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Title: A Brief History of Printing - Part II: The Economic History of Printing
Author: Hamilton, Frederick W. (Frederick William)
Language: English
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                     A BRIEF HISTORY _of_ PRINTING

                                PART II



                      FREDERICK W. HAMILTON, LL.D.

                          EDUCATIONAL DIRECTOR



                      UNITED TYPOTHETAE OF AMERICA


                            Copyright, 1918
                      United Typothetae of America
                             Chicago, Ill.

              Composition and electrotypes contributed by
                       S. H. Burbank & Co., Inc.
                           Philadelphia, Pa.


In this volume, as in the preceding, an effort has been made to give the
reader some idea of the actual conditions of the printing industry in
Europe from the time of the invention down to the French Revolution.
Attention has been devoted to the organization and conditions of the
industry, the circumstances under which the work was done, and the
actual life and work of the men who did it.

The method of treatment chosen has been topical rather than
chronological. It has been thought that a series of pictures of
different aspects of the industry would be of more value than the
ordinary detailed study of periods, of schools, and of the actual work
produced at various times which is rather suited to advanced students
than to beginners. This method of treatment necessarily involves a
certain amount of repetition, but probably less than would be required
if an attempt were made to fit the same information into a chronological

To an extent even greater than in the previous volume the writer has
endeavored to reconstruct in part at least the general conditions of the
time. The economic history of printing or, indeed, any history of
printing is a part of the general history of the period. It so happens
that the peculiar conditions of the printing industry had a very marked
effect in the changes which took place in the industrial world in the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The attempt is made to show the
working of these influences in the treatment of certain parts of the
subject. The main purpose, however, throughout has been to give the
young printer of today an idea of the work and life of the old printers,
who were very human men, engaged, though under different conditions, in
the same struggle to earn their bread and butter which occupies our
attention today.


                               CHAPTER I
           GOVERNMENTAL REGULATIONS                         7

                               CHAPTER II
           PRIVILEGES AND MONOPOLIES                       16

                              CHAPTER III
           CENSORSHIP                                      26

                               CHAPTER IV

                               CHAPTER V

                               CHAPTER VI
           THE COMMUNITY OF PRINTERS                       49

                              CHAPTER VII
           HOW THE OLD-TIME PRINTERS WORKED                53

                              CHAPTER VIII

                               CHAPTER IX

           SUPPLEMENTARY READING                           79

           REVIEW QUESTIONS                                80

                               CHAPTER I
                        GOVERNMENTAL REGULATIONS

We turn now to a study of the printing industry in some aspects
concerning the industry as a whole, rather than the life and work of the
great printers. A very large part of what follows will be found to deal
with conditions in France. This happens because the study has been far
better worked out for France than for any other country. While much
incidental information is to be obtained from other histories,
Mellotté’s _Histoire Economique de l’Imprimerie_ stands alone as a study
of the printing industry from this point of view. Unfortunately it
concerns only France and ends with the French Revolution of 1789.
Conditions in France, however, were not greatly different from those
existing elsewhere and for that reason the study which follows, based
largely on Mellotté’s work, will give a fairly accurate idea of the
condition of the industry in general. It is to be regretted that
Mellotté’s book has not been translated into the English as it is a mine
of information of great interest and value to all students of the

The history of the printing industry is hardly intelligible unless one
begins with a general understanding of the industries of the Middle Ages
and the organization of those who were engaged in them. When Gutenberg
practiced printing there was no such thing in the world as a factory.
Perhaps the nearest approach to one might be found in some royal
arsenal, shipyard, or mint where certain industries were carried on on a
large scale. The day of invention had not yet dawned. Machinery, except
of the most primitive types, did not exist. Consequently, industrial and
social conditions were different in every respect from those which now

The work of the Middle Ages was hand-work carried on by a small group of
workmen living in the household of the master; in other words it was
what we call today household industry. Very often there was no one
engaged in the work except the master and his family. Sometimes he had
an apprentice or two. Master workmen usually employed as many
apprentices as they could use. The apprentices paid for the privilege of
learning the trade. As we shall see presently, the knowledge of a trade
and admission to the ranks of the master workmen was a privilege very
well worth paying for.

The apprenticeship indenture or agreement was a contract covering a
certain number of years, usually seven. During this period the
apprentice was obliged to work for the master to the best of his
ability, to be careful of the master’s goods, and to be subject in every
way to his personal control, a control which extended to the infliction
of corporal punishment if the apprentice were idle or disobedient.

The master was bound to teach the apprentice his trade so that if the
apprentice used due diligence he might at the end of his agreement
qualify as a journeyman. He was obliged to furnish him board and lodging
in his own (the master’s) home, to keep him decently clothed and,
especially toward the end of the period, to give him a small wage for
pocket money. We shall look a little closer at this matter of
apprenticeship in a later chapter.

The masters themselves were organized into guilds. These guilds were a
combination of what we now know as trade unions and employers’
associations. Everybody connected with the trade in a regular and legal
manner belonged to the guild. In some cases the master workman became so
prosperous that he employed a considerable number of other master
workmen and devoted his time to superintendence, but whether he were in
this way an ancestor of a modern captain of industry or were at the
other end of the scale, an apprentice just under indenture, he was
recognized as part and parcel of the trade guild. If he were not free of
the guild he was not permitted to work at the industry excepting as an
employee. As we shall see, there grew up in this way an intermediate
class of hired workmen who were neither apprentices nor masters.

The guilds acted very honestly and conscientiously in the interests of
both the public and the trade. While they monopolized the industry,
restricted the number of persons engaged in it, and permitted no outside
competition, they guaranteed the quality of workmanship and product. A
guild member putting inferior goods upon the market or in any way
detracting from the workmanlike standards of the guild was liable to
severe penalties, and as a rule these penalties were conscientiously

Footnote 1:

  A more detailed account of the guilds will be found in Chapter V.

The introduction of printing raised new questions. Printing did not fit
into this scheme of things for several reasons. As a newly discovered
art it did not properly belong to any of the known industries, which had
gradually become consolidated into strong guilds. The printers,
therefore, found themselves outside the recognized trade law.

They were, therefore, taken in hand by the authorities until such time
as their own trade organization developed. Not only was the printing
trade outside the guild organizations, but it was different from them in
several important principles. In the first place, it was from the
beginning a machine occupation; in the second place, it involved
division of labor; and in the third place, it dealt with a product
entirely different from that of the other craftsmen. The dawn of the
printing industry was the dawn of an age of machinery in production. The
product of the printing press was not simply an article of consumption.
There is no comparison between a piece of cloth or a pair of shoes and a
book. The book is a source of information and enlightenment, or the
reverse. It may stir men to the ecstasies of devotion or incite them to
rebellion or unsettle the foundations of their religious faith. It may
serve the highest interests of mankind or it may be in the last degree
dangerous to the church, the state, and the individual.

Obviously, to the fifteenth century mind everything called for the
regulation of the industry. The fifteenth century, like those which
immediately preceded it, was an age of regulation. The idea of the
freedom of commerce and industry, so dear to the modern political
economist, had not yet been conceived. All industry was subject to the
most minute regulations partly imposed by the state and partly imposed
by the guild. All the concerns of human life were subject to regulation,
including even what people in different ranks of life should eat, drink,
and wear. As there was no trade organization to regulate printing, of
course it became immediately the subject of governmental interest.

Scarcely had the art of printing appeared when the governmental rights
of regulation were invoked to destroy it, fortunately without success.
Most important inventions deprive certain workmen of their occupation.
The invention of printing was no exception. It necessarily meant the
economic ruin of the copyists and threatened the illuminators. By the
middle of the fifteenth century the copying of books had to a
considerable extent come out of the monasteries and become a regular
occupation. In 1472 there were in France ten thousand of these copyists,
to say nothing of the illuminators. These copyists were organized into
guilds with charter rights and a definite legal position. Seeing their
livelihood threatened, they attempted in every way to prevent the
introduction of printing. They invoked their charter rights and
attempted to protect themselves thereby against the invasion of their
field by the printer. Not only that, but they were probably back of the
popular clamor which raised the accusation of witchcraft against Fust
and drove him out of Paris in 1465. Their opposition, however, was
unsuccessful. A few of them retained their work. For a long time the
manuscript book retained the esteem which is so often felt for hand work
as compared with machine work. Long after the invention of printing
there were many eminent collectors of books who would not have a printed
book in their libraries. To this day there are a few people who live by
engrossing and illuminating, although not generally by the copying of

An admirable illustration of the beauties and disadvantages of this kind
of work may be found in the Congressional Library at Washington. There
is there displayed in a series of frames a very wonderful engrossed and
illuminated copy of the Constitution of the United States. The text is
beautifully engrossed and the illuminated borders and the illustrations
are in the finest style of modern art. At first sight it is a wonderful
piece of work, but it requires but a slight examination to see that the
text is full of errors. Words are omitted and misspelled so that the
whole thing is practically worthless so far as its content is concerned.

A few of the copyists became printers. Probably the greater number of
them lost their distinctive occupation and became absorbed in some way
or other into other industries or, if they were too old for this,
suffered the evils incident to permanent loss of occupation.

The illuminators at first made common cause with the copyists. Before
long, however, they discovered that the copyists were making a hopeless
fight and that their own occupation had a chance of surviving. They,
therefore, for the most part went over to the printers and found
occupation in the new industry, either directly in their old occupations
as illuminators or in slightly modified form as illustrators. Many of
the early books show hand-illuminated capitals and some show illuminated
margins and hand-painted illustrations equal to those of the finest
manuscripts. It was, however, only the more expensive books which were
separately hand-illustrated. The field of book illustration,
substantially as we know it through the medium of pictures mechanically
reproduced, was soon developed and offered a large field for the
exercise of artistic ability and taste.

The kings and rulers generally favored printing as a means of spreading
intelligence. The fifteenth century kings, unlike some of a little later
period, were believers in education and patrons of learning and the
arts. They had not yet come to see that their thrones, or at least their
prerogatives, might be threatened by learning, and therefore they did
their best to encourage it. Among all these royal patrons of printing,
Francis I of France is the most conspicuous. When he first came to the
throne he was under the influence of those who were hostile to the new
art and attempted to stifle it by stringent legislation. An edict of his
issued in 1534 prohibits printing on pain of hanging for the offender.
Exactly why King Francis took so positive a position is not clear, but
fortunately he very soon changed his mind and repealed the edict. From
this time forward he did everything in his power to encourage printing
and printers, as we have already seen in recounting the history of the
Estienne family. In 1536 he made an arrangement, the first of the kind,
to have a copy of every book that was printed filed in the Royal
Library. In 1538 he favored the printers by granting them an edict of
exemption from service in the City Guard, a service to which residents
generally were liable.

During King Francis’s reign labor troubles arose in the industry. Enough
references have already been made to show that the strike is by no means
a modern institution and that strikes in printing offices are pretty
nearly as old as the industry. There were strikes, some of them of a
rather serious nature, among the Parisian printers in the reign of King
Francis. As soon, however, as it appeared that they were liable to
injure the industry or interfere seriously with the work of the master
printers the king suppressed them by a heavy-handed use of the royal
authority, insisting that trade disputes must not be allowed to
interfere with the successful prosecution of the industry and that the
journeymen must not be permitted by strikes to put a stop to the
operations of their employers.

In 1585 King Henry III of France issued an edict relieving printers from
the application of a general edict taxing artisans. This action was
based on the ground that the work of the printer was so far superior in
character to that of other mechanics that the printer was not to be
regarded as a mechanic at all. He was formally recognized as being in a
social class above the members of the trade guilds and almost, if not
quite, in the class of gentlemen. Of course, we are speaking now in
terms of the sixteenth century and not of the twentieth.

As an incident of this recognized social superiority the printer was
permitted to wear a sword, a right which was denied to artisans
generally. The old prints showing the interiors of print shops almost
invariably show at least one of the workmen wearing a sword, or show a
sword conspicuously displayed standing against a pillar or the wall. The
introduction of the sword into these pictures is deliberately done to
indicate the social pretensions of the printer of this period. It is
worth remembering because although it involves a certain artificial
social distinction which we now consider rather absurd it also involves
certain principles which we should do well not to lose sight of. In
those days printing was regarded as a profession rather than strictly a
trade, and the printer was deeply impressed with the value and
importance of his work, a value and importance which were not only
claimed by him but recognized by his fellow citizens. It was very
strongly felt that a man who made a book was engaged in a much more
important piece of work than a man who made a pair of shoes or forged a
sword. The more of this spirit of self respect, the more of this
recognition of the importance of printing and the printed product we can
recover today, the better off we shall be.

From the beginning printers were troubled by typographical errors. Some
of the earlier printers, like Caxton and Gehring, had their books
corrected by hand after they were printed. As a rule, however, the
modern practice of more or less careful proof reading preceded
publication. There were constant complaints of inaccuracy, especially on
the part of the cheap printers and the printers of pirated editions. The
influence of the better printers and the insistent demands of the public
finally brought about a reasonable degree of textual accuracy. It is
interesting to note that royal regulation attempted to deal with this
matter as it dealt with so many other things.

Charles IX of France issued an edict in 1592 the vital portion of which
read as follows: “The said Masters shall furnish copies carefully
edited, corrected, and made clear to the compositors lest through
default of this their labor be hindered.” The principle underlying the
edict was a good one. It is certainly in the interest of all concerned
that compositors should be furnished good copy. There is unfortunately
every reason to believe that the efforts of this royal champion of copy
editing were not attended with very much success.

In 1618 Louis XII organized the corporation of printers which will be
discussed later. Louis XIV reaffirmed the preceding edicts governing and
regulating the industry, and his great minister Colbert, in 1686, issued
certain new regulations. In these it was provided that every shop should
have a minimum equipment of two presses well provided with type. This
was probably intended to put a stop to the small shops which did poor
work and were very difficult to regulate under the police regulations
which will be later discussed. The number of shops in Paris was fixed by
this edict at 36. Private printing—that is to say, the exercise of the
industry by persons not members of the Community of Printers—was
absolutely forbidden. The quality of the work put out was insisted upon
under severe penalties in case proper standards were not maintained. The
long standing disagreement between booksellers and printers was settled
by a decision that booksellers could not be members of the Community of
Printers, unless they were themselves printers. The bookseller, pure and
simple, who was merely a dealer in books was thus barred out of the

Louis XVI, the last king of the old regime, went still further in the
matter of the regulation of journeymen. By his regulations every
journeyman printer was obliged to register with the public authorities,
to take out an identification card, and to have his domicile legally
fixed and registered with the public authorities. He could not obtain
employment without showing his card and could not change his residence
without notifying the public authorities.

In 1789 came the Revolution which swept away all the edicts regulating
printing. In this ruin royal regulation, trade organization, police
supervision, and every other restraint on the trade went down together.
Printing was unregulated and unlicensed. As an actual result there came
a flood of printing of a very low character both mechanically and

Some great houses like that of Didot stood fast by the old standards,
but small printing houses flourished and the unregulated condition of
the trade was in many respects most unfortunate. In the long run,
however, economic laws asserted themselves as they always do. The
establishment of a settled government under Napoleon and the reassertion
of the old laws of libel and the like put a stop to some of the worst
extravagances. At a later period, the growth and development of unions
of the modern type has had its influence everywhere and the industry has
at last come into its own, unhampered by artificial regulations and
unrestrained by ill-advised attempts to prevent abuses which can better
be dealt with by general statutes applying to all industries and by the
operation of economic law.

                               CHAPTER II
                       PRIVILEGES AND MONOPOLIES

The governmental regulations just described were similar to those
imposed upon all trades. The product of the printing press, however, was
not like that of other manufacturing establishments. The use of books is
clearly different from the use of ordinary manufactured products. The
modern printing press puts out a flood of material which is temporary in
its nature. Much of it never gets read at all and comparatively little
of it is considered as of permanent value. The early presses, however,
turned out books almost entirely. Practically the whole product was of
permanent value. It could be easily imitated, and in many cases the
imitation could be produced at much less expense than the original as
the imitation involved no labor of editors and compilers. Again,
communication in those days was very difficult and freight rates were
high. If a book could be reprinted freely by anyone who got hold of it,
a book printed in a given place could be sold much cheaper than one
brought from a distance. For example, a Paris printer could not compete
with a Lyons printer in Lyons provided the latter were permitted to
print the same books as the former.

But there was another far more important difference. The products of the
printing press materially affected the human mind and through it
influenced human action. When men began to read and printed matter began
to be cheap and plenty, the individual in particular and the state at
large entered an entirely new phase of existence. Minds of men might be
filled with information or misinformation, with noble or with base
desires and purposes, with high thoughts or low by the products of the
press. They might be roused to patriotic action or stirred to rebellion.
Their religion might be deepened, altered, or destroyed. Immense and
unimaginable influence might be and, as soon appeared, was exerted by
this new agency.

These facts gave rise to certain problems peculiar to the industry. What
right had the publisher to control his product and be protected against
a ruinous competition from other printers? Had he any such right at all?
Had the author any right to control the printing, publishing, and sale
of his works? Had he any right to be secured in the receipt of some
remuneration? How could that right be protected? Was the printing press
to be allowed to pour out anything its owners pleased, regardless of its
effect upon citizenship, religion, or morals, or should the product be
controlled so as to secure the helping and not the hurting of mankind?
If it was to be controlled, who was to decide upon the measures and
standards of control, and on what ground? What was helpful and what was

The attempted solution of these problems, of course, grew out of the
accepted commercial usages of the time. Patents and copyrights as we now
know them, regulated by general laws and accessible to all inventors and
authors, were unknown. Their place was taken by monopolies which, as we
shall see, sometimes had much the same effect as a modern patent or

A monopoly, sometimes called a privilege, was a grant to a certain
person of the sole right to sell or to manufacture a certain thing, to
trade in a certain locality, or do something of a similar nature.
Monopolies survive today in certain countries, though mainly as
governmental monopolies; for example, in Italy the sale of matches is a
governmental monopoly. No individual is allowed to sell them except as a
government agent, and the traveler is not allowed to take any across the
frontier, even in his pocket. In Russia the sale of vodka was a
governmental monopoly until the outbreak of the Great War in 1914, when
its sale was prohibited. In the middle ages, however, private monopolies
were very common. It is important to know that these monopolies or
privileges were literally what the latter name indicates. Very often
they were given to royal favorites as a means for their personal
enrichment. They were purely acts of grace and did not imply any
recognition of right on the part of the person to whom they were

Those trades which could not obtain the protection of monopoly attempted
to protect themselves when possible by trade secrets. This was a much
more important protection in those days than it would be now.
Combinations and processes, tricks of the trade which had been
discovered experimentally by some clever workman, could hardly be
discovered by his rivals unless they could hit upon the same thing by a
tedious course of experimentation or could in some way secure betrayal
of the secret. Very few trade secrets can be hidden from modern science,
but modern science did not exist in the fifteenth century. The
apprentice was sworn not to betray his master’s secrets, and the
consequences of such betrayal were very serious. As we have already
seen, Gutenberg at first attempted to keep printing a trade secret, but
the obvious impossibility of doing so led to other methods of

Fortunately for the new art the great men of the time were interested in
it and, as a rule, it was not difficult to obtain a certain amount of
protection by privilege. Venice was perhaps the most advanced state in
Europe in the middle of the fifteenth century, certainly it was one of
the most advanced. The intelligent business men and astute nobles
trained in public affairs who made up the body of citizens of the
Republic of Venice were not slow in perceiving that a condition had
arisen which must be immediately attended to. The matter was therefore
taken up by the Council of Ten, an executive body which had large
functions in the government of Venice. Their methods of dealing with the
matter may be divided into four heads.

The first was the monopoly under which only one printer was allowed to
work in a given town. Such a monopoly was granted John of Spire who, in
1469, was given the sole privilege of doing printing in Venice.
Fortunately the unwisdom of this particular method of protection was
soon seen and other printers were allowed in Venice.

The next was a form of privilege something like the modern copyright.
Under this a publisher or even an author was granted the sole right to
print or cause to be printed a certain book. The first one of these
copyrights was issued to Antonio Sabellico in 1486. Sabellico was the
official historian of Venice and the copyright covered his history.
Unlike modern copyrights, which cover but a single book, these
privileges might cover anything that an author had written or might
write. It is clear that such a blanket copyright in the hands of a
publisher might be used very injuriously, and there is evidence that
they were so used either to extort money or to impede publication. It is
probable that in many cases this form of privilege involved some
arrangement between the author and the printer whereby the author shared
the profits.

Copyright privileges ran from one to twenty-five years and were
sometimes extended. Not infrequently copyright privileges were issued
with limiting clauses or conditions, such as that the books should be
sold at a “fair price,” that the work copyrighted should be published
within a year, or that a certain number of copies should be printed per
week, and the like.

The third method of protection was by a privilege like a modern patent,
covering certain processes or certain kinds of printing. For example:
Aldus was granted the sole right to use the italic character, while
others were given the sole right of printing in some foreign language.

The fourth method was the absolute prohibition of the importation of
books printed outside the territories of the Republic. This was coupled
with the refusal of copyright privileges to all books not printed in
Venice. Of course, in this whole discussion we must understand that
Venice was not the modern city, but the medieval state, which at times
was of considerable extent.

This system had certain rather serious defects in practice. In the first
place the Council of Ten which issued all these privileges, although
usually an extremely businesslike body, kept no record of its relations
with printers. Probably this was not a serious matter for the first few
years, but the time soon came when no member of the Council could
remember what privileges had been granted either to printers or authors.
Consequently privileges were very liable to duplication and the Council
finally got out of the difficulty by issuing its copyrights with the
proviso “If no previous copyright has been issued.” This was very
comfortable for the Council, but rather uncomfortable for the printer,
because it threw upon him the burden of finding out facts which were
nowhere on record. Again, there was no machinery for the enforcement of
the privileges. While it is probable that legal proceedings could be
instituted under them, some other machinery ought to have been provided
to make them effective. Lastly, and this was, as we shall see, a common
difficulty with all early privileges, they were very narrow in
application. Privileges applied only to the territory of Venice and were
worthless elsewhere. As we have seen in the case of Aldus, the products
of the Venetian press were sold throughout the civilized world, but
outside of their place of production they were unprotected by any
copyright or other defence. In some cases they were excluded by
protective laws similar to those by which Venice attempted to secure her
printers from foreign competition. At a somewhat later period some
difficulty arose because of the claims of the Papal Court to issue
privileges outside of the States of the Church. On the whole, however,
the Venetian system was about the best and the simplest of the early
systems for dealing with the problems of the printing press.

Turning next to Germany, we find that practically all of the books
printed from 1450 to 1500 were reprints of old books. The literary
pirate made his appearance almost as soon as the printer appeared. We
have already seen that Fust himself was the first of the brood. The fact
is not surprising, however, when we remember the conditions of the time.
The idea of property in a book excepting as one particular object, a
piece of furniture so to speak, never occurred to anybody. Throughout
the entire period of manuscript books it was everywhere held that any
man who had possession of a book, even temporarily, had a right to copy
it. That the owner of the book had any right to control its duplication,
even though he had been at great expense to make a copy, was not
considered worth discussion. If a man could copy a manuscript which had
cost a hundred crowns to make, might he not reprint a book which cost
less than one tenth of that amount? It was held that ownership of a
printed book carried with it the same rights of reproduction which had
from time immemorial been attached to ownership of a written book.

Men who wrote books wrote for the love of it. There was no such thing as
authorship as a profession and no such thing as the sale of an author’s
work, except so far as the books themselves were concerned. It is true
that certain writers were helped and perhaps supported by wealthy
patrons of literature in the old world or by rich men and politicians
who were willing to pay for verses or pamphlets eulogizing their names
and praising their exploits. Doubtless, there were writers who lived by
their wits in this way, but their case was far different from that of
the modern author who either sells his work to a publisher or makes a
contract for a royalty. If a man was paid for writing a poem in praise
of his patron neither he nor his patron was supposed to control the
poem; in a word, there was no conception of any kind of literary
property, and the printers soon found that there must be property in
books or printing would become impossible.

Germany, like Venice, undertook to deal with the matter by the privilege
system, although German privileges seem to have been less varied and
more simple than those of the Venetians and to have concerned themselves
more exclusively with the printer, to the neglect of the author. As
elsewhere, a privilege was the sole right to print a work or a series of
works in a given place. The peculiar political condition which existed
in Germany made this a rather difficult matter. Germany in the fifteenth
century consisted geographically of what is now the Empire of Germany,
the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. It was
composed of a great number of states of very different sizes, from a
single city up to a reasonably large country. Each one of these cities
had a large degree of self government. They were all supposed to be
governed by the emperor. He was called the Holy Roman Emperor and was
supposed to be the heir of the old emperors of Rome. He governed largely
through assemblages of the princes, called Diets, which were held
wherever and whenever the emperor called them. There were also certain
imperial courts and governing councils. All this elaborate scheme of
government existed largely on paper. It was not generally strong enough
to govern effectively, but was generally strong enough to keep things
more or less in confusion.

The power of the emperor depended to a considerable extent upon his
personal character and his private resources. An emperor who happened to
be a strong man, governing a powerful state in the empire from which he
could draw money and military support, could hold the states, which were
liable to be extremely unruly, in their places and could collect the
imperial revenue. A man of weaker personality or without the backing of
such private resources could neither keep the turbulent princes in order
nor collect the revenue.

The local princes had no sooner begun to issue privileges than the
emperor began to do the same thing. A local privilege was not good
beyond the limits of the small state which issued it. An imperial
privilege was theoretically good throughout the empire, but practically
good only in spots. If it conflicted with a local privilege, or the
local authority happened to be on bad terms with the emperor it would be
worthless. The result of all of this was that at a very early period the
printers of Germany got together and made a sort of “gentleman’s
agreement,” as we say today, to respect each other’s undertakings. This
agreement was practically the best protection of the German book trade
until the development of copyright laws at a very much later period. It
appears to have been relied upon by the printers more than was the
privilege. Privileges were often obtained, partly because it was
desirable to keep on good terms with the local authorities and partly
because of the relation of privilege to censorship, which we shall
discuss later, but it is clear that printing in Germany would have
suffered greatly if it had not been for the existence of the “live and
let live” agreement of the German printers.

Printers’ privileges covered only old books. New books unless covered by
some author’s privilege were not covered at all, presumably on the
ground that in those days, before author’s rights to compensation were
fully recognized, the expense and risk of producing the classics for a
comparatively small market was greater than that of printing new books,
especially as many of the new books were controversial and the authors
paid the printers. Until about 1800 the printer was a much more
important personage in legislation than the author. There was
practically very little protection of literary rights of authors
excepting what came through privileges, and the printer’s privileges
were considered much more important than the author’s rights. Privileges

(a) Public documents, including church books and school books.

(b) The first printing of books from the body of the world’s literature.

(c) New books which were first treatments of some specific subject,
generally scientific, technical, or practical.

The granting of a privilege often carried with it exemption from

Conditions in France were not greatly different from those in Italy and
Germany, although France dealt with the problem by means of privileges
only and had her problem somewhat simplified by unified administration
over a large territory. The first privilege to be issued in France was
granted Antoine Verrard in 1507 for an edition of the Epistles of Paul
with a French commentary. French privileges were sometimes issued to
printers for a single work and sometimes for all the works which they
might print. They ran from two to ten years. They might be general,
covering the whole kingdom, or they might be local, covering a single
province or district. For example, one might have the exclusive
privilege of printing certain books or the books of a certain author for
ten years, or another might have the privilege of printing anything of a
certain sort in the city of Lyons for five years.

It is understood, of course, that a privilege implied prohibition. If a
man had a privilege for the works of an author throughout France that
meant that no one else in France could print the same books. If he had
the privilege for all that he wanted to print in Lyons it meant that
nobody else in Lyons could print those books, although anybody outside
of Lyons could print them freely. The French law contained one provision
which does not appear elsewhere, namely that licenses could be revoked
before they expired. They were occasionally issued to persons not
residents of France, another provision which appears to have been
peculiar to the French law. A third peculiarity is that privileges were
occasionally given to authors for the control of their works, but
without the right to print them or to sell them. In such a case as that
the printer would have to get another privilege to print and sell the
books. He would have to pay the author for the right to do so. The
question of privilege in France, like the question of censorship, which
we shall soon take up, was greatly complicated by the multiplication of
authorities and consequent conflict and confusion. Privileges might be
issued by the king, by the Parliament of Paris (a misleading name, as
the Parliament of Paris was a judicial and not a legislative body), by
the University of Paris, and by the Provost of Paris. The tendency in
all things French, however, from early in the 15th century to the French
Revolution was toward the concentration of power, so that the right to
issue privileges was gradually concentrated in the hands of the king.

                              CHAPTER III

To the mind of the fifteenth or sixteenth century man the protection of
church and state and of the public was a very much more important matter
than the protection of the printer or the author, and it was seen that
the printing press might easily distill a venom which would poison the
minds of men and threaten the health of institutions. Measures to
prevent this occurrence went hand in hand with the granting of
privileges. It was only natural that they should do so as they might
well be regarded as conditions upon which the privilege should be
granted, or, as the idea developed, upon which the trade should be
exercised. France early decreed that every piece of printing put out in
the kingdom must be certified as “containing nothing contrary to faith,
good manners, public peace, and the royal authority.” Theoretically,
nothing could be more admirable. Doubtless many of us today would like
to be assured that all printed matter should meet these requirements. It
is obvious, however, that such regulations were liable to work very
badly in practice. What constitutes faith, good manners, public peace,
and the royal authority? These are, to a considerable extent, matters of
opinion. It may happen that the royal authority becomes tyranny and
ought to be opposed rather than supported. In the hands of the
narrow-minded, ignorant, and unscrupulous, censorship laws may easily
open the way to intolerable abuses. As a matter of fact, they have only
too often done so, and it is for that reason that we in the United
States today insist upon freedom of the press.

Possible injury to the faith was very early perceived by the church. As
guardian of the faith and morals of the people, the church felt
constrained to see that nothing with heretical or immoral tendencies
should be placed in the hands of the faithful. Just as Venice led the
way in laws relating to privilege, so she was prominent in the matter of
censoring books. Usually the body which issued licenses had charge of
the censorship as well. It might not distrust the ecclesiastical
examination and censoring of the books, but it made the censorship
effective by its refusal of privilege. Later, as we shall see, when this
procedure did not prove entirely effective other methods were taken to
punish the printers and the authors of books which were deemed
injurious. The first book which appeared with the approval of the
ecclesiastical authorities was printed in 1480. This approval at first
had nothing to do with the privilege to print, but was rather a
commendation to the attention of the faithful.

In 1487, however, the Pope (Innocent VIII) issued a bull against
objectionable books. This bull was addressed to the States of the
Church, Italy, Germany, France, Spain, England, and Scotland. As a
result, probably, of this bull, Venice enacted a requirement in 1508
that the approval of the Church should precede the granting of any
privilege to print. In 1515 the Lateran Council established the
principle of strict censorship. The religious troubles of the sixteenth
century had much to do with the application of this principle. In the
Protestant countries it was applied much less vigorously than in the
Catholic countries. It must not be understood, however, that the
Protestants had any broader or more intelligent views on the subject of
censorship than the Catholics had. They were just as ready to recognize
the principle of censorship and apply it, but the occasions for applying
it were, or seemed to be, less frequent. Venice, although always a
Catholic country, was careful to keep herself as independent of Rome as
possible. The Venetians consequently kept the reins in their own hands
with regard to the censorship of books as well as in other matters,
although they co-operated with the church authorities and offered no
hindrances to the work of the Inquisition.

In 1503 Venice extended the scope of censorship to cover the literary
quality of books and translations, the political effect of books, and
their effect upon morals. The political and moral censorship appears to
have been less effective than the religious and literary. In 1547 the
Inquisition took charge of the censorship of books and the punishment of
those who offended against the press laws, and continued to exercise
those functions until 1730. It is interesting to note that the greatest
activity of the Inquisition was in the first half century of its work, a
period when religion was still the subject of bitter controversy and
bloody warfare. The Inquisition took cognizance of 132 cases between
1547 and 1600. Between 1600 and 1700, however, it only dealt with 55,
while from 1700 to 1730 it dealt with only four.

In 1571 Pope Pius V started the Index Expurgatorius. This Index was and
is a list wherein are registered books and other publications which are
condemned by the Commission in charge of it, called the Congregation of
the Index, as being immoral and unsound either in religion or politics.
By this means the church undertakes to protect its members from the
reading of books calculated to injure their morals or to unsettle their

Lines of legislation in Venice regarding censorship ran in certain very
definite directions, namely: the legalizing of custom and precedent,
protection of the industry against foreign competition and preservation
of the excellence of the nation’s press, protection of the buyer of
books against poor workmanship and excessive charges (protection of the
author’s right has already been discussed), and the development of a
Bureau to administer the press laws and regulate the industry. In 1549
the book trade was organized by the creation with definite legal
recognition of the Guild of Printers and Booksellers. It was believed
that the trade could be dealt with better and could do its own work
better if it were organized.

The purpose of the guild was three-fold:

1. To protect trade interests—the purpose of trade organizations at all

2. To assist the state and church in watching the output of the press.

3. To suppress pernicious books.

As the years went by the tendency was for the state censorship to relax
and for the church censorship to become more severe. In time the
censorship became very harassing and very troublesome. In 1671, although
the Inquisition had ceased to be very active in dealing with the
enforcement of press censorship laws, the requirements preliminary to
printing a book were so severe that one wonders that printing existed at
all. If a man wanted to print a book in Venice at that time he had to
secure the following:

1. A testamur (a sort of approval) from the Inquisition.

2. A testamur from the Ducal Secretary.

3. A certificate from the University of Padua.

4. Permission to print from the Council of Ten.

5. Revision of his work by the superintendent of the press.

6. Revision of his proofs by the public proof reader.

7. Collation of the original text with the printed text by the
representative of the University.

8. A certificate by the Librarian of Saint Marks that a copy of the book
had been deposited in the Library.

9. Examination by government experts to fix the price.

Almost every one of these processes had to be paid for. Italy outside
Venice was strongly influenced by Rome and the press was comparatively
strictly controlled by the influence of the church.

In Germany, on the contrary, the censorship was probably the least
severe of any on the Continent. As already noted, there was
substantially no printing of original work in Germany until 1500 and
consequently no special need of censorship. Shortly afterward Germany
was rent in twain by religious dissensions. It must be remembered that
the Reformation, being very largely a political movement, the difference
between Catholics and Protestants followed geographical lines for the
most part. There were comparatively few Protestants in Catholic
countries or Catholics in Protestant countries. The Protestants seized
upon the printing press as a method of propaganda. They consequently
advocated its freedom and encouraged its use. The Catholics at first
attempted to defend themselves from this attack by the suppression of
printing and the destruction of imported books. After a little time,
however, with greater wisdom, they themselves made use of the printing
press for a counter propaganda. Those who were disturbed by the
censorship in a country in either camp could and did move to one in the
other. In this way unless a man had religious opinions which were
unacceptable anywhere or wished to publish books which were seditious or
immoral it would be entirely easy for him to find a place where he could
be undisturbed and probably encouraged.

The early assertion of government control in France has already been
described. Francis I, although a good friend of printing, was a loyal
son of the church, and all the more so because of his unfriendly
relations with Henry VIII of England who, for much of his life, was not
on good terms with the church. Francis, therefore, issued edicts in 1521
enforcing the censorship which was called for by the decree of the
Lateran Council already referred to.

This censorship was exercised by a considerable number of persons. This
was always a defect in the French press laws and was the cause of a
great deal of difficulty and hardship. At first censorship was exercised
by the bishops, by the Faculty of Theology of the University of Paris,
by the Parliament of Paris, by the Royal Chancellor, by the
Director-General of the Book Trade, and by the Lieutenant of Police.
Tendencies to consolidation, however, soon manifested themselves. The
first important step was the centering of church censorship in the hands
of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Paris to the exclusion
of the bishops generally.

The tendency to centralize was naturally accompanied by a tendency to
tighten the censorship of the civil authorities, a tendency quite
opposite to that which we observed in Venice. In 1624 a Censor-Royal was
appointed to whom everybody, even the bishops themselves, was obliged to
submit his writing. The numerous civil authorities having charge of
censorship caused confusion for a time, but gradually their powers were
concentrated in the hands of the Director-General of the Book Trade.

The laws were administered by inspectors of bookselling and enforced by
the police and the civil courts. The laws were very severe. They applied
primarily to the printer and bookseller, probably because he was an
easier person to get at than the author and much more likely to be
financially responsible. The printer was obliged to make public the name
of the author and printer, the place of manufacture, and the place of
sale of every book which he printed. A printer might be prosecuted if an
authorized book turned out to be objectionable. This was a particularly
unjust law because the printer was obliged to take the chance that,
after the book had been duly censored and approved by authority, some
censor, perhaps not the one who had originally approved it, might find
something in it which he considered objectionable.

The penalties for infraction of the press laws were very severe. They
consisted of the burning of books, confiscation of books, fines,
flogging, imprisonment, banishment, and even burning alive. From 1660 to
1756, 869 authors, printers, and booksellers were sent to the Bastille.
At least one-third of these were printers.

The press laws in France were more severe than almost anywhere else in
Europe. In practical operation they favored foreign printers at the
expense of the French. Naturally the result of all of this regulation
was that Frenchmen did not print, and the market was supplied from
abroad. If the laws had been strictly enforced printing would apparently
have been driven out of France. There were, however, certain
mitigations. In the first place certain things were exempt from the
operations of the press laws, such as legal documents, police papers,
documents bearing the signatures of advocates, and small publications of
two leaves or less for the spread of news or for other purposes. This
particular exemption was always the cause of a good deal of question and
a good deal of abuse. Again, these laws were largely held in reserve,
that is to say, they made possible the punishment of offending printers,
but in many cases the offender was not proceeded against unless someone
complained. Again, the judges used large discretion in dealing with
cases of infraction of the press laws. In many cases licenses were
issued in a very informal way, so that official responsibility was not
involved; and sometimes a clandestine permission was given, the printer
being assured that although his book could not be approved no action
would be taken against him if he published it. False statements as to
place of printing were used as a means of avoiding responsibility,
sometimes apparently with the connivance of the authorities. The
personal influence of the Chancellor was very great in these cases, and
it was entirely possible for him to protect authors or writers if he
chose to do so.

By the eighteenth century the condition had become practically
intolerable. There was a great mass of laws on the statute books.
Legislation was confused and contradictory and of the most drastic sort.
The enforcement was sporadic and irregular, depending upon a great many
personal and local considerations. There was no underlying principle to
control either the making or enforcement of the laws. All this, like so
much else that belonged to the life of the old days, was swept away by
the French Revolution. All the laws regarding privilege, censorship, and
the like were annulled in a mass. The press was given absolute freedom
and left without any control whatever. Of course, it abused this freedom
and the condition of things for a while was extremely bad. It finally
readjusted itself, however, and gradually settled down into the
condition which is familiar today.

                               CHAPTER IV

As we have already seen, the early printers concerned themselves almost
exclusively with the reprinting of church books and the classics. These
last required for successful performance expert editorial work and proof
reading. The printers engaged competent and sometimes very distinguished
scholars to do this work for them and paid them for their labor. Out of
this practice grew the idea that the author might properly share in the
profits of the original work done by him. If he were paid for preparing
a good text of Virgil, for instance, why could he not be paid for
writing a critical article to be prefixed to the volume, and why not if
he wrote a whole book about Virgil which the publisher desired to
present to the world of scholars? At first there was some objection on
the part of the writers themselves. It was held by many that it was
undignified and improper for a writer to sell his ideas. Such opinions
soon ceased to be common. The race of professional authors living by
their pens came into existence.

The same questions which arose with regard to the printer’s right to his
work extended to the question of the author’s right. Even before the
author’s pecuniary right in his work was clearly recognized the claim
was asserted that he ought to have control of it. Luther, for example,
strongly asserted this right of control and strenuously objected to
piracy on the ground of his desire to safeguard the correctness of texts
purporting to be written by him. He does not appear to have cared for
the money, as he himself corrected the texts of pirated editions of his
works. He feared, however, that harm might come through typographical
errors or even the deliberate falsification of his writing. This has
always been a real danger, and one of the greatest complaints made by
European authors against American printers previous to the days of
international copyright was on the ground of the incorrectness of the
pirated editions.

One of the first persons to enjoy anything like copyright protection in
Germany was Albrecht Dürer. The city government of Nuremberg undertook
to protect Dürer and his family in the right to print and publish his
works. It is a curious mark of the undeveloped state of public opinion
regarding these matters at this time that Dürer seems to have been
protected more as an inventor than as an author. The early German
copyrights in many cases seem not only to have prevented others from
reprinting a specified book but also from printing any book on the same
subject. For example, Dürer wrote a book on _Proportion_ which was
published in Paris. Before it was completed another artist named Beham
undertook to publish a book on _Proportion_. Beham was ordered not to
publish his book until after Dürer had completed publication. He
insisted that his work was an absolutely independent one, not in any way
copied from or related to the work of Dürer, but his plea was
disregarded, although, as it afterward turned out, it was quite true
that his work was entirely independent.

Throughout Europe during the period we have under consideration we find
two ideas gradually clearing themselves from the confused thinking of
the time and coming into recognition. The first is the idea that the
writer of a book has for a time at least property rights in it, and the
other that old books belong to the public. That is the basis of our
modern thinking on the subject. We recognize that any writer may
copyright his work and is entitled to the control of it during the
copyright period, which varies in different countries. When his
copyright has expired any publisher who cares to undertake the venture
as a business proposition may bring out an edition and sell it at
whatever price he chooses. That is the reason why old books are
generally cheaper than new books. An edition of Scott or Dickens is
purely a manufacturing proposition. An edition of Maurice Hewlett is a
very different matter because Mr. Hewlett, or his publisher, holds
copyright on his works and must be paid for the privilege of publishing.

Another important development in thought was the growth of the idea of
right as distinguished from privilege. A privilege, as the word implies,
is an act of grace. It is a grant of permission to do a thing which one
has no inherent right to do. In England, as we shall later see, when the
idea of copyright came to be seriously considered it was based on the
common law, that is to say, it was recognized that the printer and
author had some rights in the matter.

As soon as it was seen that the printer and the author had produced
something more than a mere piece of merchandise and that the property
right of the producer inhered in that added element quite as much as in
the piece of merchandise the basis was laid for the common law treatment
of the whole matter. The extension of the conception of property to
cover thoughts as well as things was the basis of the whole matter.

It was a long time before these ideas emerged on the Continent. It was
well to the end of the 18th century before these matters were clearly
understood and recognized by law. It was not until 1777 that French law
distinctly recognized the difference between old and new books, and the
rights of the author. This was only twelve years before the French
Revolution. At that time all the old laws were swept away and the
extreme regulation of printing in France gave place to no regulation at
all, which for a time made things worse than ever. It was not until into
the nineteenth century that the question of copyright has been
reasonably settled. There is still something to be desired before ideal
conditions are reached. Copyright laws of the various nations differ
greatly, but on the whole they fairly accomplish the desired results
within the national boundaries.

International copyright rests on the Treaty of Bern in 1887. The United
States was for many years a great offender in the matter of the
recognition of the rights of foreign authors. At the time of the Treaty
of Bern the United States recognized the principle of international
copyright, but we did not have reasonably satisfactory legislation on
the subject until so recently as 1909. In this, as in other matters
which we have been discussing and shall discuss in this volume, very
little reference has been made to England for the reason that a separate
volume will be given to the history of printing in that country.

                               CHAPTER V

The outstanding factor in the industrial, social, and economic life of
the Middle Ages is the trade guild. The real life of any people is not
the story of its wars or the record of the doings of its kings and
nobles. It is the life of the people themselves. The moment we try to
study this aspect of these old times we find that in the towns
especially the life of the people centers around their trade guilds. The
guild was an organization of all the workmen in any given trade. It
included the master workman, the journeyman, and the apprentice. It
controlled the whole life of the industry from the buying of materials
to the selling of the finished product, from the indenturing of the
apprentice to the certification of the master workman. Its peculiar
strength lay in the fact that it did not exercise this control in the
interest of either the employer or the employed. It exercised it in the
interest of the industry as a whole. It did not forget the interests of
the public. It did not permit the industry to be practised by the
unauthorized or outsiders. It limited competition. It distributed labor.
It prevented over-production. It assumed great responsibility for its
members and it held them to a very strict accountability.

Of course, such an organization was possible only under conditions of
production far different from those which now prevail. All work was
hand-work and each hand-worker was supposed to make the whole of the
thing produced. There were no machines of any importance and there was
practically no division of labor. The armorer, for example, made his
helmet, carrying it through every process from the first shaping of the
steel to the attaching of the last plume. The shoemaker selected his
leather and carried it through every process until the shoe was
finished. Men learned trades in those days. They did not learn to tend a
machine. A trade was worth something because the trade organization of
that day made lack of employment impossible for a decent man in ordinary
times. Learning a trade took a long time. As soon as the boy was old
enough to begin to learn he was apprenticed to a master workman, usually
for a term of seven years. Usually he paid something for his
apprenticeship, in some cases a considerable amount. He lived in the
master’s family and was supported by him until he was out of his time.
He then usually worked as a journeyman until he could accumulate the
small capital necessary to set up as an independent master.

Having been apprenticed under guild regulations to a guild member he
became a member of the guild himself as soon as he qualified as a
journeyman. Meantime he had not only been thoroughly instructed in the
practice of the industry but he had absorbed the craftsman’s spirit and
become imbued with the great principles of guild life. These principles
were five:

1. General protection of workmen. This has perhaps been sufficiently
described already.

2. Limitation of competition. This has also been remarked upon.

3. Perfection of work. The guild always stood behind the quality of the
product made by its members. If goods were not up to standard in quality
it was not only held to be a disgrace to the guild, but the offending
member was liable to severe punishment at the hands of the guild itself.
The guilds maintained their own inspectors. These inspectors visited the
shops and the fairs or occasional markets where goods were sold. If they
found poor work in the shop or if they found that poor work had been put
in the hands of the merchants for sale, they reported it to the guild
officers who immediately dealt with the offending member.

4. Honesty in business. The guild member not only made his goods but
sold them, generally directly to the public. Sometimes he sold them to
merchants and sometimes he sent them to certain cities where at certain
times markets or fairs were held, there to be sold on commission. More
often, however, he made and sold his own goods in his own shop and lived
in the same building with his family, his apprentices, and sometimes his
journeymen. The guild stood for full weight and measure and for honesty
in all business transactions. It punished faults in these directions as
sternly as in the making of poor goods.

5. The maintenance of the social order. The guilds were always to be
found arranged on the side of law and order, although that did not
always mean that they were on the side of the king or other constituted
authority in periods of civil disturbance.

The members of the guilds, all fighting men usually serving under their
own guild banners and their own leaders, were an important part of the
military force of the medieval cities. Although they might and did fight
on one side or the other of some civic quarrel they always stood for
order in the community just as they did for honesty in production and
trade. This, however, is closely connected with the further fact that
the guilds had a distinct religious side. The medieval man was not
perhaps very much more religious than his modern descendant, but he was
religious in a different way and paid much more attention to the forms
of religion. Religious ceremonies formed a part of the regular routine
of guild life and in many cases special churches were closely identified
with certain guilds. Closely connected with the guilds were
organizations known as confraternities. These confraternities were
religious, charitable, and social organizations. Although usually drawn
from members of some particular industry, they did not attempt to
exercise the trade control which was in the hands of the guilds. They
adopted the name of some saint who was chosen as their patron. They had
a solemn feast following attendance at church on his day in the
calendar, and they maintained a fund out of which the needy could be
assisted and the dead buried with due provision of masses for the repose
of his soul in case the family funds were not sufficient.

You see we are dealing with a time when the lives of men were very
simple, very neighborly, and at least so far as observance goes, very
religious. It is very important that we should have some fairly clear
idea of these times if we are to understand at all how the early
printers lived, what they did, and why they did it.

The thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries were the golden age
of the guilds. They were at the height of their power and influence at
the period of the invention of printing. The sixteenth, seventeenth, and
eighteenth centuries were a period of decline. At first the decline was
slow. After the sixteenth century, however, the decline was rapid, and
long before the end of the eighteenth century the guilds had lost
practically all of their old-time power and influence. In some portions
of Europe the old guild organization still exists, but its influence is
very slight and its purposes are far different from those of the old
organizations of the Middle Ages.

This decline was the result of the changing economic conditions. One of
the most important of these was the development of the modern type of
production in factories using costly equipment and employing large
numbers of men. The old type of production required little or no
capital. There was practically no costly machinery. The work was done in
the master workman’s house by himself, his sons, and apprentices. No
expensive outlay for materials or plant was required. The journeyman
required practically no capital for starting in business beyond his
personal strength and skill.

Printing was the first industry which could not be carried on under the
old conditions. From the beginning the printer must have capital to
supply type, presses, and other equipment, to purchase material, which
was costly, and to maintain himself and those who were working with him
while a long process was being brought to completion and the product
marketed. In order to carry on the business to any advantage a
considerable number of persons must be employed. Under these
circumstances printing was necessarily from the beginning an enterprise
which required the co-operation of capital and labor to an extent
hitherto unknown.

Another reason for the decline of the guilds may be found in the
increasing power of the government and its progressive control of the
citizen. The control and protection thus exercised by the government
rendered the protection and control exercised by the guild over its
members not only unnecessary but improper. While in some respects
governmental control and the freedom of a well-organized system of
courts did not protect the rights of the individual and insure the
quality of product as effectively as the guilds had done, it was
inevitable that particular regulations should give way to general
regulation and that the individual should not only be taught but
compelled to look to the state rather than to an association of
individuals for the protection of his rights and the definition of his

It was probably this more than anything else which brought about an
increasing antagonism between the guilds and the state in every country.
In the years of their growth and power the guilds, as we have seen, had
been the strong supporters of the social order, the pillars of the
state, and the firm reliance of the government, or at any rate of that
party in the government which they supported. When the government became
strong enough to desire to stand alone, the power of the guilds, which
had formerly been useful, became decidedly objectionable, and the entire
influence of the state was more and more directed against them.

Another important social change was the development of free labor and
free capital, resulting in the separation of industrial classes. Under
the guild system there was no separation between labor and capital, or
between the employers and the employed as classes. The guilds were
associations in which labor and so much capital as there was were
combined in a close organization, while there was neither labor nor
capital in any particular amount outside the guild. With the gradual
change of conditions, growth of population, increase of wealth, and
greater intercourse between communities there grew up on one end of the
social scale groups of laborers who were not members of any guild and on
the other end accumulations of capital which were either in the hands of
men who were neither craftsmen nor guild members or of those who had
larger accumulations than they could use in their own business. This
development of laborers seeking employment and capital seeking
investment was fatal to the guild system when once the progress of
invention made the factory system possible.

One of the factors which accelerated this movement was a curious
combination of high prices fixed by the economic law of supply and
demand and low wages fixed by the ancient law of custom. It must be
remembered that at this time the science of political economy did not
exist. People did not know the laws which govern business and control
prices and wages. They ignorantly supposed, as some persons still
suppose, that these things may be governed by statute, being entirely
unaware of the fact that they are really the product of causes for the
most part beyond human control. In the early Middle Ages wages and
prices were fixed on a basis of custom. The three centuries which formed
the golden age of the guilds were a period of very slight industrial
changes. There were no great changes in population. There was no
colonizing, with the consequent opening of new markets. There were no
modern inventions. There was no particular change in the amount of gold
and silver in circulation. Consequently the law of supply and demand
made itself felt so little through variations in prices and in wages
that it was entirely neglected. It became the custom to pay a certain
amount for each commodity, and especially to pay a fixed rate of wages
in certain occupations. Nobody thought of paying less or of asking more
than this customary sum. In case anybody did attempt any modification of
this sort he was promptly checked by law. Attempts were also frequently
made to prevent by law variations in prices.

This condition of things was completely upset by the changes which took
place about the time of the discovery of America. One of the immediate
results of the opening up of the mines and treasure hoards of Mexico and
Central and South America, with the consequent enormous increases in the
amount of gold and silver in circulation, was a rise in general prices
of about 100 per cent or, to put it differently, a cutting in two of the
value of gold and silver. Gold and silver are just like other
commodities. When the amount of gold in a given market is doubled its
value is halved; that is to say, you have to pay twice as much for
whatever you want to buy.

The opening of new markets and the stimulus given not only to invention
but to production and communication by the intellectual movement and
consequent discoveries and inventions which were going on at this time
upset industrial conditions tremendously. As usual, however, the workmen
were the last to feel this change. Men paid more gold for commodities
because they could not get them at the same old price, but wages for a
long period remained fixed by custom. The laborer, like other people,
had to pay more for what he bought, but unlike other people did not get
any more for what he sold. This condition was made even worse by
ignorant and sometimes disastrous attempts to control by legislation a
situation which nobody understood. Statutes to fix prices and curtail
profits are never enforceable unless backed by a government monopoly of
production. Consequently the extensive legislation for these purposes
was useless. Unfortunately there was also legislation forbidding
combination of workmen, forbidding their passage from place to place in
search of work, and forbidding their asking or receiving more than the
customary rate of wages. Some of this was old legislation revived. Some
of it was new. While not entirely effective, it was much more effective
than the legislation with regard to commodity prices, because in the
nature of things it was much more easily enforceable.

The natural consequence of these conditions was the disruption of the
old economic order. The employer and employed, who had been associated
together in the old guilds, separated into antagonistic, if not hostile,
camps. Capital and labor instead of co-operating contested for
supremacy. Guilds, if they survived at all, gradually became
associations of masters. We shall see how this worked out in the
development of the Community of Printers. The workmen gathered into
organizations of their own which were the ancestors of the modern labor
unions. The modern industrial system with all its power and with all its
abuses came into existence.

Printing did not fit into the guild system at all. As has already been
pointed out, the very nature of the industry prevented it. Indeed it was
not legally regarded as an industry or a mechanical occupation until the
great reorganization of the trade in 1618, a date to which we shall have
frequent occasion to refer. At first it was regarded as an art or
profession and those who practiced it were legally recognized as not
being mechanics and not being liable to the laws governing mechanics.
From 1450 to 1618 the printing industry was a sort of industrial outlaw.
It was not under guild control on the one hand and was not amenable to
the general statutes regarding industry on the other. That meant that
the regulations which were at this period so advantageous to the other
industries did not apply to this one, with numerous unfortunate results.

The industry at first attached itself to the universities. It was
utilized, as we have seen, not for a commercial purpose as now, but for
the production of Bibles, the classics, and other learned books almost
exclusively. As we have also seen, the universities attempted to control
the output of the press until more effective methods of censorship were

Previous to the invention of typography there had been a sort of guild
of the makers and sellers of books. In most places this was known as the
Confraternity of St. John the Evangelist, sometimes as the Confraternity
of St. Luke, and in one place at least as the Brothers of the Pen. This
organization continued to exist as an association of printers, but it
did not have the power and standing of the great trade guilds of an
earlier period. Soon after the invention of printing the journeymen and
apprentices formed an association of their own, which very soon
developed into something like a labor union. The result of these
conditions was great disorganization in the trade. Strikes were
frequent. In France particularly the period from 1539 to 1544 was one of
great disorder. Accounts of a series of strikes in the city of Lyons at
this period read almost like the accounts of a serious labor disturbance
of the present time. Shops were picketed. There were parades of
strikers. There were riots by the strikers and their sympathizers, and
an appeal to the town authorities to settle the matter. The settlement
proposed was so unfavorable to the master printers that they threatened
to leave Lyons in a body. This would have been a very serious matter, as
printing was then one of the great industries of the city, and the
disturbance was finally settled by a compromise which granted the
journeymen some of their more important demands and yet left enough to
the masters so that they felt that they could continue in business. The
great grievances complained of were low pay, poor food (the journeymen
were boarded by their employers), too many apprentices, and the
unwillingness of the masters to allow them to work at certain times when
they wanted to work, such as on the eves of Sundays and feast days and
the like, and to abstain from work at certain times when they did not
want to work.

Attempts were made to stop the disturbances in the trade by the
intervention of the government. This intervention was entirely on the
side of the masters. The journeymen were forbidden to do anything
whatever to injure the masters or to impede their business and they were
denied the limitation of apprentices for which they had asked. Guild
regulations limited the number of apprentices taken in other industries
and it seemed only reasonable to the journeyman that similar regulations
should obtain among the printers, but the royal authority was constantly
exercised against them. This attempted settlement by royal authority was
immediately followed by still more serious strikes. The masters
complained that the agitation was due to the pernicious activity of
labor leaders and invoked the royal edicts. The journeymen alleged
abuses, claimed their rights, and undertook to enforce them by
combination. The royal authority was exercised in the effort to coerce
the journeymen even to the point of threatening by an edict of 1617 that
workmen who interfered with the conduct of their master’s business
should be put to death. This, however, was the last expiring effort of
the old order of things. In the next year, 1618, a royal edict organized
the trade and prescribed the regulations under which it should be

This organization, which we shall proceed to study in detail, was the
basis of the conduct of the printing industry in France until 1789. It
did not bring industrial peace and it did not remedy all existing evils.
As we shall see, the history of printing is a history of industrial
conflict throughout the whole period until 1789. Henceforth, however,
the regulation of the trade, the establishment of a responsible
organization, and the fixing of regulations between masters and men
changed the field of strife. We hear little or nothing more of strikes.
The state was recognized as the source of regulation and as the arbiter
of questions which might arise between the associated employers on one
hand and their partially associated employees on the other. The
industrial struggles hereafter took the form of litigation rather than
of strikes. The outlaw industry at last obtained a recognized,
responsible position in the industrial world.

                               CHAPTER VI
                       THE COMMUNITY OF PRINTERS

An unregulated trade, conducted under conditions of absolute freedom
approximating those of the present day, was not only out of place in the
Middle Ages but was practically impossible. We have seen how the attempt
to carry on a trade under such conditions resulted in a state of
intolerable confusion in the printing industry. Accordingly a royal
edict was issued by King Louis XII supplying the needed regulations for
the conduct of the industry according to seventeenth century ideas.

So far as the industry itself was concerned the important feature of
this edict was the organization of the Community of Printers. This
Community embraced all the printing trades; that is to say, printing,
book binding, type founding, and bookselling. The master workmen
carrying on shops in any of these allied industries were members of the
Community. It differed from the trade guilds in that it was an
organization of employers only. It did not include even the master
workmen who were not employers.

Certain matters were decided upon by the Community as a whole, but the
work of the Community was carried on for the most part by a sort of
Executive Committee called the Syndics. This Committee consisted of a
chairman, who is usually referred to as the Syndic, and four associates
or assessors. This board was chosen annually. Originally the elections
were held in general assemblages of the industry at which all members of
the Community were entitled to vote. Later the elections were in the
hands of a board consisting of the five syndics for the year, past
members of the board of syndics, and twenty-four electors. Of these
twenty-four, eight were printers, eight booksellers, and eight binders.
The type founders appear never to have been very important members of
the Community and probably soon ceased to be represented among the
syndics. At the time the Community was organized typefounding was not a
separate industry, but was carried on by the printers themselves.

The duty of the syndics was to act as the corporate representatives of
the industry. They fixed wages and prices. They adjusted disputes
between their fellow-members and acted for the employers in dealing with
the employees. They had powers of visitation and supervision. Through
these they were supposed to exercise a sort of censorship over printing,
to maintain the quality of work done, to see that trade regulations were
enforced and trade agreements carried out; in a word, to exercise the
same minute control over the industry which was exercised by the guilds.

The new organization was a very great improvement over the former lack
of organization, but it was very far from being completely successful.
Its first effort was to regulate admission to mastership and so to
membership of the Community. The number of shops in Paris in 1618 was
76. By 1686 this number had been reduced to 36 and the process was still
going on. At Troyes in 1700 there were 16 shops and in 1739 only 3. This
limitation was brought about by freezing out the small shops, by strict
regulation of admissions to the Community without which the business
could not be legally carried on, and by the purchase from time to time
of certificates of membership. A certificate of membership in the
Community was a very considerable asset to an individual and on his
death it passed to his heirs. While it could not apparently be sold
outside the family, it had distinct value and could often be purchased
and cancelled by the Community. Except by inheritances membership might
be obtained only through advancement in the trade from apprenticeship
through journeymanship to master workmanship, as we shall see later. The
fees required for membership of the Community and the capital required
for carrying on business were so great that very few attained membership
of the Community in this way. Membership of the Community, however, was
open to the sons of members or to those who might marry the widows of
members, and in a very short time membership became practically limited
to those who obtained it in one or the other of these ways.

The Community was undoubtedly very useful in giving a corporate center
to the industry and also in giving more support to trade usages,
contracts, and agreements. On the other hand its efficiency was greatly
weakened by the quarrels which immediately broke out between the three
elements of the Community and which lasted until the final break-up of
the old conditions in 1789. The quarrel was mainly between the printers
and the booksellers or publishers. The binders were soon recognized as
forming an independent industry and they were before very long
eliminated from the Community of Printers. They formed a Community of
their own in 1686 and need not be further considered.

The hostility between the booksellers and the printers began with the
invention of printing. Their interests were so closely related and yet
so antagonistic that an attempt to combine them in one Community while
at the same time keeping their functions separate resulted in constant
quarrels and in a weakening of the influence of the Community itself.

The booksellers, for instance, were lax in their supervision and control
in matters where the printers were directly concerned, while the
printers were equally negligent of the interests of the booksellers. The
printers naturally desired to restrict the number of printers but they
were glad to see the number of booksellers competing for the privilege
of handling their output increased indefinitely. The booksellers, being
fewer in number and probably richer, were more united and more
aggressive than the printers. They attempted to get control of
manuscripts so that the printers could not produce anything without
first paying toll to the owners of the manuscripts. We must always
remember that at this period the great mass of commercial and periodical
printing which supports the industry today was not in existence, and
that printing was practically confined to books and official documents.
The booksellers also wanted to print for themselves; that is to say, to
hire journeymen printers and so make themselves independent of the
master printers. By their resistence to the closing of the mastership
and by the cultivation of competition they did their best to lower the
prices of printing. In a word, they endeavored to subjugate the printers
entirely. In this they did not succeed, but they kept the quarrel alive,
very much to the detriment of the industry, until the end of the old
industrial order.

                              CHAPTER VII

Before considering the organization of a shop and the conditions under
which the work was done, it is worth while to look into a printing
establishment of the sixteenth, seventeenth, or eighteenth century and
see how the work itself was carried on. This general view of an old-time
printing plant will be made fairly full even at the cost of some
repetition of facts already stated elsewhere on account of the
importance of presenting here as complete a picture as possible of the
life and labor of printers in the centuries under discussion.

Originally the printer did everything except to make his paper and his
presses. He designed and cast his type, he made his ink, he edited his
manuscript, printed his books, bound them, and, for a time, sold them.
We have just considered his relations to the bookseller. He got rid of
his type casting about one hundred years after the invention. The type
foundry of Guillaume Le Bé, established about 1551, seems to have been
the beginning of type founding as a separate industry, although in later
years some very large establishments maintained type foundries and even
paper mills as incidents of the business; but the printer from this time
on began to get his type outside.

Bookbinding came to be regarded as a separate industry at about the same

Ink making was done by the printer until comparatively recently. The ink
balls which were used for distributing the ink on types were made by the
printers themselves until the ink ball was superseded by the roller with
the coming in of modern presses. Even then rollers were made in the
shops for a long time, and indeed the practice is hardly now entirely

The early paper was hand-made and was thick, with a rough, furrowed
surface. It was grayish or yellowish in color and was very strongly
water-marked. It was very costly, but very durable. It was heavy and
hard to handle, especially as it was handled without mechanical

The early types were irregular in face and body as the natural result of
being cast in hand moulds from hand cut dies. The early types were cast
on large bodies and were used without leads. The point system, which
reduced type to uniformity and did away with the annoying irregularity
in size of the old types, did not come into existence until the middle
of the eighteenth century, three hundred years after the invention of
printing. Of course, all composition throughout this period was done by
hand. Women were employed as compositors as early as 1500, but they
apparently disappeared from the industry before long, as we find no
evidence of their presence after the reorganization of 1618 or for some
time before that.

The press was substantially the old screw press of Gutenberg in which
the platen was forced down onto the bed by the direct pressure of a
screw. A few improvements had been made. A sliding bed was introduced in
1500. A copper screw (more effective and durable than the old wooden
screw), tympan, and frisket were added in 1550, and the so-called Dutch
press, which did away with the necessity of raising the platen by a
reverse motion of the screw by substituting leverage for it, was
introduced in 1620. These were the only improvements of any note which
were made before the introduction of the Stanhope press about 1800. Of
course, the presses were worked by hand power and it will be seen that
the setting up of the screw or the throwing of a lever with sufficient
force to insure a good impression was an extremely laborious task. It
was sometimes dangerous, as the screw bar or lever was liable to break
when the workman’s weight and strength were thrown upon it, resulting in
serious injuries.

The ink was good—well-aged linseed oil, boiled until viscous when cool,
and mixed in a mortar with resin black. It was mixed in the proportion
of thirty-two ounces of oil to five ounces of black. Of course, it was
variable, its quality depending upon the quality of the ingredients and
the care exercised in preparation. It was spread on the type by means of
balls of leather stuffed with wool and firmly attached to wooden
handles. One of these balls was taken in each hand, a small portion of
ink was spread evenly over the balls by rubbing them together, and the
ink ball was then passed over the type so as to distribute the ink as
evenly as possible.

Composition was done by the full page. This was a fairly reasonable
method of reckoning, as the kinds of printing were not varied as they
are now. Compositors worked “on honor” and were paid by time. Payment by
ems is a very late advance, not having been adopted until about 1775.

Imposition was done practically as now.

The pressman’s day began by the preparation, through softening and
cleaning, of the balls which were to be used on the day’s run, and the
mixing of the amount of ink considered necessary for the day’s work.
Make-ready, adjustment of margins, register, and the like had to be
attended to before the impressions could be taken. Meanwhile the paper
had been dampened. The old screw press could not print on dry paper.
Paper came from the mill in “hands” or packages of twenty-five sheets,
folded once and laid inside each other as note paper is now sold by the
stationer. A “hand” was dipped in a tub of water. It was then taken out
and the sheets were placed flat under weights to squeeze out the
superfluous water and keep the sheets in shape. After the water had been
squeezed out the sheets were re-folded into “hands” and sent to the
pressroom to be placed upon the press while still damp.

Two men worked together on the press, one inking the type and the other
making the impression. They worked turn and turn about in hour shifts so
that the more and less laborious work was equally distributed.

Two-color work was done by taking two impressions from one form. The
parts which were intended to be printed in red were set in higher type
than the rest and a perforated frisket was used. The red ink impression
was taken first. The type for red ink was then removed and slugs were
put in, making the form type high throughout. From this form the
impression was taken in black ink. As might be supposed, the register
was almost always imperfect.

The printed leaves while still damp were piled under weights to remove
the counter impression of the type which naturally struck through the
damp paper.

The printing was done with the paper sufficiently damp to make this
simple process of removal fairly successful. Later the printed sheets
were pressed between heated plates of metal, giving a very smooth and
glossy surface to the page.

The pressman was paid by time like the compositor, but he was expected
to accomplish a given amount of work in a day. In Paris, about 1575, he
was expected to print 2650 sheets, while at Lyons the day’s work was
held to be 3350. All folding, of course, was done by hand with no
further assistance than that of the bone or wooden folding stick. The
first sheet from the press was taken as a sample or proof. Proving, as
distinguished from printing, was then unknown.

Proofreading was done practically as now and the proof marks were
substantially the same. Two corrections per page must be made by the
compositor without extra compensation. Other corrections were apparently
not made by the original compositor, but by other workmen who were
employed as piece workers on that particular occupation for the time
being. The printer appears to have ordinarily managed to get these
corrections charged to the author.

There was a rude system of cost finding and estimating in force. In
making a price on a job the printer charged first for the paper. Whether
or not he took a profit here is uncertain, but he probably did when he
thought he could get it. The paper did not enter any further into his
computation. He next estimated the cost of the labor. He then figured 50
per cent of the labor cost as overhead, including such minor items as
ink and other special materials which might be needed on that particular
job before it got to the customer. He then added another 25 per cent of
the labor cost, which was supposed to be profit, and upon that basis he
made up his price. Presumably there were price cutters and more or less
unsuccessful guessers in those days as there are now, but the method
just outlined was supposed to be that by which printers generally
reached their figures. The financial success of the printer depended, of
course, on operation. He might so conduct his work that the 50 per cent
overhead might leave a considerable margin to be added to the 25 per
cent profit or, on the other hand, he might so bungle it as to eat up
the 25 per cent and more too.

                              CHAPTER VIII

The workers in the industry were divided into four clearly defined
classes, namely apprentices, laborers, journeymen, and masters. In this,
as in most respects in this volume, the study is based largely on
conditions prevailing in France for the reason that we have much more
abundant material from French sources than elsewhere. The conditions in
France, however, were probably substantially the same as those which
existed elsewhere, so that by studying conditions in France we get a
very fair idea of those which generally prevailed at this period.


The apprentices, as now, were the boys and young men learning the
industry under an apprenticeship agreement. The age of apprentices
varied considerably. They were not often received under seventeen or
above twenty-four. Perhaps the majority of them were received at the age
of nineteen or twenty.

The printer’s apprentice was probably a little older as a rule than the
apprentice in other industries because he had to have a much more
extensive previous education. It was not only necessary that he should
be well versed in his own language and in the essentials of ordinary
education, but it was necessary that he should also be able to read and
write both Latin and Greek. While it is true that after a few years many
books were printed in the native tongue of the printers, it must not be
forgotten that the printing of this period was almost entirely book
printing and to a very great extent the printing of books of what we
should call today religion and serious literature. Latin was the
universal language of the Catholic Church as it is today. It was also
the language of learned men everywhere. No scholar thought of writing a
serious work in English, French, or German. He might translate one into
the vernacular or he might, especially after the beginning of the
religious controversies, write a controversial book in his native
language, but for the most part serious writing was done in Latin. There
was a considerable amount of printing of Greek classics in the original,
although there was not much use of Greek for original composition. Under
these circumstances it is clear that the knowledge of these tongues was
very important. The enforcement, however, of the strict requirements of
this period was a cause of many disputes in the industry. The employers
then as now were ready to hire cheap help for cheap jobs, and they were
given to taking on apprentices far beyond the requirements of recruiting
the industry because they could get a good deal of work out of them
which otherwise must be given to higher priced men. In many cases they
were willing to take on apprentices who did not understand Greek or even
Latin. The result was injury to the industry itself and to the interests
of the workmen, as is always the case when employers take on improperly
trained apprentices who are incapable of development into the highest
efficiency. We shall meet these half-trained apprentices a little later.

Further requirements were that the apprentice should be of good life and
manners and that he should be a Catholic and a native of France and

An apprenticeship agreement was a formal contract. Originally this was a
verbal contract only, a sort of “gentlemen’s agreement.” After the
reorganization of 1618 it was a written contract drawn up by a notary.
The period of apprenticeship varied somewhat, especially before 1618. In
general, however, it was four years. The condition of the contract was
that the apprentice should pay a specified sum to the master for the
privilege of learning the trade and that he should agree to serve his
master with care and diligence for a period of four years and not
neglect his master’s interests nor spoil his master’s goods. In return
the master was bound to teach him the trade of printing so that at the
end of his time he would be qualified as a journeyman. In addition the
master was bound to furnish the apprentice lodging, food, clothing in
specified quantity, and sometimes a very small amount of money.

The apprentice lived in the master’s house and ate either at the
master’s table or at the table set for the journeymen, who also received
their food from the master. If the apprentice absented himself for any
reason from his work his absence must be atoned for by double time added
to the period of apprenticeship. If his absences were repeated he was
liable to be discharged. In this case the master was held to be the
sufferer, the contract of apprenticeship was cancelled, and the entire
amount paid in by the apprentice as a premium was forfeited to the
master. It frequently happened that apprentices desired to be relieved
of their contracts before the expiration of their time. Sometimes it
happened that they changed their minds about becoming printers, more
often, probably, they sought short cuts into the industry. It has always
been the misfortune of printing that a very imperfect knowledge of it
has a comparatively higher market value than an equally imperfect
knowledge of other industries, while the period of apprenticeship
required for full learning of the trade is long and wearisome. The
apprentices were often tempted by offers of occupation as laborers or
even as journeymen in some of the poorer shops which were willing to
evade regulations. The habit of canceling indentures before their
expiration for a money consideration thus grew up to the serious
detriment of the industry.

The printers made profit by taking the premium from the apprentice and
then selling him his freedom before his indenture had expired. The
injury to the industry and to the well-trained workman of this
competition of half-trained, incompetent workmen is perfectly clear.

The masters, of course, complained that the apprentices were idle,
wasteful, and unteachable, and probably some of them were. Boys and
young men were good, bad, and indifferent in the Middle Ages just as
they are now. The apprentices complained on the other hand that they
were overworked, underfed, and personally abused in many instances.
Doubtless these complaints were often well founded because grownup men
were good, bad, and indifferent in the Middle Ages very much as they are

At best the work of the apprentice was very hard. Living as he did in
the master’s house and working in the shop as a beginner, he was a cross
between a domestic servant, an errand boy, and a learner in the
industry. The master’s wife might call upon him to wash the kitchen
floor. The foreman might send him out with a package of proofs. The
workmen might send him out for a bottle of wine or a pot of beer, or he
might be set to work on one of the legitimate tasks of his
apprenticeship only to be called away at almost any time by some such
personal demand as those just indicated. His hours, like those of
everybody else in the trade, were very long. He was expected to keep the
shop clean and in order, to clean the type and the presses, to mix ink,
to dampen paper, and if he were strong and well grown he might even be
put to working on the press. These and a thousand other things, many of
them unknown to modern shops, were required of him besides the work at
the case and elsewhere which gave him his real knowledge of the trade.

The question of the number of apprentices was a burning one. Previous to
1618 it was one of the great causes of strikes and labor disputes. The
masters at that time desired to increase the number of apprentices
indefinitely, to which the journeymen objected on account of the injury
to their interests by having too many workmen, especially cheap ones.
The journeymen succeeded in securing a royal edict which limited the
number of apprentices to be employed in any establishment to two for
each press, one on composition and the other on presswork. The shop
conditions which have been already described show that this taking of
the press as a unit was fairly equitable. In the absence of machine work
both composition and presswork were slow, and had a more nearly equal
rate of speed than now. After 1618 the masters attempted to enforce the
limitation of apprentices as against each other. They feared the
competition of the man who succeeded in getting into his shop a supply
of cheap help which enabled him to cut prices, consequently the
journeymen no longer appear as parties to this dispute.

During the whole period there were complaints that the apprenticeship
regulations were not enforced and that some of the masters insisted upon
taking more than the proper number of apprentices and taking them with
less than the proper qualifications. This seems to have been a very real
difficulty and one which was never entirely overcome. The temptation to
obtain cheap labor, regardless of the welfare of either the apprentice
or the industry, was too great, and many printers found it impossible to
resist it, especially as during the latter part of this period the
conditions in the industry became very bad and it was almost impossible
to make any money at it.

Throughout this period, especially after 1618, all regulations as to
apprenticeship were relaxed in favor of the sons of masters and other
persons whom the masters desired particularly to favor. One of the most
significant and far-reaching of the regulations of the printing trade
was that which admitted the sons of masters directly to membership
without any previous training. We shall discuss this a little more fully


The class of workmen called laborers constituted a source of one of the
greatest difficulties and abuses in the industry, especially during the
seventeenth century.

At this period there were no restrictions on their employment, or at
least none that were successfully enforced. After that period they were
less freely employed. They were ignorant or unskilled workmen incapable
of becoming journeymen. It was into this class that the apprentices
dropped who were employed without sufficient previous education, more
especially those who were ignorant in Greek and Latin. The class was
further made up of apprentices who had not finished their time, workmen
who proved incompetent to hold journeymen’s positions, and men who could
do rough work but had never been apprentices. Obviously there was a good
deal of work which these men could do. Part of it was work which would
otherwise be done by apprentices, part work which would otherwise be
done by journeymen. The unrestricted hiring of these men limited the
number of journeymen’s positions, reduced wages, lowered standards, and
was in every way detrimental to the industry.


In the printing industry the journeyman was not the same as the master.
In other industries after the apprentice had finished his time and
qualified by submitting a piece of work of approved standard, he became
a master workman. He was made free of the guild and ordinarily set up in
business for himself. Theoretically a somewhat similar condition
prevailed in the printing trade. Before the reorganization of 1618 and
the consequent restriction of mastership the apprentice became a master
workman when he had completed his time, and was at liberty to set up for
himself if he so desired.

After the reorganization the apprentice after having finished his time
became a journeyman in the shop to which he had been apprenticed.
Originally he was restricted to that shop. He was then required to serve
as a journeyman from two to four years. At the expiration of that period
he passed a theoretical and practical examination. This covered his
proficiency in the languages and other academic subjects required and
the submission of a piece of completed work. He was also obliged to
submit a certificate of character covering the requirements of
apprenticeship and testifying as to his conduct while an apprentice.

The question of his admission to the Community was then voted upon by
the syndics, and if he was found qualified and admitted he was formally
received into the Community at a public meeting at which were present
the syndics and the elders of the Community. He was then sworn in as a
member of the Community by the Lieutenant-General of Police. Before
being sworn in, however, he was required to pay certain fees. Originally
these fees were small, but they afterward became very large.

As a matter of fact, very few journeymen became masters. The heavy fees
in themselves were almost prohibitive, but the greatest obstacle was the
difficulty about raising the necessary capital. No other business at
that time required so heavy an outlay for equipment, material, and labor
before any return whatever could be realized. The equipment was very
expensive and there were no small jobs such as are found in modern
commercial offices, especially those of the less pretentious type, to
keep the plant going. The printer was obliged to go to the entire
expense for material and labor involved in getting out an edition of a
book before he could begin to get any returns from it. Sometimes he knew
where he could sell the book (Caxton seems to have been particularly
successful in this regard), but more often he did not know. There is in
existence a letter written by Sweynheym and Pannartz to the Pope asking
him for assistance. They set forth their case by saying that they have
sunk a great deal of money in procuring equipment and printing books
which have sold slowly. They complain that they have a large house full
of books but with nothing in it to eat, and beg that he will either
assist them in the sale of their books or tide them over until they can
find a market.

These conditions tended to keep the journeymen permanently in that
position and to confine the masters to those who came into the business
by inheritance or marriage. The printing industry has thus the
unfortunate prominence of being the leading influence in breaking up the
old unities of industry and bringing about the modern industrial system.
It was the first industry in which there was developed a distinct class
of masters who were not and never had been workmen, and in which the
workman could become a master only under unusual circumstances. The
sharp division of industry into employers and employed with antagonistic
interests and divergent aims begins here.

The hours of labor in the printing industry were very long. Throughout
France they averaged about fourteen hours a day, and similar conditions
appear to have prevailed elsewhere. As already indicated, a certain
amount of product, particularly on the press, was considered to be a
fair day’s work. In 1572 the 3350 sheets per day required of a pressman
at Lyons compelled him to work from two o’clock in the morning to eight
or nine in the evening without leaving the shop. This appears from
evidence submitted in litigation. Printers were boarded and generally
lodged by their employers. Plantin’s establishment, still in existence
in Amsterdam, shows living quarters for all of the workmen who were
employed in the plant. They were given their meals in the shop and were
permitted to send the apprentices out for wine or beer, which they drank
in considerable quantities. The men themselves objected to going out for
their food, although they often complained of the quality of that
furnished. Their objection was based upon the fact that they so depended
upon each other for their work that if men went out, especially if they
overstayed their time, they would be likely to hold up each other’s work
and make it impossible to complete the required task of the day even in
the very liberal time allowance which was then regarded as reasonable.

It is not to be wondered at that the long hours, close confinement, and
hard work encouraged the drinking habits which were proverbial among
printers. The natural result of so much drinking was a good deal of
disorder and violence, especially on holidays. There is no reason to
suppose, however, that printers as a class were worse than other workmen
of their day and generation. They were much superior in education and
they were recognized as being of higher social condition. They were
exempt from many of the legal requirements upon journeymen in other
trades, and their industry was more than once recognized by royal edict
as being an art or profession and not a mechanical trade. The printers
were very proud of this social distinction and, as has been already
stated, emphasized their claim to it by wearing swords, which in those
days was the mark of the gentleman or professional man.

The hard work and long hours had two compensations; one partial, the
other very real. The first, which printing shared with other industries,
was the great number of holidays. The shops did not work on Sundays or
feast days. Under modern conditions there are slightly more than 300
working days in the year, taking out Sundays and holidays and making no
allowance for illness or voluntary absence. In the period with which we
are dealing there were only from 230 to 240 working days in the year;
that is to say, there were 60 or 70 more holidays than we now have.
Probably shorter hours and more days of work would have been better for
all concerned. The other compensation was the very high rate of wages.
To state the printer’s wages of that time in terms of money would carry
very little information, partly because of the difference in coinage and
partly because of the difference in the purchasing power of money. The
really enlightening fact is that the wages of a printer were from two to
three times those of journeymen in the other skilled trades. Actual
wages were fixed by the operation of the law of supply and demand and by
the skill of the individual workman. There was what we should call today
a “scale” fixed either by custom or by law. The scale, however, instead
of being a minimum, as now, was a maximum, the variations being below
instead of above it.

Unfortunately there was a great deal of unemployment, owing to the
prevalence of a form of work which will be presently described. This
unemployment was not only a serious evil in itself, but it led to
competition among workmen, who were often willing to work for less than
the going rate rather than to go idle. Another tendency toward the
lowering of wages was the competition in the book trade caused by
literary piracy and the work of printers from the smaller towns or even
outside countries who could do work cheaper than it could be done in the
larger cities. For example, in the absence of copyright a printer might
go to the expense of getting out an edition of an important work only to
have a rival buy one of his copies and throw into the market an edition
at a price based on the cost of manufacture only, while it is obvious
that even if the competition were based on the cost of manufacture the
printer from Lyons could undersell the printer from Paris because his
presses turned out 700 more sheets a day, an advantage of 25 per cent.

All this competition had a tendency to reduce selling prices and to
drive down the workman’s pay. It was for these reasons that the
employers were so anxious to use laborers instead of journeymen, and
apprentices instead of either. All these depressing tendencies had full
sway under the curiously inverted scale system which made the scale a
maximum instead of a minimum.

Journeymen were divided into two classes, day workers and piece workers.
The day worker was engaged under an annual contract which covered his
salary, his board, and usually his lodging. In the printing trade these
contracts were written after 1618. In the other industries they were not
written, although verbal contracts were common to all industries.

In some cases these bargains were collective; that is to say, they were
made between the Community and the journeymen’s organization soon to be
described. Wherever possible, however, the masters prevented the
organization of the journeymen and compelled the men to resort to
individual bargaining.

The piece workers were men who were engaged for some particular contract
or job which the master had in hand. Whenever an important piece of work
was undertaken a number of extra men, depending upon the equipment and
the time in which it was desired to do the job, were employed. Day
workers and men employed for another job were supposed not to be put on
and no additional men were to be employed for it, unless some of the
original group dropped out. The men were supposed to know how long the
job would last and were supposed not to be discharged without eight
days’ notice. These men were paid by the day and were fed and sometimes
lodged like the day workmen.

The workmen constantly complained that in practice they were greatly
abused under this system. They claimed that they were discharged without
notice, that day men were put to work on their jobs, and that additional
men were hired, shortening the period of their occupation. This
manipulation of the job was a frequent device of the masters in order to
finish a piece of work before a holiday, especially when a Sunday and a
holiday and even two holidays came together, as was not infrequently the
case with the great number of holidays then observed. By hurrying up the
job and finishing it before the holiday the master could avoid feeding
the men over the holiday. Under ordinary circumstances he was supposed
to feed his men, whether day workers or piece workers, throughout the
period of their employment, whether or not he paid them on holidays. The
result of this system was that a very large proportion, probably a large
majority, of the printers had no regular employment, working only at
such job work as they could from time to time pick up.

The journeymen were graded as first- and second-class workmen and
foremen. The first-class workman was a sort of assistant foreman. He was
employed upon the more difficult work or aided the foreman in the
discharge of his duties. The second-class was the ordinary workman,
comparable today to a man who would be earning the union scale with very
little prospect of ever getting any more.

The two departments of composition and presswork were recognized then as
now. Just as at present, there was keen rivalry between compositors and
pressmen, each claiming that his was the superior art and required the
greater skill.

In the composing room there were three subdivisions—compositors,
stone-hands and make-up men, and distributors. These last appear to have
been employed on that particular work exclusively. There were no
divisions in the press room. As has been pointed out, two men were
employed on the press, one on the ink balls and the other on the lever,
but these were not separate occupations as the two men exchanged
positions every hour.

The foreman was a man capable of oversight of all processes carried on
in the plant. The foremanship was not divided as it now is between the
foreman of the composing room and the foreman of the press room. These
functions were discharged by first-class workmen under the supervision
of the foreman. The foreman was also a proofreader, at least in part. He
corrected the first proofs although they were afterwards corrected by
the author and sometimes by the master or an editor in his employ. It
was necessary, therefore, that the foreman should be not only a
first-class workman but an accomplished scholar. He had to be thoroughly
versed in his own language and highly trained in Latin and Greek or any
other language in which books were printed in the plant. He was obliged
also to be thoroughly familiar with theological, philosophical, or
scientific terms, or any other special terms required for any particular
kind of printing which the plant undertook.

When the workman became too old and infirm to hold his place or his
eyesight failed there were several sources of at least partial support
open to him if his family was not in a condition to support him. Some of
these old workmen were licensed by the syndics of the Community to
peddle tracts, almanacs, broadside sheets of ballads and notices, and
other things which might be called the small wares of the printing
trade. Some of them did a sort of junk business in old paper and
parchments. In some places there were asylums for aged printers where a
few found entrance. Others became pensioners on the Community. The
Community in France and similar organizations elsewhere appear to have
had funds especially for this purpose and to have used some of their
current funds for charity. Other old men were allowed to make the rounds
of the shops, particularly those in which they had been employed, taking
a few coppers from their younger and more fortunate fellow workmen.
There seems to have been a sort of comradeship among the printers which
made these old fellows welcome as they made their periodical rounds for

                              _The Master_

The master has perhaps been sufficiently described as we went along. He
was the capitalist who carried on the business. In the great days of
Jenson and Aldus and the Estiennes he was often, himself, his own
foreman and best journeyman. We have seen, however, how he gradually
came to be in many cases a business man with little or no practical
knowledge of the business.

In the early days of printing the masters seem to have been more
prosperous than they were later. Godart and Merlin, of Paris, in 1538
employed 200 men. Such printers as these were rich and prosperous and
held in high esteem by their fellow citizens. We have seen, however,
that some of the greatest of the printers were constantly struggling
with financial difficulties. The reorganization of 1618 did not seem to
have the effect upon the prosperity of the masters which might have been
expected. As we have seen, there was a cut-throat competition and even
after the reorganization of the Community and the restrictions of
mastership governmental control had a tendency to grow more and more
burdensome while the market for their wares increased but slowly. It is
said that in 1700 there were not two printers in Paris who were worth
25,000 francs or $5000. In 1700, $5000 was worth two or three times that
amount now, but even so the fact stated shows the prostration of the

                               CHAPTER IX

The printing industry has always been liable to friction between the
employers and the employed. We have already made reference from time to
time to strikes and labor disputes, going back to the very beginnings of
the industry. Previous to the reorganization of 1618 the workmen
generally had recourse to strikes for the settlement of disputes and the
masters in turn appealed to the civil authorities. In conformity with
the ideas of those days the authorities intervened, if at all, to
suppress the strike. The idea of authority was very strong at that
period and rebellion or disobedience on the part of laborers was
regarded as little less than sedition or treason. Social lines were
sharply drawn and every attempt possible was made to secure and maintain
the supremacy of those in authority, whether that authority were civil,
ecclesiastical, or industrial.

After the reorganization of 1618, however, the strike as a means of
settlement was rarely resorted to until revived in modern times. The
very organization of the industry made it amenable to authority and made
it possible to settle disputes by legal processes. Accordingly, we find
that both masters and journeymen presented their cases before the courts
or the executive officers having authority and endeavored to gain their
points by means of laws or edicts. The journeymen on the whole were more
successful by this method than they had previously been, although the
points of dispute were never permanently settled.

The organization of the Community united the masters, but the attempts
of the journeymen to unite were met with constant opposition and were
frequently prohibited by law. The germ of the journeymen’s organization
was the chapel. Originally the chapel was a group of workmen engaged on
the same job and consequently dependent upon each other for its success
and for the regular progress of the work. The origin of the name is
somewhat in doubt, but it probably is either derived from the fact that
many of the early printing establishments were connected with
monasteries, or under the patronage of the church, or from the fact that
the printers were educated men, and in the 15th century educated men
were generally identified with the clergy. In English law, until within
a comparatively recent time, a man convicted of certain crimes could
escape capital punishment if he could prove that he could read and
write. This proof was held to identify him with the clergy, who were
exempted from certain criminal provisions of the statutes. This process
was technically known as “pleading one’s clergy.”

The chapel was soon extended to include in its membership all the
workmen in one shop, and in this significance the name is still in use.
The organization of journeymen into chapels runs back to the early days
of printing. There never seems to have been any serious attempt to
prevent this organization in individual shops for the reason that such
an organization was highly beneficial to the masters themselves,
securing the better co-ordination of related processes and hence more
efficient production. In France the chapel was legally recognized in
1777, only a short time before the break-up of the old order. The chapel
had certain revenues which were derived from assessments and fees which
it laid upon its members and particularly from the sale of books. It was
the custom to give to the chapel a certain number of copies of every
book printed. These revenues appear to have been intended originally as
provision for certain periodical feasts and festivals such as were
common in all the guilds of the middle ages. Later they were extended to
cover charity and also to provide a sort of war chest out of which the
expense of litigation could be met.

The combination of these chapels or the formation of tacit
understandings between them created a sort of trade union, and the
combination of their funds made possible the raising of the large
amounts of money necessary to employ counsel and carry on the
litigations against the employers. The employers, often backed by the
authorities, strove throughout this period to prevent these
combinations. They understood fully the tactical value of the precept
“divide and rule,” and they did their best to keep the journeymen
divided and at the same time to strengthen the bonds of their own union.
In this, however, they were only partially successful. In spite of
edicts to the contrary, the chapels, though unable to form an open,
strong organization which could meet the Community on equal terms or to
act with the openness and authority of the modern trade union,
nevertheless maintained a very real and often effective organization
through correspondence, conferences, and other methods of securing
mutual agreement and common action.

In addition to the general settlements of industrial conditions which
were sought by legislation, individual disputes in particular shops or
localities were often settled by arbitration. The great difficulty about
these arbitrations, which rendered their results unsatisfactory and was
never obviated during this whole period, arose from the impossibility of
agreeing on a satisfactory board of arbitrators. The masters insisted
that all these arbitrations should be referred either to the courts or
to the syndics. To this the journeymen seriously objected. They felt
that the courts would not really arbitrate but would settle the matter
by an application of the statutes, and they knew by experience that the
statutes were generally construed against the journeymen wherever
possible. They were on the whole very law-abiding people. They had no
disposition to break the statutes, but the questions which they wanted
decided were either as to the application of the statutes or as to
points not covered by them. On the other hand they felt that the syndics
were entirely unqualified to act as arbitrators for the reason that they
were masters and consequently interested parties. The masters were
insistent whenever possible that these cases should go to the syndics,
although as an alternative they were willing that they should go to the

The journeymen desired that arbitration boards should be composed of
masters, workmen, and citizens not connected with the industry. They
maintained that only thus could the interests of all be fairly
represented and an impartial arbitration secured. To this type of board
the masters almost invariably objected, and they generally refused to
submit to its findings. In this regard the journeymen appear to much
better advantage than the masters throughout this period.

The main points of dispute have already been indicated and were on the
whole not different from similar difficulties today.

First and foremost came the question of pay and food, usually together.
Occasionally men were satisfied with their food but not with their pay
or vice versa, but ordinarily the two went together. The man who paid
badly was likely to feed badly. Another burning question was the right
of combination on the part of the journeymen or, as we should say today,
the question of the recognition of the union. Another point was the
matter of discharge or leaving without notice. The grievance arising
from discharge without notice has already been discussed. The masters
complained that the men would leave without notice and so render it
impossible for them to complete their jobs according to contract. This
was one of the evils attendant on the piece system which has already
been described. On the one hand the masters tried to manipulate it by
hiring extra men and the like so as to increase their profits, while on
the other hand workmen facing the danger of a period of unemployment
would leave a job unfinished if they could get employment on another job
which promised several weeks or even months of work.

Another fruitful cause of difference was tickets of leave or cards of
dismissal. When a man left a job he was supposed to be given a card
which identified him, told where he had been employed, what he did
there, how well he did it, and what his conduct had been in the shop. He
was supposed to show this card before obtaining employment. The workmen
complained that these cards were withheld or improperly filled out for
personal or other unworthy reasons. Sometimes masters were very
particular about giving and demanding these cards. At other times they
were very lax in both these regards and the consequence was that the
card system was a source of constant annoyance to all concerned.

The complaint was also made by journeymen that members of the Community
maintained a black-list, and if a journeyman offended a single member of
the Community or fell into disfavor in a single shop he might be placed
on this black-list and find it impossible to obtain employment.

Of course, there were many other questions which arose from time to time
but these were the particular causes of difficulty which we find
constantly recurring, just as the questions of pay, hours, recognition
of the union, and handling of non-union material constantly recur today.

A fairly careful study of the conditions of this period shows that
according to our modern ideas the journeymen generally appear to better
advantage than the masters. There is no question, of course, that there
were unreasonable demands and that individual journeymen or even groups
of journeymen behaved at times in objectionable ways. On the whole,
however, the effort of the journeymen of this period seems to have been
only to obtain fair treatment and a reasonable recognition of their
rights. They especially desired to be treated as men and to confer on
equal terms with their employers instead of being treated as inferior
beings bound to accept without protest what was handed down to them. It
must be remembered that they were far more highly educated than the
workers in any other industry and that they had been officially
recognized many times as being in a class apart from the ordinary
workmen. They appear to have attempted only to secure in the industry
the same recognition which they legally enjoyed socially. While they did
attempt to have a voice in the fixing of wages and hours there is very
little evidence of any attempt to enforce upon the shops the observance
of rules and regulations made by themselves. The masters on the other
hand had those ancient ideas of authority which have already been
mentioned. They were not willing that their employees should rise above
the level of other workers and they were not willing to recognize them
as men entitled to fair consideration, to say nothing of equal rights.
They lived in the days of serfdom and they took their position as
masters quite seriously and quite literally. This opposition in spirit
between the masters who, by their wealth, their education, and their
social position were associated with the upper classes and imbued with
all of their ancient pride, and the men who, themselves educated and
imbued with a spirit of progress and a desire for freedom, were
attempting to rise above the condition of serfdom in which the laborers
of that age were commonly held was the real root of the struggles in the
medieval printing trade. The purely industrial questions involved were
the occasions rather than the causes of strife.

The end of the old regime is marked in France by the date 1789. This
date marks the beginning of the French Revolution when great masses of
medieval statutes were swept from the statute books, including all those
which regulated the trade of printing. The Community, censorship,
licenses to print, and all the edicts regulating conditions in the
industry went by the board together. The French Revolution, however, was
only an incident of a change which was coming over the thinking of the
whole world. A new condition had been growing up under the old forms and
the time had come when the old forms had to break to make way for the
new life. They broke in the most dramatic and tragic fashion in France
and therefore we think and speak of this event as the French Revolution,
but the change took place elsewhere in as real though a less striking

One of the features of this change was the birth of the newspaper and an
enormous production of pamphlets and other minor literature. There had
been newspapers and periodicals for a long time before, but the ferment
of men’s minds which began in the middle of the eighteenth century
naturally caused a great production of printed matter and a demand that
it should be produced very quickly. Much of this printed matter was of a
sort forbidden by the old laws and regulations. The greater part of it,
being produced under conditions of haste inconsistent with good
workmanship and under a demand for cheapness also inconsistent with good
workmanship, was of a very poor quality. The industry was disordered by
a great increase in the number of shops, particularly shops of a poorer
character. At first the workmen profited greatly, but as is always the
case conditions gradually settled back to a normal state.

The general history of printing may be left at this point. From this
time on the conditions with which we are familiar are coming into shape.
The old day with its old conditions has gone. We need to know the
history of these old times in order that we may understand the records
and experiences of the early day. The later conditions we understand
from our own surroundings. The periodical literature which forms so
large a part of the output of the press has fairly come to life by the
end of the eighteenth century. Commercial printing, which is now
entering upon so positive a career of usefulness and importance, is
about to begin. The invention of the Stanhope press about 1800 is the
first of that long series of inventions which have made possible the
printing establishments of today and their wonderful product. These
things are elsewhere treated. Here we say good-bye to our elder brothers
of the home-made type, the ink balls, and the hand press.

                        _Supplementary Reading_

The material bearing on the economic history of printing is very
scattered. So far as the present writer is aware there is no book on the
subject in English. The nearest approach to such a treatment will
perhaps be found in the second volume of Mr. George Haven Putnam’s
excellent book _Books and Their Makers in the Middle Ages_. Some
information may be obtained from Mr. DeVinne’s _Invention of Printing_;
_Notable Printers of Italy During the Fifteenth Century_; and
_Christopher Plantin and the Plantin-Moretus Museum at Antwerp_. The
“Plantin” is a publication of the Grolier Club, but may be found in
substance in _The Century_ for June, 1888. Some very excellent
historical articles have been published in recent years in _The Inland
Printer_ by Mr. Henry L. Bullen and Mr. John Rittenour. The student will
do well to examine the files of this and other leading trade journals
for some years back and to consult the local librarian for such material
as may be found in libraries.


  The following questions, based on the contents of this pamphlet, are
  intended to serve (1) as a guide to the study of the text, (2) as an
  aid to the student in putting the information contained into definite
  statements without actually memorizing the text, (3) as a means of
  securing from the student a reproduction of the information in his own

  A careful following of the questions by the reader will insure full
  acquaintance with every part of the text, avoiding the accidental
  omission of what might be of value. These primers are so condensed
  that nothing should be omitted.

  In teaching from these books it is very important that these questions
  and such others as may occur to the teacher should be made the basis
  of frequent written work and of final examinations.

  The importance of written work cannot be overstated. It not only
  assures knowledge of material but the power to express that knowledge
  correctly and in good form.

  If this written work can be submitted to the teacher in printed form
  it will be doubly useful.


   1. How were industries carried on in the days of Gutenberg?

   2. What was the general relation between an apprentice and a master?

   3. What was a guild, and what did it do?

   4. Did printing fit into this scheme, and why?

   5. How was printing regulated, and why?

   6. What was the effect of the invention of printing on the manuscript

   7. What did the copyists do?

   8. What did the illuminators do?

   9. What was the attitude of the authorities?

  10. What king is especially noted as a patron of printing, and what
        were some of the things he did?

  11. How did he deal with labor troubles in the printing industry?

  12. What important edict was issued by King Henry III of France, and
        on what grounds?

  13. How did the early printers deal with typographical errors?

  14. How did a French king endeavor to deal with this difficulty, and
        with what result?

  15. What important event took place in 1618?

  16. Give the general points in the regulations of 1686.

  17. What additional regulations were made by Louis XVI?

  18. What happened in 1789, and what was the result?

  19. What are some of the differences between the product of a print
        shop and that of the ordinary factory?

  20. What were some of the problems arising out of this difference?

  21. What was the 15th century substitute for copyright and patents?
        Describe it.

  22. What did trades do to protect themselves if they could not get the
        form of protection just described?

  23. Why did the printer especially need some kind of protection?

  24. Discuss briefly under four heads the system of protection in use
        in Venice.

  25. What were the practical defects of this system?

  26. What kind of books were printed in Germany for the first fifty

  27. What evil practice did Fust begin, and why did he think it was

  28. Was there a profession of authorship, and why?

  29. How did Germany undertake to protect printers?

  30. Give a brief sketch of the political organization of Germany in
        the 15th century.

  31. What effect did this have on the protection of printers?

  32. What did the printers do about it?

  33. What did printers’ privileges cover in Germany?

  34. How did France deal with the question of printers’ privileges, and
        what were some of the peculiarities of French law?

  35. What moral and political danger was perceived shortly after the
        invention of printing?

  36. How was it dealt with by church and state?

  37. What action was taken by Pope Innocent VIII?

  38. What was the result in Venice?

  39. What had the Inquisition to do with printing?

  40. What is the Index Expurgatorius? Why was it drawn up?

  41. What were the general lines of legislation in Venice regarding

  42. What was done in 1549, and why?

  43. What was the purpose of the guild of printers and booksellers?

  44. What were the requirements in 1671 for the publishing of a book in

  45. How did censorship work in Germany, and why?

  46. What was the result of Pope Innocent’s action in France?

  47. By whom was censorship exercised in France?

  48. What was the result of this system, and how was it improved?

  49. Give some features of the press laws of France, and state the

  50. What was the effect of this legislation, and how were the worst
        effects avoided?

  51. What was the end of it all?

  52. How did authorship come to be recognized as a profession?

  53. How did the idea arise that the author had the right to control
        his work?

  54. What was the early German idea of copyright as illustrated by the
        experiences of Luther?

  55. What two ideas gradually came into prominence at this time with
        regard to literary property?

  56. When and how did copyright come into general existence?

  57. When was international copyright recognized?

  58. What is the record of the United States with regard to
        international copyright?

  59. What is the outstanding factor in the industrial life of the
        Middle Ages?

  60. Describe it briefly.

  61. What conditions made it possible?

  62. State and discuss briefly the five general principles which
        governed it.

  63. What was its relation to the state and to religion?

  64. What was the best period of this organization?

  65. When did it decline?

  66. Give three reasons for this decline.

  67. Why was the printing industry an important factor in this decline?

  68. How were wages and prices fixed in the early Middle Ages, and why?

  69. What happened after the discovery of America?

  70. What was the effect on prices and what the effect on wages?

  71. What was the result on the social and industrial organization?

  72. How did printing relate itself to the industrial system of the
        sixteenth century?

  73. What was the result of this relation?

  74. What difficulties arose, and how were they met?

  75. What was the effect of the legislation of 1618?

  76. Who composed the Community of Printers?

  77. Who were the syndics? How were they elected, and for what purpose?

  78. What advantages were gained by the new organization?

  79. What was the relation between printers and booksellers, and why?

  80. What did the old-time printer have to do?

  81. What was the early paper like?

  82. Describe the types in use at this period.

  83. Describe the presses in use at this period.

  84. Describe the ink of this period, and tell how it was spread.

  85. How were compositors paid?

  86. What did the old-time pressman have to do?

  87. Describe the old method of two-color printing.

  88. How were the printed sheets treated when they came from the press?

  89. How were pressmen paid?

  90. What was the custom with regard to proofreading?

  91. Describe the system of cost finding and estimating of this period.

  92. What four different classes of workmen are enumerated?

  93. What was an apprentice?

  94. What were the qualifications necessary to apprenticeship?

  95. What were the conditions of an apprenticeship agreement?

  96. How were these agreements abused by both sides?

  97. Describe the work of an apprentice.

  98. How many apprentices were allowed?

  99. What can you say about the enforcement of these conditions?

 100. Who were the laborers, and how did they affect the industry?

 101. How did an apprentice come to be a journeyman?

 102. How did the journeyman become a master?

 103. Did journeymen commonly become masters, and why?

 104. What were the hours of labor at this period?

 105. How did the journeymen live?

 106. What sort of men were they?

 107. What two compensations did they have for the hard conditions of
        the industry?

 108. What influences tended to lower wages?

 109. How were journeymen divided?

 110. What were the conditions of employment of each?

 111. What were the difficulties of the second class?

 112. How were journeymen graded?

 113. What division of labor existed in the composing room, and what in
        the press room?

 114. Describe the foreman of this period.

 115. What happened to the old or disabled workmen?

 116. What was the place of the master?

 117. Was the general condition of the industry good or bad, and why?

 118. What were the relations between the masters and journeymen before

 119. What were these relations after 1618?

 120. What was a chapel?

 121. What difficulties did the organization of journeymen have to meet?

 122. Describe briefly the growth of organization among the journeymen.

 123. How did masters desire to settle their disputes with the
        journeymen, and why?

 124. How did the journeymen desire to settle them, and why?

 125. What were the principle causes of dispute?

 126. According to modern ideas, which party of these disputes generally
        appears to the better advantage, and why?

 127. What was the French Revolution?

 128. How did the French Revolution contribute to the coming in of
        modern conditions in the printing industry?


The following list of publications, comprising the TYPOGRAPHIC TECHNICAL
SERIES FOR APPRENTICES, has been prepared under the supervision of the
Committee on Education of the United Typothetae of America for use in
trade classes, in courses of printing instruction, and by individuals.

Each publication has been compiled by a competent author or group of
authors, and carefully edited, the purpose being to provide the printers
of the United States—employers, journeymen, and apprentices—with a
comprehensive series of handy and inexpensive compendiums of reliable,
up-to-date information upon the various branches and specialties of the
printing craft, all arranged in orderly fashion for progressive study.

The publications of the series are of uniform size, 5 × 8 inches. Their
general make-up, in typography, illustrations, etc., has been, as far as
practicable, kept in harmony throughout. A brief synopsis of the
particular contents and other chief features of each volume will be
found under each title in the following list.

Each topic is treated in a concise manner, the aim being to embody in
each publication as completely as possible all the rudimentary
information and essential facts necessary to an understanding of the
subject. Care has been taken to make all statements accurate and clear,
with the purpose of bringing essential information within the
understanding of beginners in the different fields of study. Wherever
practicable, simple and well-defined drawings and illustrations have
been used to assist in giving additional clearness to the text.

In order that the pamphlets may be of the greatest possible help for use
in trade-school classes and for self-instruction, each title is
accompanied by a list of Review Questions covering essential items of
the subject matter. A short Glossary of technical terms belonging to the
subject or department treated is also added to many of the books.

These are the Official Text-books of the United Typothetae of America.

Address all orders and inquiries to COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION, UNITED


      PART I—_Types, Tools, Machines, and Materials_

   1. =Type: a Primer of Information=, By A. A. Stewart

      Relating to the mechanical features of printing types; their
      sizes, font schemes, etc., with a brief description of their
      manufacture. 44 pp.; illustrated; 74 review questions; glossary.

   2. =Compositors’ Tools and Materials=, By A. A. Stewart

      A primer of information about composing sticks, galleys, leads,
      brass rules, cutting and mitering machines, etc. 47 pp.;
      illustrated; 50 review questions; glossary.

   3. =Type Cases, Composing Room Furniture=, By A. A. Stewart

      A primer of information about type cases, work stands, cabinets,
      case racks, galley racks, standing galleys, etc. 43 pp.;
      illustrated; 33 review questions; glossary.

   4. =Imposing Tables and Lock-up Appliances=, By A. A. Stewart

      Describing the tools and materials used in locking up forms for
      the press, including some modern utilities for special purposes.
      59 pp.; illustrated; 70 review questions; glossary.

   5. =Proof Presses=, By A. A. Stewart

      A primer of information about the customary methods and machines
      for taking printers’ proofs. 40 pp.; illustrated; 41 review
      questions; glossary.

   6. =Platen Printing Presses=, By Daniel Baker

      A primer of information regarding the history and mechanical
      construction of platen printing presses, from the original hand
      press to the modern job press, to which is added a chapter on
      automatic presses of small size. 51 pp.; illustrated; 49 review
      questions; glossary.

   7. =Cylinder Printing Presses=, By Herbert L. Baker

      Being a study of the mechanism and operation of the principal
      types of cylinder printing machines. 64 pp.; illustrated; 47
      review questions; glossary.

   8. =Mechanical Feeders and Folders=, By William E. Spurrier

      The history and operation of modern feeding and folding machines;
      with hints on their care and adjustments. Illustrated; review
      questions; glossary.

   9. =Power for Machinery in Printing Houses=, By Carl F. Scott

      A treatise on the methods of applying power to printing presses
      and allied machinery with particular reference to electric drive.
      53 pp.; illustrated; 69 review questions; glossary.

  10. =Paper Cutting Machines=, By Niel Gray, Jr.

      A primer of information about paper and card trimmers, hand-lever
      cutters, power cutters, and other automatic machines for cutting
      paper. 70 pp.; illustrated; 115 review questions; glossary.

  11. =Printers’ Rollers=, By A. A. Stewart

      A primer of information about the composition, manufacture, and
      care of inking rollers. 46 pp.; illustrated; 61 review questions;

  12. =Printing Inks=, By Philip Ruxton

      Their composition, properties and manufacture (reprinted by
      permission from Circular No. 53, United States Bureau of
      Standards); together with some helpful suggestions about the
      everyday use of printing inks by Philip Ruxton. 80 pp.; 100 review
      questions; glossary.

  13. =How Paper is Made=, By William Bond Wheelwright

      A primer of information about the materials and processes of
      manufacturing paper for printing and writing. 68 pp.; illustrated;
      62 review questions; glossary.

  14. =Relief Engravings=, By Joseph P. Donovan

      Brief history and non-technical description of modern methods of
      engraving; woodcut, zinc plate, halftone; kind of copy for
      reproduction; things to remember when ordering engravings.
      Illustrated; review questions; glossary.

  15. =Electrotyping and Stereotyping=, By Harris B. Hatch and A. A.

      A primer of information about the processes of electrotyping and
      stereotyping. 94 pp.; illustrated; 129 review questions;

      PART II—_Hand and Machine Composition_

  16. =Typesetting=, By A. A. Stewart

      A handbook for beginners, giving information about justifying,
      spacing, correcting, and other matters relating to typesetting.
      Illustrated; review questions; glossary.

  17. =Printers’ Proofs=, By A. A. Stewart

      The methods by which they are made, marked, and corrected, with
      observations on proofreading. Illustrated; review questions;

  18. =First Steps in Job Composition=, By Camille DeVéze

      Suggestions for the apprentice compositor in setting his first
      jobs, especially about the important little things which go to
      make good display in typography. 63 pp.; examples; 55 review
      questions; glossary.

  19. =General Job Composition=

      How the job compositor handles business stationery, programs and
      miscellaneous work. Illustrated; review questions; glossary.

  20. =Book Composition=, By J. W. Bothwell

      Chapters from DeVinne’s “Modern Methods of Book Composition,”
      revised and arranged for this series of text-books by J. W.
      Bothwell of The DeVinne Press, New York. Part I: Composition of
      pages. Part II: Imposition of pages. 229 pp.; illustrated; 525
      review questions; glossary.

  21. =Tabular Composition=, By Robert Seaver

      A study of the elementary forms of table composition, with
      examples of more difficult composition. 36 pp.; examples; 45
      review questions.

  22. =Applied Arithmetic=, By E. E. Sheldon

      Elementary arithmetic applied to problems of the printing trade,
      calculation of materials, paper weights and sizes, with standard
      tables and rules for computation, each subject amplified with
      examples and exercises. 159 pp.

  23. =Typecasting and Composing Machines=, A. W. Finlay, Editor

      Section I—The Linotype, By L. A. Hornstein

      Section II—The Monotype, By Joseph Hays

      Section III—The Intertype, By Henry W. Cozzens

      Section IV—Other Typecasting and Typesetting Machines, By Frank H.

      A brief history of typesetting machines, with descriptions of
      their mechanical principles and operations. Illustrated; review
      questions; glossary.

      PART III—_Imposition and Stonework_

  24. =Locking Forms for the Job Press=, By Frank S. Henry

      Things the apprentice should know about locking up small forms,
      and about general work on the stone. Illustrated; review
      questions; glossary.

  25. =Preparing Forms for the Cylinder Press=, By Frank S. Henry

      Pamphlet and catalog imposition; margins; fold marks, etc. Methods
      of handling type forms and electrotype forms. Illustrated; review
      questions; glossary.

      PART IV—_Presswork_

  26. =Making Ready on Platen Presses=, By T. G. McGrew

      The essential parts of a press and their functions; distinctive
      features of commonly used machines. Preparing the tympan,
      regulating the impression, underlaying and overlaying, setting
      gauges, and other details explained. Illustrated; review
      questions; glossary.

  27. =Cylinder Presswork=, By T. G. McGrew

      Preparing the press; adjustment of bed and cylinder, form rollers,
      ink fountain, grippers and delivery systems. Underlaying and
      overlaying; modern overlay methods. Illustrated; review questions;

  28. =Pressroom Hints and Helps=, By Charles L. Dunton

      Describing some practical methods of pressroom work, with
      directions and useful information relating to a variety of
      printing-press problems. 87 pp.; 176 review questions.

  29. =Reproductive Processes of the Graphic Arts=, By A. W. Elson

      A primer of information about the distinctive features of the
      relief, the intaglio, and the pianographic processes of printing.
      84 pp.; illustrated; 100 review questions; glossary.

      PART V—_Pamphlet and Book Binding_

  30. =Pamphlet Binding=, By Bancroft L. Goodwin

      A primer of information about the various operations employed in
      binding pamphlets and other work in the bindery. Illustrated;
      review questions; glossary.

  31. =Book Binding=, By John J. Pleger

      Practical information about the usual operations in binding books;
      folding; gathering, collating, sewing, forwarding, finishing. Case
      making and cased-in books. Hand work and machine work. Job and
      blank-book binding. Illustrated; review questions; glossary.

      PART VI—_Correct Literary Composition_

  32. =Word Study and English Grammar=, By F. W. Hamilton

      A primer of information about words, their relations, and their
      uses. 68 pp.; 84 review questions; glossary.

  33. =Punctuation=, By F. W. Hamilton

      A primer of information about the marks of punctuation and their
      use, both grammatically and typographically. 56 pp.; 59 review
      questions; glossary.

  34. =Capitals=, By F. W. Hamilton

      A primer of information about capitalization, with some practical
      typographic hints as to the use of capitals. 48 pp.; 92 review
      questions; glossary.

  35. =Division of Words=, By F. W. Hamilton

      Rules for the division of words at the ends of lines, with remarks
      on spelling, syllabication and pronunciation. 42 pp.; 70 review

  36. =Compound Words=, By F. W. Hamilton

      A study of the principles of compounding, the components of
      compounds, and the use of the hyphen. 34 pp.; 62 review questions.

  37. =Abbreviations and Signs=, By F. W. Hamilton

      A primer of information about abbreviations and signs, with
      classified lists of those in most common use. 58 pp.; 32 review

  38. =The Uses of Italic=, By F. W. Hamilton

      A primer of information about the history and uses of italic
      letters. 31 pp.; 37 review questions.

  39. =Proofreading=, By Arnold Levitas

      The technical phases of the proofreader’s work; reading, marking,
      revising, etc.; methods of handling proofs and copy. Illustrated
      by examples. 59 pp.; 69 review questions; glossary.

  40. =Preparation of Printers’ Copy=, By F. W. Hamilton

      Suggestions for authors, editors, and all who are engaged in
      preparing copy for the composing room. 36 pp.; 67 review

  41. =Printers’ Manual of Style=

      A reference compilation of approved rules, usages, and suggestions
      relating to uniformity in punctuation, capitalization,
      abbreviations, numerals, and kindred features of composition.

  42. =The Printer’s Dictionary=, By A. A. Stewart

      A handbook of definitions and miscellaneous information about
      various processes of printing, alphabetically arranged. Technical
      terms explained. Illustrated.

      PART VII—_Design, Color, and Lettering_

  43. =Applied Design for Printers=, By Harry L. Gage

      A handbook of the principles of arrangement, with brief comment on
      the periods of design which have most influenced printing. Treats
      of harmony, balance, proportion, and rhythm; motion; symmetry and
      variety; ornament, esthetic and symbolic. 37 illustrations; 46
      review questions; glossary; bibliography.

  44. =Elements of Typographic Design=, By Harry L. Gage

      Applications of the principles of decorative design. Building
      material of typography paper, types, ink, decorations and
      illustrations. Handling of shapes. Design of complete book,
      treating each part. Design of commercial forms and single units.
      Illustrations; review questions, glossary; bibliography.

  45. =Rudiments of Color in Printing=, By Harry L. Gage

      Use of color: for decoration of black and white, for broad poster
      effect, in combinations of two, three, or more printings with
      process engravings. Scientific nature of color, physical and
      chemical. Terms in which color may be discussed: hue, value,
      intensity. Diagrams in color, scales and combinations. Color
      theory of process engraving. Experiments with color. Illustrations
      in full color, and on various papers. Review questions; glossary;

  46. =Lettering in Typography=, By Harry L. Gage

      Printer’s use of lettering: adaptability and decorative effect.
      Development of historic writing and lettering and its influence on
      type design. Classification of general forms in lettering.
      Application of design to lettering. Drawing for reproduction.
      Fully illustrated; review questions; glossary; bibliography.

  47. =Typographic Design in Advertising=, By Harry L. Gage

      The printer’s function in advertising. Precepts upon which
      advertising is based. Printer’s analysis of his copy. Emphasis,
      legibility, attention, color. Method of studying advertising
      typography. Illustrations; review questions; glossary;

  48. =Making Dummies and Layouts=, By Harry L. Gage

      A layout: the architectural plan. A dummy: the imitation of a
      proposed final effect. Use of dummy in sales work. Use of
      layout. Function of layout man. Binding schemes for dummies.
      Dummy envelopes. Illustrations; review questions; glossary;

      PART VIII—_History of Printing_

  49. =Books Before Typography=, By F. W. Hamilton

      A primer of information about the invention of the alphabet and
      the history of bookmaking up to the invention of movable types. 62
      pp.; illustrated; 64 review questions.

  50. =The Invention of Typography=, By F. W. Hamilton

      A brief sketch of the invention of printing and how it came about.
      64 pp.; 62 review questions.

  51. =History of Printing=—Part I, By F. W. Hamilton

      A primer of information about the beginnings of printing, the
      development of the book, the development of printers’ materials,
      and the work of the great pioneers. 63 pp.; 55 review questions.

  52. =History of Printing=—Part II, By F. W. Hamilton

      A brief sketch of the economic conditions of the printing industry
      from 1450 to 1789, including government regulations, censorship,
      internal conditions and industrial relations. 94 pp.; 128 review

  53. =Printing in England=, By F. W. Hamilton

      A short history of printing in England from Caxton to the present
      time. 89 pp.; 65 review questions.

  54. =Printing in America=, By F. W. Hamilton

      A brief sketch of the development of the newspaper, and some notes
      on publishers who have especially contributed to printing. 98 pp.;
      84 review questions.

  55. =Type and Presses in America=, By F. W. Hamilton

      A brief historical sketch of the development of type casting and
      press building in the United States. 52 pp.; 61 review questions.

      PART IX—_Cost Finding and Accounting_

  56. =Elements of Cost in Printing=, By Henry P. Porter

      The Standard Cost-Finding Forms and their uses. What they should
      show. How to utilize the information they give. Review questions.

  57. =Use of a Cost System=, By Henry P. Porter

      The Standard Cost-Finding Forms and their uses. What they should
      show. How to utilize the information they give. Review questions.

  58. =The Printer as a Merchant=, By Henry P. Porter

      The selection and purchase of materials and supplies for printing.
      The relation of the cost of raw material and the selling price of
      the finished product. Review questions. Glossary.

  59. =Fundamental Principles of Estimating=, By Henry P. Porter

      The estimator and his work; forms to use; general rules for
      estimating. Review questions. Glossary.

  60. =Estimating and Selling=, By Henry P. Porter

      An insight into the methods used in making estimates, and their
      relation to selling. Review questions. Glossary.

  61. =Accounting for Printers=, By Henry P. Porter

      A brief outline of an accounting system for printers; necessary
      books and accessory records. Review questions. Glossary.

      PART X—_Miscellaneous_

  62. =Health, Sanitation, and Safety=, By Henry P. Porter

      Hygiene in the printing trade; a study of conditions old and new;
      practical suggestions for improvement; protective appliances and
      rules for safety.

  63. =Topical Index=, By F. W. Hamilton

      A book of reference covering the topics treated in the Typographic
      Technical Series, alphabetically arranged.

  64. =Courses of Study=, By F. W. Hamilton

      A guidebook for teachers, with outlines and suggestions for
      classroom and shop work.


This series of Typographic Text-books is the result of the splendid
co-operation of a large number of firms and individuals engaged in the
printing business and its allied industries in the United States of

The Committee on Education of the United Typothetae of America, under
whose auspices the books have been prepared and published, acknowledges
its indebtedness for the generous assistance rendered by the many
authors, printers, and others identified with this work.

While due acknowledgment is made on the title and copyright pages of
those contributing to each book, the Committee nevertheless felt that a
group list of co-operating firms would be of interest.

The following list is not complete, as it includes only those who have
co-operated in the production of a portion of the volumes, constituting
the first printing. As soon as the entire list of books comprising the
Typographic Technical Series has been completed (which the Committee
hopes will be at an early date), the full list will be printed in each

The Committee also desires to acknowledge its indebtedness to the many
subscribers to this Series who have patiently awaited its publication.


                  HENRY P. PORTER, _Chairman_,
                  E. LAWRENCE FELL,
                  A. M. GLOSSBRENNER,
                  J. CLYDE OSWALD,
                  TOBY RUBOVITS.

              FREDERICK W. HAMILTON, _Education Director_.


=For Composition and Electrotypes=

 S. H. BURBANK & CO., Philadelphia, Pa.
 J. S. CUSHING & CO., Norwood, Mass.
 R. R. DONNELLEY & SONS CO., Chicago, Ill.
 GEO. H. ELLIS CO., Boston, Mass.
 EVANS-WINTER-HEBB, Detroit, Mich.
 F. H. GILSON COMPANY, Boston, Mass.
 STEPHEN GREENE & CO., Philadelphia, Pa.
 W. F. HALL PRINTING CO., Chicago, Ill.
 J. B. LIPPINCOTT CO., Philadelphia, Pa.
 MCCALLA & CO. INC., Philadelphia, Pa.
 POOLE BROS., Chicago, Ill.
 EDWARD STERN & CO., Philadelphia, Pa.
 C. D. TRAPHAGEN, Lincoln, Neb.

=For Composition=

 WILLIAM F. FELL CO., Philadelphia, Pa.
 OXFORD-PRINT, Boston, Mass.
 TOBY RUBOVITS, Chicago, Ill.

=For Electrotypes=

 C. J. PETERS & SON CO., Boston, Mass.
 ROYAL ELECTROTYPE CO., Philadelphia, Pa.
 H. C. WHITCOMB & CO., Boston, Mass.

=For Engravings=

 C. B. COTTRELL & SONS CO., Westerly, R. I.
 INLAND PRINTER CO., Chicago, Ill.
 GEO. H. MORRILL CO., Norwood, Mass.
 THE PRINTING ART, Cambridge, Mass.
 B. D. RISING PAPER COMPANY, Housatonic, Mass.

=For Book Paper=

 WEST VIRGINIA PULP & PAPER CO., Mechanicville, N. Y.


                          TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES

 1. Silently corrected typographical errors and variations in spelling.
 2. Archaic, non-standard, and uncertain spellings retained as printed.
 3. Enclosed italics font in _underscores_.

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