What did the Victorians ever do for us?

Last week, after an aborted start due to a meteorite impact (stone chip on windscreen!), we spent a couple of days away from home/work/the internet in Shropshire. We spent a bit of time at the birthplace of the industrial revolution, now home to a few museums… and a power station:

(Probably not PC but somehow seems an apt addition to the scenery considering the area’s past.)

Despite a closed road (travel was turning out to be a pain on this holiday!) we made it to the Blists Hill Victorian town, which was well worth the effort.

The town has it’s own printing shop where they were printing boxes to put bricks in, as you do. They had a couple of old presses, including one fantastic platen press. Probably a bit too big for the shed sadly.

Typesetting the kind of postcards they usually print probably doesn’t take too long, but the post office had a newspaper which would have been a huge effort to typeset… not to mention pulling apart again, cleaning and storing ready for the next edition. Movable type clearly has it’s drawbacks.

And yet there’s something far more tactile about the end result than modern printing, which got me thinking about a fairly random mashup of old and new technology. Instead of assembling all those individual pieces of cast metal by hand, could you print the whole thing using a 3d printer? Linotype may have cast complete lines as a single slug, but a 3d printer could produce whole paragraphs, or pages at a time. Ok, pointless I know: technology has moved on, and clearly in a more efficient direction, but I still want to try it!

(Alternatively, this random use for 3d printing could be even more fun!)

Photo of metal type © no_typographic_man cc by-nc-nd 2.0


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