Last Friday I joined a few of my colleagues for a field trip to the Museum of Printing in North Andover, Mass. There's a little something for everyone: hand-drawn letter forms and cases of fonts for type geeks, mechanical marvels for gear heads, engravings and prints for historians... But my favorite part of the museum is Frank Romano, volunteer, tour guide, president and living encyclopedia of all things printing. For example, did you know that all the lead type used to print the Gutenberg Bible (or anything else at that time) was cleaned in a bucket of urine since there were no solvents? Or that a stereotype was an embossed technological advancement that allowed massive print reproduction (second photo from top)?
Frank is writing a book on the history of Linotype, the first automated typesetting machine, some of which you can see below. Coincidentally a documentary film is also being made on this same advancement. But I suggest you just go see Frank personally for starters, then hang out on a Saturday to watch a few experts print on everything from a 16th century wood press to mid-20th century clam shell.
The beautiful images below were shot by my colleague Coulter Lewis.