Printing Museum, Movable Type, ancient craft, typesetting, typography, printmaking, letterpress, Zoe Snyder, John Ryrie, printmaker.
Melbourne Museum of Printing
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Australia's working and teaching museum of typography and printing located at Footscray, Victoria. Specialising in retention of traditional printing, both the equipment and the knowledge.

The Ancient Craft of Typesetting by Hand

Zoe composing the pages of her book
from the Upper Case (partly obscured) and the Lower Case.

The craft of typesetting by hand is what started the information revolution in Asia and Europe in 14th and 15th centuries.

Fundamental to all MMOP programs is an understanding of this process in more or less detail. In the more detailed programs, each participant spends time composing their own text, after learning the typographic measurement system and the methods for correct typesetting..

Movable type was the usual basis for letterpress printing. Assembling words, lines and pages letter by letter was the only method of composing text for printing for hundreds of years.

An alternative to composing, used mainly in Asia, was carving. Every required character would be carved into one plank of wood. This overcame the need to produce a stock of each character, of which there were many thousands.

In the European style, the types were picked, usually from a pair of typecases, and placed into a line-holder (composing stick) of a known length to ensure that each line was exactly the same length and the resulting page could be "locked up" without mishap.

Zoe printed her hand-set pages on the Museum's 1849 Albion hand press.


Printmaking artist John Ryrie was already experienced in the Ancient Craft. He visited MMOP to compose and print the text for his exhibition piece.

The image was printed elsewhere: the text was added on the Museum's cylinder proofing press.

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