There was a time when flyers and books and newspapers were created not by a person sitting at a computer keyboard, but by people standing for hour after hour setting type – letter, by letter, by hand.
The first man to demonstrate the practicability of movable type was Johannes Gutenberg.
A former stonecutter and goldsmith, Gutenberg devised an alloy of lead, tin and antinomy that would melt at low temperature, cast well in the die, and be durable in the press. It was then possible to use and reuse the separate pieces of type, as long as the metal in which they were cast did not wear down, simply by arranging them in the desired order.
The mirror image of each letter (rather than entire words or phrases), was carved in relief on a small block. Individual letters, easily movable, were put together to form words; words separated by blank spaces formed lines of type; and lines of type were brought together to make up a page.
Since letters could be arranged into any format, an infinite variety of texts could be printed by reusing and resetting the type.
That was back when each page was printed, one after an another, with the paper being inserted one page at a time into a printing press.
Each page had it’s own plate of type, which was coated with a thin layer of ink, and then pressed against a sheet of paper to print the final image.
All images © 2012 CKB