printers...

  • Typesetting
    Typesetting
    Typesetting is the composition of text by means of types.Typesetting requires the prior process of designing a font and storing it in some manner...


Literature

  • Nesbitt, Alexander The History and Technique of Lettering (c) 1957, Dover Publications, Inc.
    Dover Publications
    Dover Publications is an American book publisher founded in 1941 by Hayward Cirker and his wife, Blanche. It publishes primarily reissues, books no longer published by their original publishers. These are often, but not always, books in the public domain. The original published editions may be...

    ISBN 0486402819, Library of Congress Catalogue Card Number: 57-13116. The Dover edition is an abridged and corrected republication of the work originally published in 1950 by Prentice-Hall, Inc. under the title Lettering: The History and Technique of Lettering as Design.

  • The classic manual of hand-press technology is

External links