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Exhibition Items : Drawings of a printing press (1814)

Guery, Augustin (1793-1856)

Exhibition Items

<p style='text-align: justify;'><p>These drawings, executed in Metz in 1814, include plans, elevations and sections of a printing press, as well as details of the ironwork and several tools, a brayer, palette knife, a mallet for planing formes and a knife for scraping the ink balls. They provide details of a highly developed common press which are unavailable from surviving presses. Done in pen and ink and watercolour, they are highly accurate drawings at a scale of 1:5 for the plans and elevations and 1:3 for the details.</p><p>They were made by a student at the famous French military academy at Metz, Augustin Guery (1793-1856). They were completed over a period of 3 weeks from 11 November to 2 December, taking 5 days for each sheet and were signed off by the professor, Bausart on 3 December, the day after the last sheet was completed. Following Gaskell’s typology, the Metz press has a modified Blaeu hose running in an iron till, no head bolts or guide boards, ratchet girth winch. The platen, 29.5 x 45.5cm, is wooden and suspended by screws; the distance between the cheeks is 61.5cm; and the internal dimensions of the coffin is 77 x 57cm. This makes it quite similar the Italian presses in Gaskell’s census, D1 and I1, the latter built in Florence in 1817–18.</p><p>In the late eighteenth century a number of improvements to the wooden press were put forward, including Anisson-Duperron’s massive one-pull press with a two-pitch screw. However surviving presses and printer’s manuals tell a very different story of wooden press building continuing along traditional lines, alongside innovative iron presses. What is interesting about the Metz press is that it applies precision engineering to the traditional mechanisms. One feature is however perhaps taken from Anisson, the provision of a funnel above the screw to keep it lubricated.</p><p>Further information about these drawings may be found in the <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>Archive Search catalogue</a>. Information about the Library’s Historical Printing Room and associated collections can be found <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>here</a>.</p></p>

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