Monday, September 19, 2005

Gutenberg Challenge

The bindery of Laurens Janszoon Koster.

Engraving by Jan van de Velde after a design by Pieter Janszoon Saenredam, in Petrus Scriverius' Laure-crans voor Laurens Coster van Haerlem, Eerste Vinder vande Boeck-druckery (1628).

Although the evidence is somewhat scant, Dutch legend would have it that Laurens Janszoon Koster from Haarlem invented moveable type while walking in a park with his grandchildren. The idea occurred to him when he was cutting letters out of birch leaves. If it is believed, his first printing efforts in 1440 predate Gutenberg's printing press by 12 years. Or so the story goes. All that is known about the tale appears at the Psymon Web Bindery (cache) which has a nice interface and a collection of woodcut and art images and a history of printing.

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