Printing on ‘Gutenberg’s’ One-Pull Press

Stuart Barnard, RBC-Bodleian Visiting Fellow, writes:

Although none of Johannes Gutenberg’s printing presses survive from the 15th century, Alan May has crafted a working press that closely replicates what historians believe Gutenberg’s invention would have looked like. May built the one-pull press for the BBC programme “The Machine That Made Us,” which was hosted by Stephen Fry and aired in 2008.

Last Monday evening,  Alan May and Martin Andrews gave an extraordinary presentation in the Upper Library at Christ Church, Oxford, about the development of the press. They discussed how historians have used various illustrations and historical records to determine how Gutenberg’s press and the moveable type were developed. After showing clips of the BBC program in which the metal screw was carved, May described the process by which he was able to build a working press. Those in attendance were then given the opportunity to cast their own type and then pull the lever of the press to print their own page of Gutenberg’s Bible, a passage from 2 Maccabees in the Latin Vulgate, and take home unique pieces of printing memorabilia.

Thanks are due to Cristina Neagu, the Christ Church Librarian, for hosting the session. See more beautiful pictures of this workshop here:

Stuart Barnard will speak about missionaries and print culture in Canada, on 19 Feb. in the Lecture Theatre, Weston Library. Click for link to free registration.

Gutenberg press workshop, Christ Church, Oxford
Casting type at the workshop, with Alan May


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.