> A printer’s shop was a noisy, smelly place full of frenetic work (and often times, drunk apprentices and journeymen). Given that, it is amazing what printers during the “hand press period” (ca. 1450-1800) achieved. Shown here is a “puller” who pulls the bar which applies force through the platen onto the paper (with the inked type beneath, creating an impression). See the diagram of a press with its parts labelled, below.
It generally took two pulls to create one printed sheet (which often contained multiple pages). In the background you can see the printed sheets hanging up to dry (damp paper takes the ink better), and a compositor at his case. What is NOT shown is the second man at the press, who inks the type after each impression. A good team could produce 250 sheets an hour, or one every 15 seconds.
Here is yours truly at one of our presses in Special Collections. Any printers out there who can get this press running will win my undying regard!