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6 - Writing Textual Materiality: Charles Clark, his Books and his Bookplate Poem

Carrie Griffin
Affiliation:
Queen Mary University of London
Mary O'connell
Affiliation:
University College Cork
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Summary

In 1828 the 22 November edition of the Mechanics' Magazine reported on the invention of a new portable printing press. The inventor, Mr Charles Clark of Great Totham in Essex, wrote to describe his machine and the motivation behind its construction. Confessing that after his first ‘peep into a printing office’ he felt surprise at the relative simplicity of the press, he set about producing a smaller version which would be made of cheaper materials. The illustration Clark sent to accompany his letter shows a machine of about 6 ft in length. The platten, measuring fifteen by ten inches, and the table holding the type, were both made from highly polished stone; the rest of the press was made from elm wood. The editor of the magazine includes a note supporting Clark's assertions that the impressions produced by his machine were ‘fully’ equal to the Colombian or Stanhope Press. Clark describes the two chief recommendations of his portable press as the ease of use, even for someone unacquainted with printing, and the affordability: thirty shillings in comparison to £25 for a press of similar size. The letter concludes with Clark's hope that his invention would be of interest to people who would take pleasure in ‘printing little trifles for their own convenience or amusement’ he cites the example of William Cowper who owned a bellows press and was described by his biographer as a ‘printer as well as a writer of poetry’.

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Publisher: Pickering & Chatto
First published in: 2014

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