Now we know what relief printing is. What really got the Renaissance and the Protestant Reformation going was the printing press. Printing is for making multiple images, the printing press is for making many multiple images quickly.
What if you could save time by applying even pressure across an inked block with a giant screw instead of laboriously rubbing it down with a baren?
In 1436, in Germany, Johannes Gutenberg came up with the screw press idea, or at least he saw a wine press in use and adapted it for printing. A wine press has a straight-sided barrel with gaps between the staves. You load the grapes into the barrel, then lower a heavy metal disk on top of them to break the skins and crush the grapes. You put additional pressure on the disk by turning a big vertical screw. The grape juice runs out the gaps in the barrel and into a tray.
Gutenberg used the same technology to exert pressure on an inked wood block and paper. Watch these Youtube videos to see how it works:
Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.