In China, history began with stone printing At that time, wet paper was pressed onto a worked stone, which was then brushed with ink, thus creating the first copied texts. After less than ten years, these people were able to reproduce their literature in this form, this process was called lithography.
The process of wood printing is known from the 7th century from East Asia. First, letters and words were carved mirror-inverted in wooden blocks, but the lines thus created were painted, so that the print could be illustrated on paper. Wooden panel printing or block printing was the common printing method of the time. Another printing technique that still needs to be mentioned is called pattern printing (Zeugdruck), which originated in the ancient Orient and was used to pattern textiles with the help of raised pieces of wood. In Europe, however, block printing did not develop until the 14th century. In the following centuries the original technique was improved and developed further and further, a significant triumph in printing technology could be celebrated.
Offset printing The invention of offset printing. The process meant that ink was applied to a moving cylinder, which, however, only held at pre-determined points by applying grease, thus releasing ink when it came into contact with the paper. This brilliant achievement paved the way for ever new printers and was the forerunner of our present-day printing processes.
The oldest printing unit in the world Until 1966, woodblock printing was considered the oldest in the world. A 5-metre-long parchment roll with six sheets of text and one sheet of a woodcut illustration was called the “Diamond Sutra”. These text leaves were a translated Buddhist text translated into Chinese. The work was printed by a certain Wang Chieh on 11.05.868 (the date was calculated according to our calendar). According to this, this Chinese is the first “printer” to be historically classified. This very interesting scroll can be seen today in the Museum of London/England, it was discovered around 1900 in a cave near the province of Kansu. This is therefore the oldest printing work in the world.
In Korea in the thirteenth century, printing with cast individual types made of metal, “single type printing”, was invented. A wooden board with a border was used as the printing forme, into which the previously produced individual types were inserted and then held together by filling them with wax. The printing technique of the Koreans, actually the casting method and the production of prints by the so-called rubbing method, could not be brought to perfection at that time and so it could not be used commercially. Accordingly, this process was only carried out by government order because it simply proved to be too cumbersome and time-consuming. At the beginning of the 14th century, there is a decree by the kings of Korea that orders the printing of the complete Korean literature with copper types in order to promote popular education. In 1403, the first type foundry was officially opened in Korea.
Single-sheet printing The Brussels single-sheet print of a Mother of God “Brussels Madonna” is one of the oldest known woodblock prints with the year 1418, as well as an image of St. Christopher with the year 1423, which was found in the monastery of Buxheim/Memmingen. The oldest block books were produced around 1430, mostly in the Netherlands or Germany, and were superseded by J. Gutenberg’s printing with movable letters at the beginning of the 16th century.
Letterpress printing with movable metal letters The invention of letterpress printing with movable metal letters and printing on a printing press is notionally considered to be the year 1440, by Johannes Gutenberg. From about 1445 onwards, he inserted letters into printing forms and used them to print on a printing press that he had developed himself. It can be said that this invention was the first step towards mass communication using the written word.
Woodcut A graphic letterpress process in which a previously drawn representation in the form of text or image is cut out of a wooden panel that later serves as a printing block, has been known in Europe since the 14th century. Printed products produced by woodcuts were single-sheet woodcuts.
Calendar prints The calendars printed in the 14th century are not calendars as we know them today, but rather single-sheet prints that contained information on feast days, phases of the moon and astrological advice. One of the oldest calendar broadsides is the “Viennese Calendar” from 1462, which was printed in Ingolstadt.
Copper and steel engraving (mezzotint) Finland was first supplied with printers from Sweden until about 1640, when the first letterpress printing works in the area of present-day Finland was opened as a (university) printing works. Around the same time, the German engraver L. von Siegen invented mezzotint. This is a very special copper and steel engraving process which also allows grey tones in the printed result.
Sheet music in block printing In addition to type printing, woodblock printing (block printing) is a possible method for printing sheet music. Block printing of sheet music can be traced back to the 17th century.
According to the principle of mezzotint (mezzotint printing) – The 4-colour printing process Each colour consists of three basic tones The principle of mezzotint printing was used by J. Ch. LeBlon in 1710. Ch. LeBlon made use of the principle of mezzotint and that any colour can be achieved from 3 basic colours if they are mixed correctly. He used red, yellow, blue and the auxiliary colour black. Then, from a mezzotint plate, which was prepared accordingly, three images on the printout exactly coincided. This process was given the name four-colour printing process.
Plate printing In 1586, the engraver S. Verovio introduced music engraving (music printing) through plate printing. In this process, a steel stamp is used to strike bar lines into a metal plate, for example, and then the blackened engraving is printed on paper.
Line etching In 1840, a line etching process was developed in Vienna/Austria. In this process, metal plates were etched so deeply in stages that a printing forme was created in which the printed parts remained raised. This process was used to reproduce originals that consisted of evenly toned areas, lines or dots.
Galvanoplasty With this technique we find a process of electrolytic surface treatment. It was used to produce metal copies and printing originals. Copies in the form of metal were produced from wooden blanks. These copies were given the name galvanos, they withstood the strong pressure of the steam press better. To make the galvanos, a copper film was placed on a rubber or wax impression of the original. When it was removed from the mould and poured with a molten metal alloy, the user of these consumables received a rich metal printing plate.
Offset printing Today, offset printing is the printing process most commonly used for printing books or newspapers. The first offset printing machine in the world was built in 1905 in a printing machine factory in New Jersey, according to the American Rubel. Offset printing is a flat printing process in which the ink is not printed directly from the printing forme onto the paper, but is first applied to a rubber blanket and from there printed onto the printing material for printing.
Dry copying process The relatively imperfect Xerox machine, launched in 1950, was the first to introduce a dry copying process into a machine. In 1959, the first automatic copying machine based on “xerography” came onto the market, which was capable of printing on normal, uncoated paper. Xerox Corporation (name since 1961) is today one of the largest manufacturers of duplicators and copiers.
A reprint is a photographic reprint of an older work, usually true to the original. From the beginning of the 1960s, this process became increasingly important, especially for libraries. Because they were now in a position to replenish library stocks that had mostly been reduced by the effects of war.