Did You Know...Fascinating Printing Facts
Perhaps not questions that will come up the next time you play "Trivial Pursuit," but here are some interesting and unusual printing-related historical facts that demonstrate just how an important and transformative role printing has played throughout the ages.
Did you know... Johannes Gutenberg died a poor man? He was sued by his wealthy business partners in 1455 and lost the lawsuit, which resulted in the iconic printer being forced to give up his printing business and, ultimately, into financial ruin, before his death in 1468.
Did you know... Gutenberg printed more than 150 copies of the Bible, but the whereabouts of only 49 are known today?
Did you know... Ben was not the first printer in the Franklin family? When Ben was only a teenager, his older brother was publishing the New England Courant. However, by age 22, Franklin was in business for himself, printing the Pennsylvania Gazette.
His printing company was also contracted to print all paper currency for Pennsylvania and Delaware, as well as documents from the Pennsylvania Assembly, where Franklin was an elected clerk. Franklin was eventually appointed Postmaster of Philadelphia, which resulted in greatly increasing the circulation of his newspaper.
Did you know... Even though "America's printer" Ben Franklin was a successful businessman and renowned inventor, he was in substantial debt most of his life? Although not widely known, Franklin was often reckless in his business ventures, while spending large sums of money to support his statesmen reputation and lifestyle, and fund his global travel and adventures.
Did you know... The world's smallest printed book (according to the "Guinness World Book of Records") is a 22-page Japanese picture book, containing mostly flowers, that measures 0.0291x0.0295˝? A magnifying glass is necessary to see the images.
Did you know... The largest catalog printed was more than 2.5˝ thick? In January 2005, Aviall Services released its "Product and Catalog Book," which contains 2,656 pages and weighs 7.4 lbs.
Did you know... King Henry VIII spearheaded the printing movement in England? The infamous monarch granted a royal charter to fund the development of Cambridge University Press in 1534. As the world's oldest printing operation, Cambridge has been operating nearly non-stop since 1584, when the first "CU Press" title rolled off its presses. Today, the printer publishes more than 2,000 titles a year that are distributed to 200-plus countries.
Did you know... The first American paper notes were printed in denominations of cents, not dollars? Issued in 1862 to help finance the Civil War, the first American currency was printed in 1-cent, 5-cents, 25-cents and 50-cents denominations.
Did you know... The oldest surviving, printed book is the Buddhist "Diamond-Sutra," dated 868 AD?
Did you know... The invention of the printing press was instrumental in the "Scientific Revolution?" As printing presses began popping up in towns across Europe, more secular books were printed, especially those relating to science. Scientists working on the same/similar issues could now record, print and, ultimately, share it with other scientists in faraway places. That accurate (not potentially miscopied) information was the cornerstone of communicating and advancing scientific knowledge.
Did you know... Einstein praised the printing press, noting it was an important agent in the transformation of learning and the rise of modern scientific thought? Einstein believed the printing press transformed the educational process and the student/teacher relationship, as well as the research process. Technical textbooks became silent teachers, easily available to students. He noted in his writings that updated editions, especially mathematical ones, provided students with knowledge that would eventually surpass not only their instructors, but the wisdom of ancients.
Did you know... The Renaissance most likely would not have taken place without the help of the printing press? This revered invention made it possible to print ideas about a new philosophy known as Humanism (the resurgence of ancient Greek and Roman classic manuscripts/teachings)—in the form of papers, pamphlets and books—and disseminate them to Renaissance men everywhere.
Did you know... Politicians first started using printed propaganda to get citizens' interest and support during the Renaissance? Beforehand, political figures relied on word-of-mouth to disseminate info about them/their campaign. But with the emergence of printing presses, current political discussion and the development of new ideas were easily shared.
Did you know... Mexico had a working printing press more than 100 years before America? Mexico began printing operations in 1534, while the first printing press in America wasn't operational until 1639, when the Glover family arrived from England and opened a print shop in Cambridge, MA.
Did you know... Typefaces/fonts were originally created by hand and often named after the printer who created them? A great example is French printer Claude Garamonde; his font is still in use today.
Did you know... It took almost two years to print Shakespeare's compilation of 36 plays into one book, titled "The First Folio?" At almost 400 pages, the process was so time-consuming, proofreading and corrections were done during production.
Did you know... Historians cite an (estimated) 12 million-plus propaganda pamphlets for helping turn the tide of WWII against the Germans? The leaflets were printed and dropped over Germany with the intention of lifting the morale of American and Allied soldiers, while deflating that of the Nazis.
Did you know... The initial print run of J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" broke a printing industry record? As a pop-culture phenomenon, all of the books in the "Harry Potter" series had initial print runs in the millions. But, "Deathly Hallows" greatly outnumbered the others, with 12 million copies in its first run, making it the largest initial print run ever recorded.
Did you know... The world's smallest printing machine measures 2x2x11˝? The PrintStik, which weighs just 1.5 lbs., is produced by American manufacturer Planon.
Did you know... The Incredible Hulk's green skin color was initially due to a mistake in the printing process? In the debut of Stan Lee's comic book series "The Incredible Hulk," Lee gave the Hulk a gray skin color to purposely disassociate the monster with any particular ethnic group. However, there were problems with the gray coloring, which resulted in a different-hued Hulk in each copy. Some of copies were green and, when Lee saw them, he decided that green suited the Hulk better than gray.
Did you know... Portable printing presses were used on the battlefields during the Civil War? These small, mobile presses allowed soldiers to set up print shops on the battlefield.
Did you know... You may be committing a crime if you sell or lend someone a children's book that was printed before 1985? In 2008, Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, and one of the laws enacted prohibited the sale or lending of children's books printed prior to 1985—unless the ink is tested for lead. Unfortunately, tests that analyze older books for traces of lead are expensive, forcing libraries and used-book retailers to dispose of old children's books rather than have them tested.
Did you know... Long-time writer/artist for Marvel Comics, Mark Gruenwald's last wish was to be cremated and have his ashes mixed with the ink in the printing of a comic book?
His request was honored by the Marvel staff in August 1996, when Gruenwald (who worked on titles like "The Avengers," "Captain America" and "Thor") passed away from a heart attack at age 42. Some of the artist's ashes were stirred into the ink of an issue of "Squadron Supreme," one of the titles that he helped produce before his death.
Did you know... Marvel Comics also published a comic book based on the rock group KISS, wherein a certain band member's blood was added to the ink? In 2006, a similar marketing gimmick took place when blood from the lead actor of the horror flick "Saw III" was used to print the movie posters.
Did you know... Boy Scouts can earn badges for printing? Graphic Arts and Pulp & Paper merit badges are awarded to Boy Scouts who complete a day-long workshop, where the youths get hands-on training at 12 learning/activity stations.
Did you know... The Black Death significantly contributed to the evolution of the printing process? The dead left a surplus of clothes, which were inherited by the living, who could now dispose of their old, worn garments. The discarded clothes were used to make "rag paper," which became an inexpensive alternative to parchment (sheepskin) and vellum (calfskin)—the only materials used in bookmaking at the time.
Rag paper was a real bargain compared to the hundreds of calfskins and sheepskins it took to make one copy of the Bible—which was the staple text being produced.
Did you know... The deaths of hundreds of monks in Western European monasteries marked a milestone, leading to the invention of the printing press? After many of the monks (who copied Bibles) had succumbed to the Black Death, there was a massive void of bookmakers, which drastically increased the cost of copying Bibles. At the same time, the cost of rag paper was continually decreasing. Ultimately, the mass production of cheap paper, combined with an absence of bookmakers, became incentives to create a better printing process. PI