Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Last Lead Type-Casting Printing Press

The invention of the movable-type printing system in 1040 AD revolutionized the printing world. It allowed for quick and easy printing of books, materials, and even money. Sadly though, only a few people these days make use of this printing system. It’s a dying profession as more and more printers shift to more modern printing techniques.

In an article of Cindy Sui for BBC News Asia, she relates a story of one man who until now makes Chinese characters out of lead. Chang Chieh-kuan, 59, owns the last word-making shop in Taiwan—the Ri Xing Typography. He inherited it from his father and kept it running despite losses. From the outside, the shop gives no sign of the relics it stores inside: molds, character types, and many other historical items.   


The shop has 120,000 moulds of different characters and 10 million or more of lead characters. From its conception in 1969 to the 1980s, the shop had 7 type-casting machines that ran nonstop each day with more than 30 people working regularly. But with the introduction of offset and computer typesetting, the number of print shops and print runs has dropped drastically.   


If Mr Chang’s plan pushes through, he intends to convert the shop into an interactive museum where visitors can try making postcards or business cards the old way. But unless the government shows interest in his shop, the museum is yet to be realized. 

"In the future, we might not be able to see the printing press anymore. This is what worries me," said Mr Chang.

1 comment:

  1. I understand the pain that's maybe associated with Mr. Chang's concern. And it's real. But it's a sure future, I'm afraid. We will, of course, move into what's more advanced and efficient. The ancient method could no longer be relevant considering the demand we have today. It's relevance would only be t show the advancing human civilization.