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Guide to printing students-16

Guide to printing students-16

Guide to printing students

-Few objective Questions and answers-

Written by : N.R. Jayaraman

Pre note:-
The articles are meant to help the students gain knowledge and effectively compete in the interviews and nothing else. Please note that these are not to be published by anyone for commercial purpose without the written permission from the author since the theme and illustrative examples have been compiled exclusively by the author for the benefit of the student community. THIS WILL BE PERIODICALLY PUBLISHED.

80) What is meant by movable type?
Movable types means metal cast, molded or engraved piece of blocks, each block holding individual characters or letters on their surface, all blocks maintaining uniform height and same font or letter style matching with each other, which when placed side by side in rows and lines (composed) and printed, show uniformity of the printed text for easy reading.
Each individual wooden or metal blocks could be placed side by side in same alignment and assembled to form words and sentences for printing pages and pages of text material. The corrections could be easily carried out by removing wrong letters and inserting the right ones, whether such individual letters were cast letter or engraved blocks for composing the text material. Since it was possible to remove individual wrong letters or insert the newer individual letters after composing them into pages for printing, they were all called moveable types.

81) Who invented movable types and what were the reasons ?
Prior to the invention of moveable types on metal, only wooden blocks holding the hand engraved text material or the illustrations per page was used for printing the books or other printed material. Additions or deletions or rearranging the texts  could not be carried out as it was hand engraved on a single piece of wooden block. Once block per page prepared, space between letters in each word could not be varied or adjusted to give more clarity in reading. The concept of proportional spacing could not be maintained, they being hand engraved on wooden blocks. The wooden typefaces also lost their sharpness over period of use. They could not withstand the changed weather conditions in maintaining their sizes. These were the main factors which led to the invention of moveable cast metallic typefaces that would give perfect spacing between individual letters, words and lines, besides uniformity in their heights to leave even ink impression on the substance on which printing was carried out.

The world’s first movable type made of porcelain materials was reportedly invented around AD 1040 in China during the Northern Song Dynasty (990–1051) and used along with typefaces on wooden blocks. In 1191 or so moveable types made of clay material was used for printing books- mostly Buddhist texts- during Southern Song Dynasty, again in China. But the Clay types were not very strong and did not satisfy the needs of rigors in printing. Though other than Porcelain some other ceramic materials were also reportedly tried for making moveable types, the extent to which they were successfully used for printing the books is not known even though some books printed in China using clay moveable types is reportedly available in the British Museum. However in view of the failure of wooden moveable types in meeting the weather conditions to maintain their size and stability, the transition to the use of types made of bronze metal was invented in Korea in 1230 AD.  Prior to it Mokhwaljabon is a book created by making a typeset from wood types and printed in Korea before inventing metallic moveable types. Subsequently in the year 1234 a book has been printed using metal types during the Goryeo dynasty of Korea.  It was invented and used before the creation of metal movable type. Historians point out that the first set of moveable types were made of wood followed my  metal in Korea and therefore it is just fair to believe that it was Koreans who actually invented metal types before Johannes Gutenberg perfected the art of moveable types by inventing molded metal types from an alloy of lead, tin, and antimony—in Europe and the tri metal combination for casting the metallic typefaces for printing remained standard even till date to the type foundries for printing on a machine. There is degree of disagreement over who invented the moveable types. Some researchers still argue that on Chinese invented the technology of moving types.  But one thing is certain that the concept of movable type technology was brought to Europe by Christian missionaries, traders and business people who were returning to Europe after having worked in China for several years, Johannes Gutenberg invented the moveable, molded metal types in or around 1450. However the historians are unable to firmly state who  invented the moveable metal types,  invention date except to record that either Koreans or Chinese were the first to use moveable types.

81) What were the advantages of moveable types?
a) Occupies lesser space

b) Easier to handle

c) Alterations and corrections possible in shortest time.

d) Gives perfect spacing between words and lines. 

e) Freedom to rearrange the text even after composing them.

Next:….Mezzo and Aquatints  printing

About The Author


Retired Govt of India Official. My hobby is to write articles that range from Printing technologies to Spiritual.

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