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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...


>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.

A significant part of Gutenberg's invention -- which may or may not have
been anticipated by Chinese and/or Korean inventors -- was the technology
for cheaply and easily producing as many copies as desired of movable metal
type slugs;  the invention of movable wooden type slugs is far less
significant since each individual slug must be individually carved;  the
relevant question re the porcelain ones is "were they done in reusable

>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

This would presumably anticipate all significant aspects of Gutenberg's

>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

Say "hello" for me to the rare book librarians at Scripps, who might
remember me from a group visit in the summer of 1998 -- if you see them.


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