Talk:History of printing

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Length of article[edit]

For now, I am adding content from related pages. This article as a whole will then require editing for clarity, brevity and completeness. Specifically, removal of content will be necessary to keep things reasonably short. —Parhamr 22:22, 23 September 2007 (UTC)


I've just discovered this article. How is it not a fork from the articles on Spread of printing, History of Western typography, and History of typography in East Asia I also regret the dependence upon one elementary general textbook that only partially deals with the subject, Meggs, Philip B. A History of Graphic Design. 18:20, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

Fair use rationale for Image:Pa 1977 9700-medium.jpg[edit]

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Image:Pa 1977 9700-medium.jpg is being used on this article. I notice the image page specifies that the image is being used under fair use but there is no explanation or rationale as to why its use in this Wikipedia article constitutes fair use. In addition to the boilerplate fair use template, you must also write out on the image description page a specific explanation or rationale for why using this image in each article is consistent with fair use.

Please go to the image description page and edit it to include a fair use rationale. Using one of the templates at Wikipedia:Fair use rationale guideline is an easy way to ensure that your image is in compliance with Wikipedia policy, but remember that you must complete the template. Do not simply insert a blank template on an image page.

If there is other fair use media, consider checking that you have specified the fair use rationale on the other images used on this page. Note that any fair use images lacking such an explanation can be deleted one week after being tagged, as described on criteria for speedy deletion. If you have any questions please ask them at the Media copyright questions page. Thank you.

BetacommandBot (talk) 14:34, 8 March 2008 (UTC)

Phaistos Disc is stamping, not printing[edit]

I think the inclusion of this splendid artefact in the History of Printing is embarrassing. Stamping technology is not Printing technology. Movable type per se enables the reproduction of multiple copies of a text. There isn't even a second Phaistos document! -- Evertype· 08:53, 29 June 2008 (UTC)

I couldnt agree with you more--I think its a very strained interpretation indeed, but there is a published references in a RS saying it meets the qualifications for printing. DGG (talk) 04:02, 30 June 2008 (UTC)
One of the published references is from a specialist in the Phaistos disc, making a claim about type. That's not the same thing as an expert in the history of printing making a similar claim. The other is from a 6-page article exploring the principles of typography, and is a musing from an expert, not, I believe, a proper Referenced Source. I think this material is proper to the Phaistos Disc article, but taking pride of place as the earliest example of the history of printing in this article is misleading to the reader. I recommend that we revise it out. In fact, I am going to do so, in good faith. -- Evertype· 09:23, 30 June 2008 (UTC)
I agree with your analysis. I've also made the change on the page on printing. --lk (talk) 08:01, 11 July 2008 (UTC)
I personally agree with your analysis, but I dont think the published consensus is enough to support removing it. I am not myself going to change what you did, but if challenged, I will not support the removal of the material unless you can produce published evidence supporting the removal..DGG (talk) 01:08, 13 July 2008 (UTC)

Cyanotype doesn't belong[edit]

Although it has apparently been there since this article was initiated, Cyanotype is a "ringer" in the boxed "History of printing" list/table of linked printing process names, which is apparently not accessible for editing in the ordinary way.

Cyanotype (the original "blueprint" process) is a strictly photographic process—a sheet of paper is chemically sensitized, exposed to light under a photographic negative, drawing or object, then chemically processed (in this case, simply by washing it with water), producing a unique print. There is no transfer of ink, pigment, dye or any other substance. The image is entirely generated in situ by purely photographic means.

I realize that there are "gray area" hybrid technologies within this topic which involve photographic steps (e.g., offset lithography and xerography), but this is not one of them. Unless the many other types of photographic paper in use from 1839 up to the present are to be included in the list, which would be absurd, "Cyanotype" needs to be removed.

The same apparently non-editable list appears in the "Lithography" article, and, I would assume, in a number of other related articles.

Will someone who knows the magic words required for editing access kindly correct this long-standing error?

AVarchaeologist (talk) 09:46, 21 March 2011 (UTC)

Done - you edit Template:History of printing Johnbod (talk) 13:02, 21 March 2011 (UTC)
I have pondered on this. I can see that cyanotype is not strictly a printing process, at least not in the sense of being a sensible way to print text, but for practical purposes almost all contact printing is a thing of the past in high-volume printing, and cyanotype must have been used for producing illustrations for a variety of publications, just as aquatint and mezzotint have. (They, too, would be a foolish way to print text.) Indeed, the cyanotype article mentions "a limited series of cyanotype books" created by Anna Atkins. On balance, I think it may be a bit too dogmatic to exclude cyanotype from the history of printing. And what about photolithography? Moonraker2 (talk) 06:33, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
Only 17 copies of Atkins book are known to exist, or probably ever have. I agree with AVa that it is an essentially photographic process; you can make a book of original photos if you want, and have the patience. In a cyanotype book each plate in each copy would have been created from scratch individually, as there isn't even a re-usable negative stage. The template rightly doesn't cover photography. I'm pretty sure that any illustrations of cyanotypes in "illustrations for a variety of publications" have actually been printed in another technique, which incidentally is also true of aquatint and mezzotint, intaglio printing techniques that can't be printed with type text and whose plates wear very quickly by book publishing standards. For these there may also be exceptions at the top end in the luxury illustrated book (in fact I see some aquatint was used for the c. 200 copies of Birds of America (book)) and there are in artist's books, but really they are only printmaking techniques, not for book printing. The aquatint in Goya's The Disasters of War had largely worn away after some 600 impressions, and mezzotint collectors were extremely fussy about getting earlier impressions, many only collecting "proof" impressions. As for photolithography, that might be removed, as the article under that title is all about the modern technique for manufacturing microprocessors. A hatnote says that the 19th century printing technique is covered in lithography, although I'm not sure it is. Johnbod (talk) 13:09, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
On that side issue, the vast majority of pre-20th century aquatints were printed to go into books, and the books are still being broken, as in most cases the dealers can get more money that way. The same is probably true of small mezzotints, although not of course of large ones. But I digress. This discussion about cyanotype is interesting. For my money it is a photographic printing process, and I don't quite see the harm in including it in the template and thus in the article, but I seem to be in the minority. Moonraker2 (talk) 22:37, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
I doubt that, as single prints were usually also sold from the get-go. See here for the numbers possible, which even then weren't enough for normal book publishing, though steel-facing would help, but giving a loss of quality. But the template here doesn't count an old-style photo as "printing", following normal convention, so why include these even more one-off things? No monotype either, but engraving, c. 1420, should be added. Johnbod (talk) 23:17, 22 March 2011 (UTC)
My thanks to Johnbod for making the correction. As to the controversies evoked in response, digging into a sampling of the hundreds of books about printing published after the advent of photography should confirm to anyone's satisfaction that they almost universally draw a line between mechanical printing processes—plainly the subject of this article—and photographic ones. In the former, one characteristic feature is that the substance forming the image or text is physically deposited on the final support, usually but not always (e.g., ink jet printing) by means of a printing plate of some kind. By that definition (quickly improvised by me for this occasion but in keeping with standard ones), all of the various processes mentioned above, except cyanotype, plainly qualify as printing processes in the sense of this article, even when they reproduce an image that was initially created by photography, and even if only one print is made. A photographic print is created by the action of light on a light-sensitive substance ("photography" is a concoction from Greek roots roughly meaning "light-drawing"), usually with the assistance of chemical treatment to "develop" an initially faint or invisible image (not necessary with the cyanotype process and a few others) and to prevent subsequent exposure to light from having any further effect. Normally, but not always, the image is generated in place on the final support surface. Prints made by various photographic processes have, indeed, been used to illustrate books, sometimes in runs of hundreds of copies, but they are still photographic prints rather than mechanical or photomechanical ones. The dividing line between the two fields can be fuzzy in a few places, but per Wikipedia standards something more substantial than a creative editorial consensus, or even an unorthodox statement found in print, is needed to justify the inclusion here of a process traditionally classified as photographic, at least not without providing a rationale for the departure from tradition within the article. For an example of a process often included in lists of photographic processes but which could very properly be included here, consider the Woodburytype, used to illustrate a number of books from about 1870 to 1900. It produced results of superb quality, with no screen pattern whatever and practically impossible to distinguish from an original photograph, but it was too time-consuming and labor-intensive for large runs and fell out of use. It reproduced a photographically created continuous-tone image by a molding process, using an intaglio printing plate in essentially the same way as other intaglio printing process. AVarchaeologist (talk) 13:04, 23 March 2011 (UTC)

mini questionaire on template queries[edit]

While we're on a run, let's try to get a consensus on some others re the template. Please add comments under each entry:
  • photolithography?
    Yes in principle, but the current link is at least wrong for the C19 date given, & I'm not sure where else to send it.
  • Alternatively it could be argued that variant intaglio printing techniques such as mezzotint & aquatint could all be grouped together.
  • Anything else?

The timeline contradicts itself in regard to 3D printing. Stereolithography is listed as a type on 3D printing on the 3D printing article and on the stereolithography article. This means 3D printing started at least in 1986, not 2003. Actually, some of the other technologies listed in the 3D Printing article also started in the 1980s, according to their own wikipedia articles (SLS, FDM). Where did the 2003 date come from? IBrow1000 (talk) 13:19, 29 April 2012 (UTC)

Johnbod (talk) 14:35, 23 March 2011 (UTC)

Citation needed for first paragraph of In Europe[edit]

The first paragraph is useful and important:

Block printing was long practised in Christian Europe as a method for printing on cloth, where it was common by 1300. Images printed on cloth for religious purposes could be quite large and elaborate, and when paper became relatively easily available, around 1400, the medium transferred very quickly to small woodcut religious images and playing cards printed on paper. These prints were produced in very large numbers from about 1425 onwards.

But it needed a citation. I found a citation to Hind 1963 that was commented out, so I restored it. But I don't have that source. Can anyone verify the source for this paragraph? CarlDrews (talk) 19:10, 26 January 2012 (UTC)