Sharp Serif Text

Sharp Serif is an ode to the classical models of the 15th-century Italian masters and French renaissance types, alchemically reconfigured for the present day. The second textface by Lucas Sharp, Sharp Serif combines the novel ideation of its creator with the ineffable qualities of these classical forms into a contemporary serif text face that is both beautiful and eminently accessible.
Type Director: Lucas Sharp. Design: Connor Davenport, My-Lan Thuong, Léna Le Pommelet. Engineer: Calvin Kwok. Kerning: Igino Marini, Lucas Sharp
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V.1 May 2024
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Brick stamps were used by the Akkadian Empire (2334–2154 BCE) in Mesopotamia in order to dedicate the bricks used in temples, by inscribing the name of the ruler. A typical brick stamp of the ruler Naram-Sin for example would read: Naram-sin builder, the temple of Goddess Inanna. Not all the bricks of a temple would be imprinted in this way, but only several of them, enough to make clear who built the temple and for which god. The reason for using stamps was to replace the slow and cumbersome process of inscribing the bricks by hand

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In China, seals have been used since at least the Shang dynasty (2nd millennium BCE). In the Western Zhou, sets of seal stamps were encased in blocks of type and used on clay moulds for casting bronzes. By the end of the 3rd century BCE, seals were also used for printing on pottery. In the Northern dynasties textual sources contain references to wooden seals with up to 120 characters. The seals had a religious element to them. Daoists used seals as healing devices by impressing therapeutic characters onto the flesh of sick people. They were also used to stamp food, creating a talismanic character to ward off disease. The first evidence of these practices appeared under a Buddhist context in the mid 5th century CE. Centuries later, seals were used to create hundreds of Buddha images.

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... there were some major diversities which led perhaps to development in different directions. Chinese seals were mostly made in a square or rectangular shape with a flat base, inscribed with characters in reverse, and used to stamp on paper. These characteristics are very close to those of block printing. Although the surface and inscriptions of most seals were small or limited, some wooden seals were as large as printing blocks and were inscribed with texts more than one hundred characters long. The seals of the West, on the other hand, were cylindrical or scaraboid, round or oval, and inscribed primarily with pictures or designs and only occasionally with writing. The cylindrical seals used to roll over clay had no potential to develop into a printing surface.— Tsien Tsuen-hsuin

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According to the Book of the Southern Qi, in the 480s, a man named Gong Xuanyi styled himself Gong the Sage and "said that a supernatural being had given him a jade seal jade block writing, which did not require a brush: one blew on the paper and characters formed." He then used his powers to mystify a local governor. Eventually he was dealt with by the governor's successor, who presumably executed Gong. Timothy Hugh Barrett postulates that Gong's magical jade block was actually a printing device, and Gong was one of the first, if not the first printer. The semi-mythical record of him therefore describes his usage of the printing process to deliberately bewilder onlookers and create an image of mysticism around himself. However woodblock print flower patterns applied to silk in three colours have been found dated from the Han dynasty (before AD 220). Inscribed seals made of metal or stone, especially jade, and inscribed stone tablets probably provided inspiration for the invention of printing. Copies of classical texts on tablets were erected in a public place in Luoyang during the Han dynasty for scholars and students to copy. The Suishu jingjizhi, the blibography of the official history of the Sui dynasty, includes several ink-squeeze rubbings, believed to have led to the early duplication of texts that inspired printing. A stone inscription cut in reverse dating from the first half of the 6th century implies that it may have been a large printing block. The rise of printing was greatly influenced by Mahayana Buddhism. According to Mahayana beliefs, religious texts hold intrinsic value for carrying the Buddha's word and act as talismanic objects containing sacred power capable of warding off evil spirits. By copying and preserving these texts, Buddhists could accrue personal merit. As a consequence the idea of printing and its advantages in replicating texts quickly became apparent to Buddhists, who by the 7th century, were using woodblocks to create apotropaic documents. These Buddhist texts were printed specifically as ritual items and were not widely circulated or meant for public consumption. Instead they were buried in consecrated ground. The earliest extant example of this type of printed matter is a fragment of a dhāraṇī (Buddhist spell) miniature scroll written in Sanskrit unearthed in a tomb in Xi'an. It is called the Great spell of unsullied pure light (Wugou jingguang da tuoluoni jing and was printed using woodblock during the Tang dynasty, c. 650–670 AD. A similar piece, the Saddharma pundarika sutra, was also discovered and dated to 690 to 699.

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Following the maturation of woodblock printing, official, commercial, and private publishing businesses emerged while the size and number of collections grew exponentially. The Song dynasty alone accounts for some 700 known private collections, more than triple the number of all the preceding centuries combined. Private libraries of 10–20,000 juan became commonplace while six individuals owned collections of over 30,000 juan. The earliest extant private Song library catalogue lists 1,937 titles in 24,501 juan. Zhou Mi's collection numbered 42,000 juan, Chen Zhensun's collection lists 3,096 titles in 51,180 juan, and Ye Mengde (1077–1148) as well as one other individual owned libraries of 6,000 titles in 100,000 juan. The majority of which were secular in nature. Texts contained material such as medicinal instruction or came in the form of a leishu, a type of encyclopedic reference book used to help examination candidates. Imperial establishments such as the Three Institutes: Zhaowen Institute, History Institute, and Jixian Institute also followed suit. At the start of the dynasty the Three Institutes' holdings numbered 13,000 juan, by the year 1023 39,142 juan, by 1068 47,588 juan, and by 1127 73,877 juan. The Three Institutes were one of several imperial libraries, with eight other major palace libraries, not including imperial academies. According to Weng Tongwen, by the 11th century, central government offices were saving tenfold by substituting earlier manuscripts with printed versions. The impact of woodblock printing on Song society is illustrated in the following exchange between Emperor Zhenzong and Xing Bing in the year 1005: The emperor went to the Directorate of Education to inspect the Publications Office. He asked Xing Bing how many woodblocks were kept there. Bing replied, "At the start of our dynasty, there were fewer than four thousand. Today, there are more than one hundred thousand. The classics and histories, together with standard commentaries, are all fully represented. When I was young and devoted myself to learning, there were only one or two scholars in every hundred who possessed copies of all the classics and commentaries. There was no way to copy so many works. Today, printed editions of these works are abundant, and officials and commoners alike have them in their homes. Scholars are fortunate indeed to have been born in such an era as ours!

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In 1076, the 39 year old Su Shi remarked upon the unforeseen effect an abundance of books had on examination candidates: Woodblock printing also changed the shape and structure of books. Scrolls were gradually replaced by concertina binding from the Tang period onward. The advantage was that it was now possible to flip to a reference without unfolding the entire document.

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I can recall meeting older scholars, long ago, who said that when they were young they had a hard time getting their hands on a copy of Shiji or Han shu. If they were lucky enough to get one, they thought nothing of copying the entire text out by hand, so they could recite it day and night. In recent years merchants engrave and print all manner of books belonging to the hundred schools, and produce ten thousand pages a day. With books so readily available, you would think that students' writing and scholarship would be many times better than what they were in earlier generations. Yet, to the contrary, young men and examination candidates leave their books tied shut and never look at them, preferring to amuse themselves with baseless chatter.

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Block books, where both text and images are cut on a single block for a whole page, appeared in Europe in the mid-15th century. As they were almost always undated, and without statement of printer or place of printing, determining their dates of printing has been an extremely difficult task. Allan H. Stevenson, by comparing the watermarks in the paper used in block books with watermarks in dated documents, concluded that the "heyday" of block books was the 1460s, but that at least one dated from about 1451. Block books printed in the 1470s were often of cheaper quality, as a cheaper alternative to books printed by printing press. Block books continued to be printed sporadically up through the end of the 15th century

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The rise of printing was greatly influenced by Mahayana Buddhism. According to Mahayana beliefs, religious texts hold intrinsic value for carrying the Buddha's word, and act as talismanic objects containing sacred power capable of warding off evil spirits. By copying and preserving these texts, Buddhists could accrue personal merit. As a consequence the idea of printing and its advantages in replicating texts quickly became apparent to Buddhists. By the 7th century CE, they were using woodblocks to create apotropaic documents. These Buddhist texts were printed specifically as ritual items, and were not widely circulated or meant for public consumption. Instead they were buried in consecrated ground. The earliest extant example of this type of printed matter is a fragment of a dhāraṇī (Buddhist spell) miniature scroll written in Sanskrit unearthed in a tomb in Xi'an. It is called the Great spell of unsullied pure light (Wugou jingguang da tuoluoni jing) and was printed using woodblock during the Tang dynasty, c. 650–670 CE. Radiocarbon dating by the University of Arizona confirmed that the material was likely produced sometime between 618 and 770. A similar piece, the Saddharma pundarika sutra, was also discovered and dated to 690 to 699. This coincides with the reign of Wu Zetian, during which the Longer Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra, which advocates the practice of printing apotropaic and merit-making texts and images, was translated by Chinese monks. From 658 to 663, Xuanzang printed one million copies of the image of Puxian Pusa to distribute to Buddhist devotees.

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Carvers tended to congregate in centers of book production. By the mid-thirteenth century, thus, they worked in at least ninety-one prefectures in south China, but mainly in Hangzhou, Jianyang in northern Fujian, and Chengdu in Sichuan. In the Jin and Yuan dynasties, the centers of production were Pingyang prefecture in southern Shanxi Province and, once again for southeast China, Hangzhou and Jianyang. By the late Ming, the lower Yangzi delta, mainly Suzhou and Nanjing, would dominate along with Jianyang. By the early seventeenth century, carvers would also have found their way to provinces that, in the Song and Yuan, had produced only a few books (e.g., Hunan, Shaanxi, and Guangdong) but had recently started to print a fair number of imprints for the book market. The oldest extant evidence of woodblock prints created for the purpose of reading are portions of the Lotus Sutra discovered at Turpan in 1906. They have been dated to the reign of Wu Zetian using character form recognition. The oldest text containing a specific date of printing was discovered in the Mogao Caves of Dunhuang in 1907 by Aurel Stein. This copy of the Diamond Sutra is 14 feet (4.3 metres) long and contains a colophon at the inner end, which reads: Reverently [caused to be] made for universal free distribution by Wang Jie on behalf of his two parents on the 13th of the 4th moon of the 9th year of Xiantong [i.e. 11 May, AD 868 ]. It is considered the world's oldest securely-dated woodblock scroll. The Diamond Sutra was closely followed by the earliest extant printed almanac, the Qianfu sinian lishu, dated to 877. From 932 to 955 the Twelve Classics and an assortment of other texts were printed.

During the Song dynasty, the directorate of education and other agencies used these block prints to disseminate their standardized versions of the Classics. Other disseminated works include the Histories, philosophical works, encyclopedias, collections, and books on medicine and the art of war. In the state of Wuyue, Qian Chu published the dharani-sutra Baoqieyin tuoluonijing in 956, 965, and 975. Each purportedly in the form of 84,000 miniature scrolls. A copy of the 956 edition was reprinted in Korea in 1007. In 971 work began on the complete Tripiṭaka Buddhist Canon (Kaibao zangshu) in Chengdu. It took 10 years to finish the 130,000 blocks needed to print the text. The finished product, the Sichuan edition of the Kaibao Canon, also known as the Kaibao Tripitaka, was printed in 983.[11][23] During the Song dynasty, the three major centers of printing were Hangzhou, Jianyang, and Chengdu.

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Ceramic and wooden movable type were invented in the Northern Song dynasty around the year 1041 by the commoner Bi Sheng. Metal movable type also appeared in the Southern Song dynasty. The earliest extant book printed using movable type is the Auspicious Tantra of All-Reaching Union, printed in Western Xia c. 1139–1193. Metal movable type was used in the Song, Jin, and Yuan dynasties for printing banknotes. The invention of movable type did not have an immediate effect on woodblock printing and it never supplanted it in East Asia.

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Compared to woodblock printing, movable type page-setting was quicker and more durable. The metal type pieces were more durable and the lettering was more uniform, leading to typography and fonts. The high quality and relatively low price of the Gutenberg Bible (1455) established the superiority of movable type, and printing presses rapidly spread across Europe, leading up to the Renaissance, and later all around the world.

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The high quality and relatively low price of the Gutenberg Bible (1455) established the superiority of movable type, and printing presses rapidly spread across Europe, leading up to the Renaissance, and later all around the world. A printing press is a mechanical device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a medium (such as paper or cloth), thereby transferring an image. The systems involved were first assembled in Germany by the goldsmith Johannes Gutenberg in the mid-15th century.

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In Japan the first Western style movable type printing-press was brought to Japan by Tenshō embassy in 1590, and was first printed in Kazusa, Nagasaki in 1591. However, western printing-press were discontinued after the ban on Christianity in 1614. The moveable type printing-press seized from Korea by Toyotomi Hideyoshi's forces in 1593 was also in use at the same time as the printing press from Europe. An edition of the Confucian Analects was printed in 1598, using a Korean moveable type printing press, at the order of Emperor Go-Yōzei. Tokugawa Ieyasu established a printing school at Enko-ji in Kyoto and started publishing books using domestic wooden movable type printing-press instead of metal from 1599. Ieyasu supervised the production of 100,000 types, which were used to print many political and historical books. In 1605, books using domestic copper movable type printing-press began to be published, but copper type did not become mainstream after Ieyasu died in 1616. Gutenberg is also credited with the introduction of an oil-based ink which was more durable than previously used water-based inks. Having worked as a professional goldsmith, Gutenberg made skillful use of his knowledge of metals. He was also the first to make his type from an alloy of lead, tin, and antimony, known as type metal, printer's lead, or printer's metal, which was critical for producing durable type that produced high-quality printed books, and proved to be more suitable for printing than the clay, wooden or bronze types used in East Asia. To create these lead types, Gutenberg used what some considered his most ingenious invention: a special matrix which enabled the moulding of new movable types with an unprecedented precision at short notice. Within a year of printing the Gutenberg Bible, Gutenberg also published the first coloured prints.

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The great pioneers in applying movable type printing press to the creation of artistic books, and in preceding mass production for general consumption, were Honami Kōetsu and Suminokura Soan. At their studio in Saga, Kyoto, the pair created a number of woodblock versions of the Japanese classics, both text and images, essentially converting emaki (handscrolls) to printed books, and reproducing them for wider consumption. These books, now known as Kōetsu Books, Suminokura Books, or Saga Books, Saga-bon, are considered the first and finest printed reproductions of many of these classic tales; the Saga Book of the Tales of Ise (Ise monogatari), printed in 1608, is especially renowned. For aesthetic reasons, the typeface of the Saga-bon, like that of traditional handwritten books, adopted the renmen-tai, in which several characters are written in succession with smooth brush strokes. As a result, a single typeface was sometimes created by combining two to four semi-cursive and cursive kanji or hiragana characters. In one book, 2,100 characters were created, but 16% of them were used only once. Despite the appeal of moveable type, however, craftsmen soon decided that the semi cursive and cursive script style of Japanese writings was better reproduced using woodblocks. By 1640 woodblocks were once again used for nearly all purposes. After the 1640s, movable type printing declined, and books were mass-produced by conventional woodblock printing during most of the Edo period. It was after the 1870s, during the Meiji period, when Japan opened the country to the West and began to modernize, that this technique was used again

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Not all the bricks of a temple would be imprinted in this way, but only several of them, enough to make clear who built the temple and for which god. The reason for using stamps was to replace the slow and cumbersome process of inscribing the bricks by hand

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The Mechanick Exercises, by Joseph Moxon, in London, 1683, was said to be the first publication in installments. Books were issued in parts until a complete book had been issued. This was not necessarily done within a fixed time period. It was an effective method of spreading the cost over a period of time. It also allowed earlier returns on investment to help cover the production costs of subsequent installments.

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Publishing trade organizations allowed publishers to organize business concerns collectively. These arrangements included systems of self-regulation. For example, if one publisher did something to irritate other publishers he would be controlled by peer pressure. Such systems are known as cartels, and are in most countries now considered to be in restraint of trade. These arrangements helped deal with labour unrest among journeymen, who faced difficult working conditions. Brotherhoods predated unions, without the formal regulations now associated with unions.

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Within a year of printing the Gutenberg Bible, Gutenberg also published the first coloured prints. The invention of the printing press revolutionized communication and book production, leading to the spread of knowledge. Printing was rapidly spread from Germany by emigrating German printers, but also by foreign apprentices returning home. A printing press was built in Venice in 1469, and by 1500 the city had 417 printers. In 1470 Johann Heynlin set up a printing press in Paris. In 1473 Kasper Straube published the Almanach cracoviense ad annum 1474 in Kraków. Dirk Martens set up a printing press in Aalst (Flanders) in 1473. He printed a book about the two lovers of Enea Piccolomini who became Pope Pius II. In 1476 a printing press was set up in England by William Caxton. The Italian Juan Pablos set up an imported press in Mexico City in 1539. The first printing press in Southeast Asia was set up in the Philippines by the Spanish in 1593. The Rev. Jose Glover intended to bring the first printing press to England's American colonies in 1638, but died on the voyage, so his widow, Elizabeth Harris Glover, established the printing house, which was run by Stephen Day and became The Cambridge Press. By copying and preserving these texts, Buddhists could accrue personal merit. As a consequence the idea of printing and its advantages in replicating texts quickly became apparent to Buddhists, who by the 7th century, were using woodblocks to create apotropaic documents. These Buddhist texts were printed specifically as ritual items and were not widely circulated or meant for public consumption. Instead they were buried in consecrated ground. The earliest extant example of this type of printed matter is a fragment of a dhāraṇī (Buddhist spell) miniature scroll written in Sanskrit unearthed in a tomb in Xi'an. It is called the Great spell of unsullied pure light (Wugou jingguang da tuoluoni jing and was printed using woodblock during the Tang dynasty, c. 650–670 AD. A similar piece, the Saddharma pundarika sutra, was also discovered and dated to 690 to 699.

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Compared to woodblock printing, movable type page-setting was quicker and more durable. The metal type pieces were more durable and the lettering was more uniform, leading to typography and fonts. The high quality and relatively low price of the Gutenberg Bible (1455) established the superiority of movable type, and printing presses rapidly spread across Europe, leading up to the Renaissance, and later all around the world. Today, practically all movable type printing ultimately derives from Gutenberg's movable type printing, which is often regarded as the most important invention of the second millennium. Gutenberg is also credited with the introduction of an oil-based ink which was more durable than previously used water-based inks. Having worked as a professional goldsmith, Gutenberg made skillful use of his knowledge of metals. He was also the first to make his type from an alloy of lead, tin, and antimony, known as type metal, printer's lead, or printer's metal, which was critical for producing durable type that produced high-quality printed books, and proved to be more suitable for printing than the clay, wooden or bronze types used in East Asia. To create these lead types, Gutenberg used what some considered his most ingenious invention: a special matrix which enabled the moulding of new movable types with an unprecedented precision at short notice. Within a year of printing the Gutenberg Bible, Gutenberg also published the first coloured prints. The invention of the printing press revolutionized communication and book production, leading to the spread of knowledge. Printing was rapidly spread from Germany by emigrating German printers, but also by foreign apprentices returning home. A printing press was built in Venice in 1469, and by 1500 the city had 417 printers. In 1470 Johann Heynlin set up a printing press in Paris. In 1473 Kasper Straube published the Almanach cracoviense ad annum 1474 in Kraków. Dirk Martens set up a printing press in Aalst (Flanders) in 1473. He printed a book about the two lovers of Enea Piccolomini who became Pope Pius II. In 1476 a printing press was set up in England by William Caxton. The Italian Juan Pablos set up an imported press in Mexico City in 1539. The first printing press in Southeast Asia was set up in the Philippines by the Spanish in 1593. The Rev. Jose Glover intended to bring the first printing press to England's American colonies in 1638, but died on the voyage, so his widow, Elizabeth Harris Glover, established the printing house, which was run by Stephen Day and became The Cambridge Press.

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OpenType Features

Invented by Bavarian author Aloys Senefelder in 1796, lithography is a method for printing on a smooth surface. Lithography is a printing process that uses chemical processes to create an image.

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In offset lithography, which depends on photographic processes, flexible aluminum, polyester, mylar or paper printing plates are used in place of stone tablets. Modern printing plates have a brushed or roughened texture and are covered with a photosensitive emulsion. A photographic negative of the desired image is placed in contact with the emulsion and the plate is exposed to ultraviolet light. After development, the emulsion shows a reverse of the negative image, which is thus a duplicate of the original (positive) image. The image on the plate emulsion can also be created through direct laser imaging in a CTP (Computer-To-Plate) device called a platesetter. The positive image is the emulsion that remains after imaging. For many years, chemicals have been used to remove the non-image emulsion, but now plates are available that do not require chemical processing.

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A photographic negative of the desired image is placed in contact with the emulsion and the plate is exposed to ultraviolet light. After development, the emulsion shows a reverse of the negative image, which is thus a duplicate of the original (positive) image. The image on the plate emulsion can also be created through direct laser imaging in a CTP (Computer-To-Plate) device called a platesetter. The positive image is the emulsion that remains after imaging. For many years, chemicals have been used to remove the non-image emulsion, but now plates are available that do not require chemical processing.

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Chromolithography became the most successful of several methods of colour printing developed by the 19th century; other methods were developed by printers such as Jacob Christoph Le Blon, George Baxter and Edmund Evans, and mostly relied on using several woodblocks with the colors. Hand-coloring also remained important; elements of the official British Ordnance Survey maps were colored by hand by boys until 1875. Chromolithography developed from lithography and the term covers various types of lithography that are printed in color. The initial technique involved the use of multiple lithographic stones, one for each color, and was still extremely expensive when done for the best quality results. Depending on the number of colors present, a chromolithograph could take months to produce, by very skilled workers. However much cheaper prints could be produced by simplifying both the number of colors used, and the refinement of the detail in the image. Cheaper images, like the advertisement illustrated, relied heavily on an initial black print (not always a lithograph), on which colors were then overprinted. To make an expensive reproduction print as what was once referred to as a "’chromo’", a lithographer, with a finished painting in front of him, gradually created and corrected the many stones using proofs to look as much as possible like the painting in front of him, sometimes using dozens of layers. Depending on the number of colors present, a chromolithograph could take months to produce, by very skilled workers. However much cheaper prints could be produced by simplifying both the number of colors used, and the refinement of the detail in the image. Cheaper images, like the advertisement illustrated, relied heavily on an initial black print (not always a lithograph), on which colors were then overprinted. To make an expensive reproduction print as what was once referred to as a "’chromo’", a lithographer, with a finished painting in front of him, gradually created and corrected the many stones using proofs to look as much as possible like the painting in front of him, sometimes using dozens of layers.

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Following the maturation of woodblock printing, official, commercial, and private publishing businesses emerged while the size and number of collections grew exponentially. The Song dynasty alone accounts for some 700 known private collections, more than triple the number of all the preceding centuries combined. Private libraries of 10–20,000 juan became commonplace while six individuals owned collections of over 30,000 juan. The earliest extant private Song library catalogue lists 1,937 titles in 24,501 juan. Zhou Mi's collection numbered 42,000 juan, Chen Zhensun's collection lists 3,096 titles in 51,180 juan, and Ye Mengde (1077–1148) as well as one other individual owned libraries of 6,000 titles in 100,000 juan. The majority of which were secular in nature. Texts contained material such as medicinal instruction or came in the form of a leishu, a type of encyclopedic reference book used to help examination candidates. Imperial establishments such as the Three Institutes: Zhaowen Institute, History Institute, and Jixian Institute also followed suit. At the start of the dynasty the Three Institutes' holdings numbered 13,000 juan, by the year 1023 39,142 juan, by 1068 47,588 juan, and by 1127 73,877 juan. The Three Institutes were one of several imperial libraries, with eight other major palace libraries, not including imperial academies. According to Weng Tongwen, by the 11th century, central government offices were saving tenfold by substituting earlier manuscripts with printed versions. The impact of woodblock printing on Song society is illustrated in the following exchange between Emperor Zhenzong and Xing Bing in the year 1005: The emperor went to the Directorate of Education to inspect the Publications Office. He asked Xing Bing how many woodblocks were kept there. Bing replied, "At the start of our dynasty, there were fewer than four thousand. Today, there are more than one hundred thousand. The classics and histories, together with standard commentaries, are all fully represented. When I was young and devoted myself to learning, there were only one or two scholars in every hundred who possessed copies of all the classics and commentaries. There was no way to copy so many works. Today, printed editions of these works are abundant, and officials and commoners alike have them in their homes. Scholars are fortunate indeed to have been born in such an era as ours!

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Aloys Senefelder, introduced the subject of colored lithography in his 1818 Vollstaendiges Lehrbuch der Steindruckerey (A Complete Course of Lithography), where he told of his plans to print using color.

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Although Senefelder recorded plans for chromolithography, printers in other countries, such as France and England, were also trying to find a new way to print in color. Godefroy Engelmann of Mulhouse in France was awarded a patent on chromolithography in July 1837, but there are disputes over whether chromolithography was already in use before this date, as some sources say, pointing to areas of printing such as the production of playing cards.

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Offset printing is a widely used printing technique where the inked image is transferred or offset from a plate to a rubber blanket, then to the printing surface. When used in combination with the lithographic process, which is based on the repulsion of oil and water, the offset technique employs a flat (planographic) image carrier on which the image to be printed obtains ink from ink rollers, while the non-printing area attracts a film of water, keeping the non-printing areas ink-free. Although the surface and inscriptions of most seals were small or limited, some wooden seals were as large as printing blocks and were inscribed with texts more than one hundred characters long. The seals of the West, on the other hand, were cylindrical or scaraboid, round or oval, and inscribed primarily with pictures or designs and only occasionally with writing. The cylindrical seals used to roll over clay had no potential to develop into a printing surface.— Tsien Tsuen-hsuin

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Dot matrix printing, sometimes called impact matrix printing, is a computer printing process in which ink is applied to a surface using a relatively low-resolution dot matrix for layout. Dot matrix printers are a type of impact printer that prints using a fixed number of pins or wires and typically use a print head that moves back and forth or in an up-and-down motion on the page and prints by impact, striking an ink-soaked cloth ribbon against the paper. They were also known as serial dot matrix printers. Unlike typewriters or line printers that use a similar print mechanism, a dot matrix printer can print arbitrary patterns and not just specific characters. The perceived quality of dot matrix printers depends on the vertical and horizontal resolution and the ability of the printer to overlap adjacent dots. 9-pin and 24-pin are common; this specifies the number of pins in a specific vertically aligned space. With 24-pin printers, the horizontal movement can slightly overlap dots, producing visually superior output (near letter quality or NLQ), usually at the cost of speed. Dot matrix printing is typically distinguished from non-impact methods, such as inkjet, thermal, or laser printing, which also use a bitmap to represent the printed work. These other technologies can support higher dot resolutions and print more quickly, with less noise. Unlike other technologies, impact printers can print on multi-part forms, allowing multiple copies to be made simultaneously, often on paper of different colors. It can also employ endless printing using continuous paper fanfolded with perforations for each page to be easily torn from each other.

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Between 1952 and 1954 Fritz Karl Preikschat filed five patent applications for his teletype writer 7 stylus 35 dot matrix aka PKT printer, a dot matrix teletypewriter built between 1954 and 1956 in Germany. Like the earlier Hellschreiber, it still used electromechanical means of coding and decoding, but it used a start-stop method (asynchronous transmission) rather than synchronous transmission for communication. In 1956, while he was employed at Telefonbau und Normalzeit GmbH (TuN, later called Tenovis), the device was offered to the Deutsche Bundespost (German Post Office), which did not show interest. When Preikschat emigrated to the US in 1957 he sold the rights to utilize the applications in any countries (except for the USA) to TuN. The prototype was also shown to General Mills in 1957. An improved transistorized design became the basis for a portable dot matrix facsimile machine, which was prototyped and evaluated for military use by Boeing around 1966–1967. In 197o Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) introduced an impact dot matrix printer, the LA30, as did Centronics (then of Hudson, New Hampshire): the Centronics 101. The search for a reliable printer mechanism led it to develop a relationship with Brother Industries, Ltd of Japan, and the sale of Centronics-badged Brother printer mechanisms equipped with a Centronics print head and Centronics electronics. Unlike Digital, Centronics concentrated on the low-end line printer marketplace with their distinctive units. In the process, they designed the parallel electrical interface that was to become standard on most printers until it began to be replaced by the Universal Serial Bus (USB) in the late 1990s. DEC was a major vendor, albeit with a focus on use with their PDP minicomputer line.[21] Their LA30 30 character/second (CPS) dot matrix printer, the first of many, was introduced in 1970. In the mid-1980s, dot-matrix printers were dropping in price, and began to outsell daisywheel printers, due to their higher speed and versatility. The Apple ImageWriter was a popular consumer dot matrix printer in the 1980s until the mid-1990s. In the 1970s and 1980s, dot matrix impact printers were generally considered the best combination of cost and versatility, and until the 1990s were by far the most common form of printer used with personal and home computers. Increased pincount of the printhead from 7, 8, 9 or 12 pins to 18, 24, 27, or 36 permitted superior print quality, which was necessary for success in Asian markets to print legible CJKV characters Epson's 24-pin LQ-series rose to become the new de facto standard, at 24/180 inch (per pass – 7.5 lpi). Not only could a 24-pin printer lay down a denser dot-pattern in a single pass, it could simultaneously cover a larger area and print more quickly. Although the text quality of a 24-pin was still visibly inferior to a true letter-quality printer such as a daisy wheel or laser printer, print quality was greatly superior to a 9-pin printer. As manufacturing costs declined, 24-pin printers gradually replaced 9-pin printers. Each dot is produced by a tiny metal rod, also called a "wire" or "pin", which is driven forward by the power of a tiny electromagnet or solenoid, either directly or through small levers (pawls). Facing the ribbon and the paper is a small guide plate named ribbon mask holder or protector, sometimes also called butterfly for its typical shape. It is pierced with holes to serve as guides for the pins. The plate may be made of hard plastic or an artificial jewel such as sapphire or ruby. The portion of the printer that contains the pin is called the print head. When running the printer, it generally prints one line of text at a time. The printer head is attached to a metal bar that ensures correct alignment, but horizontal positioning is controlled by a band that attaches to sprockets on two wheels at each side which is then driven with an electric motor This band may be made of stainless steel, phosphor bronze or beryllium copper alloys, nylon or various synthetic materials with a twisted nylon core to prevent stretching. Actual position can be found out either by dead count using a stepper motor, rotary encoder attached to one wheel or a transparent plastic band with markings that is read by an optical sensor on the printer head (common on inkjets).

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