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Hand Press (Druckpresse)

Pressman using a hand press Printerís device of Jodocus Badius Ascensius

B. Ascensius used the design of a hand press for his printer's device.

It is a common knowledge that Gutenberg's printing machine was an improved version of the wine press. The printing machines that he actually used no longer exist, but it is believed that their structure was almost the same as that of a printing machine currently preserved at the Plantin-Moretus Museum in Antwerp. It is also believed that Christian books and documents were printed by Jesuits in Japan using this model of machine; however, the only thing known for sure is that it was taken to Macau in 1614, and that the printing machine itself has been lost.

This model of printing machine, called a "hand press," is designed so that when the operating handle is horizontally pulled by hand, vertical force is applied to the forme through the screws. For details of the hand press, see Chapter 1. Books printed by a hand press are called "hand press books," and it is said that the hand press was used from the incunabula period to around 1830. Research libraries in Europe joined to form the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL), and this organization is currently developing a hand-press-book database. So far, data on over one million hand press books have been entered into the database, which also contains data from the Incunabula Short-Title Catalogue (ISTC) database.

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