Who Operated the Gutenberg Press?

The Guttenberg Bible was comprised of 1,282 pages, each manually inked and pressed by the “beater” and the “puller.” Scholars estimate that each page required approximately 2,600 individual pieces of type.

The press itself was rather innovative. Many components remain in practice, such as pin registration to hold the paper exactly in the right place when printing on both sides of paper.

Pressman known as “beaters” used “ink balls,” leather drums stuffed with wool or horse hair to coat the moveable type with ink. A pressman called a “puller” cranked a wooden handle to lower the platen to place pressure on the paper. Historians believe that 20 employees worked with Guttenberg to create the first 180 bibles.

The Crandall Historical Printing Museum in Provo, Utah offers some insight into Guttenberg’s process through extensive demos and history lessons. The museum features replicas of famous historic shops and presses including a re-creation of the world’s oldest printing house.

Check out the video below to see how it’s done.

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