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Re: 600 year birthday of Gutenberg

You will find wonderful information about Chinese and Korean moveable type,
both ceramic and wood and metal characters, in Printing and Publishing in
Medieval China, by Denis Twitchett, Frederic C. Beil, Publisher, 321 E. 43rd
St, N.Y., N.Y. 10017, published as a paperback in 1983. I believe it is still
in print.

Some excerpts:
The earliest surviving description of movable type printing was written by
Shen Kua (1030-1094), a scholar fascinated by all forms of technology who
ascribes the invention to Pi Sheng. In the 1040's Pi had used movable type
made of ceramic. These were set in an iron frome which printed the margins
and lines separating the columns of each page...
The next account of movable type printing dates from the Mongol Yuan dynasty
in 1313, when Wang Chen gave another account of Pi Sheng's experiments...and
continues by describing his own experiments with wooden movable type...which
was cut individually by hand. He estimated that the font of movable type
required would number more than 30,000. The individual wood types...were set
in a wooden forme, each of a standard size, with the lines between columns
consisting of fine strips of bamboo. The type was wedged tight by wooden
wedges and plugs...
In spite of these experiments movable type never really caught on in
China...there was an abundance of cheap block cutters and printers whose
skill and speed made block printing more than competitive.
Movable type gained a new lease of life in Korea, where the first mention of
movable type printing dates from 1241. In 1392 the Korean government set up a
state printing works, which was responsible for the casting of metal type and
for printing. In 1403 the government's type foundry produced a bronze font
numbering several hundred thousand characters; new fonts were cast at least
seven more times in the fifteenth century alone...

Fabulous book.

Kitty Maryatt
Director of the Scripps College Press

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