Talk:Printing press

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How to[edit]

The point of this section was that it providedi nformation about what actually happens in the use of a press. Though the wording may appear non-encylcopedic. I think it needs to be considered for restoration, because I think the basic material may not be clear without it. DGG (talk) 00:19, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

Good point; maybe turning it into a diagram or making the list more concise would work better? —Parhamr 00:36, 20 September 2007 (UTC)
Potential book sources
Potential video sources
Potential image sources

I will try to get the above books. —Parhamr 09:25, 20 September 2007 (UTC)


  • The device was also used from very early on in urban contexts as a cloth press for printing patterns, and for printings engravings on paper. Not that I dispute this, but a reference couldn't hurt.
  • In this situation, the decentralised state of the medieval landscape allowed a certain freedom to pursue individual solutions beyond the restrictions imposed by political and religious authorities. Restored as this is one of the key hypotheses of the authors quoted.
  • since the late 14th century and which worked on the same mechanical principles. There is nothing to clarify, paper presses worked by the same screw principle as printing presses
  • as well as its use in China from the 11th century (using ceramic or wood blocks) and Korea (using bronze) This is still off-topic here as there is no known connection between Far Eastern and Western printing. The thrust of this passage is obviously that the idea of movable type had been in the air in medieval Europe for centuries, perhaps as early as antiquity (cf. Medieval letter tile, Pruefening dedicatory inscription and Roman lead pipe inscription. There is no more reason to refer to Far Eastern typography here than in an article on the history of Chinese characters to prior, but unrelated Sumerian writing. Post hoc is not propter hoc.
  • compared to forty by hand-printing. Obviously, we are talking here about typography, printing presses were not used for woodblock printing to any extent

Gun Powder Ma (talk) 00:06, 28 February 2011 (UTC)

What does the reference actually say for "In this situation, the decentralised state of the medieval landscape allowed a certain freedom to pursue individual solutions beyond the restrictions imposed by political and religious authorities"? As it stands it makes very little sense. "Religious authorities" were notoriously more centralized in late medieval Europe than at almost any other time or place in history, and the growing, if not very co-ordinated, Habsburg state, was reaching its zenith. But neither took any great interest in imposing "restrictions" on industrial processes, which were however often very tightly contolled by local guild regulations. I will remove it again - if you want to re-add it in a clearer form, please put a draft here first. Johnbod (talk) 00:20, 28 February 2011 (UTC)
  • While I remember, we might mention the elaborate metal punches with ornamental designs used to decorate leather bookbindings & other leather goods, which had been around for centuries, & were often used in combinations to make up a design. Johnbod–— (talk) 05:21, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
What source would you recommend? I am interested in these things. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 12:40, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
I have a short book on the subject: John P. Harthan, Bookbindings, Second revised edition (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1961 (ie Victoria & Albert Museum), which doesn't mention any link with printing presses I think but gives a basic account of the history. His Introduction is here but not so much use without the pictures. He seems to be a top man anyway. See the preceding piece too. There are lots of books on google books, but I've been looking for stuff on the gold tooling technique that largely replaced the stamps, so can't make a specific recommendation. Let us know if you find something good. This object is interesting for example - was the inscription stamped or incised (see picture of top)? One could ask. I take it you know about metalcut prints, where the image was very largely composed with repeated punch stamps? Johnbod (talk) 15:03, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
No, this is news to me, but thanks for it. I am still quite new to such early realizations of the typographic principle, but their diverseness is fascinating, isn't it? The other day I have seen pictures from the inscriptions on the silver retable at Cividale. Clearly made by individual punches - around 1200. Now I am wondering how widely the techique was also applied in the Byzantine realm. Not much research has be done on it, so it feels a bit like pioneering work. Let me know if you happen to know something about these staurotheca and lipsanotheca, a good museum art catalogue with sharp images can much help identify the technique. I'll follow up your recommended reading, perhaps this is even worth an article of its own one day? Gun Powder Ma (talk) 20:56, 19 March 2011 (UTC)
There are several different articles, or ways of doing an article, we could do with. Don't know about Byzantine stuff, but much use of punches was common to all goldsmiths. The metalcut prints that use punches so much seem to have started at just the same time as Gutenberg btw, so can't clearly be said to be earlier. Johnbod (talk) 02:54, 21 March 2011 (UTC)

Marxist historiographical account too narrow[edit]

Under the heading "History", there is actually very little history. The intellectual theory presented under "Economic conditions and intellectual climate" is purely Marxist and does not take into account any variations to that theory, let alone other broad theories behind the development of literacy, so it is biased.

Edits should include something along the lines of "Some historians suggest..." at the start of the first paragraph, then the reference to "The sharp rise of medieval learning and literacy" needs to either be provided with a factual basis and references, and it should be measured by some reference to current cultural historical theory which recognises that secondary literacy (learning through listening) was widespread in Medieval Europe, and that "medieval learning" was available through church attendance, plays, participation in juries and the court system, and to those in service in houses with educated members.

For an overview, the best possible summary is in the 2006 "A Social History of England", ed. by R. Horrox and W. Mark Ormod, which contains essays on writing and links with the rest of Europe. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Athomas.wadh (talkcontribs) 16:07, 14 May 2011 (UTC)

Speed of typographic hand-printing[edit]

In the introductory section and in the "Mass production and spread of printed books" section, the article currently says that typographic hand-printing using movable type did not exceed 40 pages per day, compared to over 3000 for printing presses. The difference in printing speeds is important, because previous printing technologies (used in Asia for instance) apparently fell into the typographic hand-printing category.

However, the article History_of_printing_in_East_Asia#The_printing_process says that a skilled printer could produce 1500 or 2000 pages per day. Also, 40 pages per day seems intuitively implausible—presumably even hand-copying could produce 40 pages per day. Should this comparison be removed, or updated to the 1500+ number? Z8 (talk) 19:39, 24 December 2012 (UTC)

Neither. The 1500 or 2000 pages per day refer to woodblock printing, not typographic printing. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 02:16, 9 January 2013 (UTC)


"The invention of printing is credited to Johannes Gutenberg " is badly misleading. Gutenberg's claim is for printing by movable type, not for printing overall (by carved woodblock etc) Andy Dingley (talk) 23:17, 6 April 2013 (UTC)

Precisely. There is a difference between hand printing and mechanical printing. Some of the cave art in France is technically 'printing.' If anything, Gutenberg improved the methods for movable type mechanical printing, but the assertion that he invented printing is absurd. ( (talk) 16:06, 17 April 2013 (UTC)).

I'm puzzled by this, as Gutenberg did not invent moveable type. The Koreans were using moveable type much earlier. See, for example, this;

Exactly, this article is not historically accurate. The world's first movable type printing press was invented by Bi Sheng over four hundred years before Gutenberg was even born. And the oldest currently known book ever printed by metal movable type is the Korean Jikji as mentioned above. This article needs to be rewritten! (talk) 21:00, 16 October 2016 (UTC)

Category German Inventions[edit]

I noticed this has gone back and forth a few times and I'm a little confused. Even if Gutenberg didn't invent movable type or "printing" broadly, it's not fair to say the machine known as the "printing press" was his invention -- and thus a German invention? I don't have any particular stake in this -- just curious why it's controversial. --— Rhododendrites talk |  14:45, 26 December 2013 (UTC)

Agreed. However there is a long-running sockpuppeting problem involving many articles that are not German inventions too. As a result, no-one has been in a hurry to categorise this legitimately as German. See my comment above for the scope of how much is German (press, maybe yes; printing, definitely not).
If you personally have seen adequate sourcing to convince yourself that Gutenberg's was innovative and has primacy, also that Gutenberg was German according to a reasonable interpretation, then go ahead and add it. Andy Dingley (talk) 15:44, 26 December 2013 (UTC)

strange english[edit]

this sentence "In Korea, the movable metal type printing technique was invented in the early thirteenth century during the Goryeo Dynasty. However, the Goryeo Dynasty of Korea printed Jikgi by using the similar method about 72 years earlier than Gutenberg," why would you say "however". that sounds really strange. this is clearly rubbish and there is no source to this claim anyway. I would remove it. if anyone thinks it should stay, reply within the next view days. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:45, 15 June 2014 (UTC)

What about the last 80 years?[edit]

I was hoping to find out a bit about the latest industrial printers that can apparently print millions of individual customized mailers in full color. Instead I find something that runs out of gas even before I was born in the middle of the last century. Let's get hopping. DCDuring (talk) 17:58, 19 November 2014 (UTC)

Lead too long[edit]

The lead is way too long, and introduces material that is not covered in the article. The lead is supposed to summarize what's in the article. See Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Lead section. I tried to move some stuff in to the history section but got reverted. Maybe someone else can try, or explain what they didn't like about what I did. Kendall-K1 (talk) 16:24, 20 February 2015 (UTC)

Agreed. The explanation is the long-running "culture war" here, over how much space and prominence to give to East Asian historical techniques. The reasonable complaint in the section above should also be addressed, with a sentence or two and links. Johnbod (talk) 16:51, 20 February 2015 (UTC)
I've done my best to trim it, removing a bunch of unnecessary detail (some entirely irrelevant to the history of printing) and double-linking. --Pericles of AthensTalk 14:05, 1 March 2015 (UTC)
I don't believe the tag should be removed until such time as there is an agreement on the intro length. Has this agreement been reached? It does still appear to be too long to me. Leonardo da VinciTalk 17:04, 1 March 2015 (UTC)
Really? If you say so. Feel free to revert my edit and put it back, but I've seen intros to featured articles with roughly the same length, to be honest. --Pericles of AthensTalk 23:59, 1 March 2015 (UTC)
The issue is not about the length of the intro in general, but about its length in proportion to the rest of the article. Intros should generally be about 10% of the article's full length and should summarize the article's content. That is not the case here. Leonardo da VinciTalk 11:40, 2 March 2015 (UTC)

Recent disruptive edits to the lead[edit]

I would ask that the person using various IP addresses (never the same) to stop reverting my version of the lead to add in a bunch of irrelevant description about the Mongol Empire and Korea's tributary status as a vassal to Song, Yuan, and Ming dynasty China. None of that is relevant in an article about the printing press, and even less relevant in the lead section that's supposed to summarize the article as a whole. You seem awfully new to Wikipedia, because you clearly don't understand the standards that an encyclopedia is supposed to uphold. Also, although he speculates about the strong possibility that paper, the compass, and gunpowder made their way to Europe over the centuries from China, Joseph Needham (who you mentioned in your edit summary but never cited properly) actually says nothing about movable type printing ala Bi Sheng's version being directly transmitted to the West. For that matter, the Chinese form of movable type printing (which remained dwarfed in East Asia by woodblock printing even into the 18th century) did not utilize the Greco-Roman screw press device whatsoever, which is an essential component of the printing press. Gutenberg's printing press was never actually separately invented in China; it was introduced to China in the 19th century and entirely displaced the earlier woodblock printing plus the rarely used Chinese-style of movable type in the tradition of Bi Sheng. Pericles of AthensTalk 07:09, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

I would suggest semi-protecting this indefinitely, or certainly until the reversions die down. Thereafter any such changes should be addressed on the talk page by IP editors before redundant edits are made. Leonardo da VinciTalk 12:44, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
If I had the time or the inclination to rewrite this entire article, I would. Sadly, I do not have either. Hopefully someone brilliant can do so and make this a featured article candidate one day. I've got enough featured articles under my belt, but these days I have no time to invest in Wikipedia, at least not like the spare time I had in the past. Pericles of AthensTalk 18:15, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
I don't know any moderators; aren't they responsible for locking pages? Pericles of AthensTalk 18:16, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
Yes. Usual process it to request protection for an article at WP:RPP, but as I have this on my watchlist and have seen the IP edits I think it is appropriate and will protect. Keith D (talk) 19:06, 5 March 2015 (UTC)
Cool, I might alert them about this if the problem persists. Pericles of AthensTalk 21:46, 5 March 2015 (UTC)

The need of some editors to squeeze into the article material totally unrelated to the printing press in terms of technology nd history is starting to get lame. This is not the Chinese Wikipedia... Gun Powder Ma (talk) 03:12, 19 April 2015 (UTC)

Yeez, the article has become a mess, not in the least because of the mindless onslaught of East Asian nationalists. This having for months in the printing template is pretty shocking. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 03:42, 19 April 2015 (UTC)

The lead section certainly looks much better now. However, I don't think this has anything to do with this being English or Chinese Wikipedia; ideally both should be saying the same thing because facts are not exclusive to one language Wikipedia over another. In fact, the Chinese language Wikipedia page for the printing press says more or less what the current lead section in this English version has to offer, explicitly mentioning its invention by Gutenberg and no one else. Pericles of AthensTalk 03:57, 19 April 2015 (UTC)
Fine. I noticed that this article is a pretty cyclical affair; repeatedly stuff ignorant of the fundamental differences between Gutenberg and Far eastern printing, and movable type and the printing press as technologies in general, has been added by anonymous editors, until it piles up so high that the article becomes factually useless as serious information source.
The article should be half-protected for a year or permanently to avoid that in future. Gun Powder Ma (talk) 04:09, 19 April 2015 (UTC)
I agree about the need for a half-protection lock over a year's time. One could even make the case for a permanent one given the amount of anonymous abuse this article has gotten. Pericles of AthensTalk 04:41, 19 April 2015 (UTC)

@PericlesofAthens, Gun Powder Ma, and Keith D: I just stumbled upon this discussion. All these anonymous IPs are actually socks of the blocked user:ProfessorJane. I've been dealing with their nationalistic POV-pushing for more than a year. We've got many pages protected because of this user, including Lord Chunshen, Huang (state), Huang (surname), Cao Cao, Culture of Korea, Culture of South Korea, Peking Man (see discussion on my talk page). Their signature is glorifying Chinese history and culture ("9000 year of culture", "direct evolution from Peking Man", etc.) and aggrandizing historical figures (calling Cao Cao an emperor, Lord Chunshen a king, Huang (state) a kingdom, Shen Kuo, Zhang Heng, and Li Shizhen "geniuses", etc.). After I got them blocked from their favorite pages, they're now stalking me and quietly undoing many of my edits on unrelated pages. -Zanhe (talk) 22:59, 29 April 2015 (UTC)

Why am I not surprised? I also feel a bit personally affronted, since it was I who brought the articles Shen Kuo and Zhang Heng up to featured article status long ago. In fact, I recall recently reverting an edit recently in a biographical article on a Chinese historical figure (can't remember who) that placed the opinionated adjective "genius" in the lead section's description of him. Unfortunately this is not the Encyclopedia Brittanica online, so any nationalist nutter with a keyboard can edit an open encyclopedia like Wikipedia. It just stinks for the rest of us because Wikipedia is perhaps the most utilized source for information on the entire world wide web. Millions of people rely on it for basic info, at the least, yet the usefulness and integrity of the site is easily compromised by hacks like this ProfessorJane. It's a good thing people like you are around to bother cleaning up the mess. There's no way I could invest that much time in Wikipedia anymore. Thanks for sharing. Pericles of AthensTalk 08:55, 30 April 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for all your hard work, PericlesofAthens! I've come across many of your expertly written articles, and no one has done as much quality work as you did on Chinese history since your (semi-)retirement. I also find it frustrating that Wikipedia still allows anonymous IPs to edit. A big chunk of my time is wasted on repairing damage done by IP vandals and IP-hopping sockpuppets of banned users such as ProfessorJane. That is unfortunately the reality we have to deal with. -Zanhe (talk) 04:33, 1 May 2015 (UTC)

Article content[edit]

It seems to me that too much of this article is about the (early) historical development of the press, to the exclusion of the use and social context of the printing press in contemporary times. I propose either creating History of the printing press, and writing more on the modern uses of the press in this article. Or, alternatively, to make it clear that this article is primarily about the historical printing press, and to have a hatnote at the top of the article that links to an article about contemporary issues, perhaps to Printing or Publishing. LK (talk) 02:45, 27 April 2015 (UTC)

Before you create another article, have a look at the History of printing article which is the major article on the broad topic and probably contains most of the material that you want to move. For some reason there wasn't a "Main" reference to this (there now is) which may be why the history content has grown. The section "The Printing Revolution" certainly belongs there. If there is historical material here not in that article then that may be the place to put it. Chris55 (talk) 21:36, 29 April 2015 (UTC)
The question remains though, is this article about the historical device, the hand powered printing press; Or is it about printing presses in general, including modern rotary printing presses? If the former, the article content is appropriate, but we should note in the lead that it is about the historical device. If the latter, this article needs serious trimming, and move of much of the material to either History of printing or History of the printing press. Which alternative seems more appropriate to the people here? LK (talk) 06:16, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
This article should keep enough of a timeline to give context though. A naive reader of this article alone should still get enough information to learn which century the major innovations took place in (printed bible at high cost, printing cheap enough to use for other books, powered presses to print newspapers in bulk, fast typesetting to allow the distribution of breaking news). Also the contemporary processes still used should describe their own innovation and introduction.
The detail beyond that though could well move into history of printing. Andy Dingley (talk) 09:34, 4 May 2015 (UTC)
I think the problems are worse at History of printing than here. That is pretty hopeless at the 20th century, and I note its definition of "printing press" excludes the dominant modern technique, rather questionably it seems to me: "As a method of creating reproductions for mass consumption, The printing press has been superseded by the advent of offset printing". I think this one is sufficiently clear as to its subject, & if not clarification should be added to the lead. Johnbod (talk) 13:40, 4 May 2015 (UTC)

I think that the article should include a portion that mentions the factors that allowed the rpinting press to be used worldwide. Specifically, had it not been for Genghis Khan and his amazing empire, the printing press wouldn't have made it from Europe, through the Middle East, and to China.Astrocat2374 (talk) 08:10, 27 April 2017 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 18 August 2015[edit]

It's too much work to get around this 'semi-protected' thing, but the remark that "Europe, before the introduction of printing, was a manuscript culture, where scribes would hand-copy a few books a day" is ludicrous. Scribes could copy a few lines per day, but obviously not a few books.

Suggested change:

"Europe, before the introduction of printing, was a manuscript culture, where scribes would hand-copy two to three folios a day."

Reference: Gumbert, J.P., ‘The Speed of Scribes’, in: Emma Conello en Giuseppe De Gregorio eds., Scribi e colofoni: Le sottoscrizioni di copisti dalle origini all’avvento della stampa. Atti del seminario di Erice X Colloquio del Comité international de paléographie latine (23-28 ottobre 1993) (Spoleto: Centro Italiano di studi sull’alto medioevo 1995) 57–69.

TjamkeS (talk) 08:44, 18 August 2015 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done Changed "books" to "pages" Cannolis (talk) 00:03, 19 August 2015 (UTC)

Speed of printing press[edit]

In the lead the claim is made that 3600 pages a day could be printed based on a 15 hour workday. This works out to 4 pages a minute, non-stop for 15 hours. In lead too, is the claim that block printing yields 40 pages a day, which works out to about 25 minutes to print a single page. I find this discrepancy incredulous. These two processes are similar, one canot take a hundred times longer to complete compared with the other. I'm removing until better citations are produced. LK (talk) 04:50, 6 May 2016 (UTC)

According to this book, Publishing, Culture, and Power in Early Modern China, Stanford University Press, 2004, by Kai-wing Chow, a historian at the U of Illinois[1], printing rates were similar. On page 70 of the book he states that a skilled printer in China could print about 1500 pages a day on woodblock, while a similar printer on a printing press could print about 1000 pages a day. He also states that the most time consuming part of wood block printing was the carving of the blocks. The book itself is well cited, by a respected academic, printed at a prestigious academic press -- a quintessential reliable source. LK (talk) 05:36, 6 May 2016 (UTC)

I'm also removing from the text the ridiculous claim that the printing press is 90 times faster than Chinese block printing. It was comparing pages to books. LK (talk) 09:32, 10 May 2017 (UTC)

Cylinder press redirect[edit]

Why does cylinder press redirect here when the term is not ever mentioned in the body of the article? This article is about the printing press for letterpress, and while cylinder presses for letterpress do exist (but, again, are not mentioned here), the term can alternatively (and perhaps even more commonly) refer to an etching press. Any thoughts about un-doing the redirect? (If anything, cylinder press should redirect here, but that would still ignore its, in my view, primary definition as an etching press). -Michellecornelison (talk) 02:29, 11 November 2016 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 27 April 2017[edit]

Invention: Genghis Khan was the person that spread the printing press throughout the whole world. Because Genghis Khan accepted any religion into his empire, many people were able to use the printing press to write books, etc.

The printing press was invented by the Chinese, then later was discovered by Johannes Gutenberg. According to “Who Invented the Printing Press?” it states that “Nearly 600 years before Gutenberg, Chinese monks were setting ink to paper using a method known as block printing, in which wooden blocks are coated with ink and pressed to sheets of paper.” This means that the Chinese were the first ones to use the printing press long way before Johannes Gutenberg did. The wooden blocks that were used for the early printing process was also used in different countries such as, Japan and Korea.

Woodblock printing came in the eleventh century. It was when a Chinese commoner name Bi Sheng created and developed the world’s first movable type printing press. Even though Bi Sheng was a commoner and did not leave much historical trails, his methods of printing was well documented by a scholar and scientist named Shen Kuo. Omfgkels (talk) 23:28, 27 April 2017 (UTC)

Not done: it's not clear what changes you want to be made. Please mention the specific changes in a "change X to Y" format. JTP (talkcontribs) 00:37, 28 April 2017 (UTC)

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Semi-protected edit request on 1 February 2018[edit]

caca caquita — Preceding unsigned comment added by Pakocho (talkcontribs) 12:38, 1 February 2018 (UTC)

Too Eurocentric[edit]

Chronologically, the Chinese came first, then Koreans, before Gutenberg, but the first sentence of the second paragraph gives it all to Gutenberg and then it launches only into Gutenberg, like the Chinese and Koreans did nothing. For all other historical objects, the order with which it was invented in, not by the Eurocentric knowledge of who invented it comes first, not thrown in first. Therefore, Tang should come before Gutenberg, then Koreans, etc in the lead. Also, to say outright in the redirection that "Gutenberg invented it" is rather brash. "This article is about the historical device created by Johannes Gutenberg." Umm... Clearly, Tang comes before Gutenberg. Please follow the chronological order of the invention and give credit where it is really due, using the names of the Chinese people involved before giving it to Gutenberg, who is only thought to have done it in Europe and only worldwide contribution is adjustable brackets for printing, rather than go on about how he invented the Printing Press, when he didn't. The article states this later on, yes, but it's kinda weird to see an article contradict itself and name a European, but fail to name a Chinese person in the lead of the article. Comes off as PoCs can't be named, but the whole race is credited, but Europeans--oh well, gotta name them. It comes off wrong. And before you say anything about me, I'm not effing Chinese. I'm pointing out that it's slanted and needs serious fixing to be in line with other historical objects and articles about said objects.--KimYunmi (talk) 01:24, 15 June 2018 (UTC)

This is an article on the printing press, not printing. We also have specific articles on history of printing in East Asia etc.
So what's the Asian involvement in printing, as it concerns either the press, or movable type, as are the focus here? Andy Dingley (talk) 02:16, 15 June 2018 (UTC)