Everyone who was born without a smartphone in their crib knows how a printing press works... in theory. You line up the type, ink up the slate, slap a piece of paper on, and then press down to print. Easy money. But the beauty of these historically important devices is in the details.
Last week we brought you inside the Common Press, a letterpress studio where printing methods of yore are reinvigorated in the name of art. As much as the Press is engaged in making new things, the technological history being preserved there is vast.
Before computers became the sole progenitors of almost all our visual artifacts, printing was a labor-intensive task that involved applying incredible pressure to inked blocks using machines weighing thousands of pounds. At the Common Press, in the basement of the University of Pennsylvania's Fine Arts Building,…