Every-Day Book
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November 29.

St. Saturninus, Bp. A. D. 257. St. Radbod, Bp. A. D. 918.


Invention of Printing by Steam.

The Times journal of Tuesday, Novem[b]er the 29th, 1814, was the first newspaper printed by steam. To the editor of the Every-Day Book the application of machinery, through this power, to the production of a newspaper seemed so pregnant with advantages to the world, that he purchased The Times of that morning, within an hour of its appearance, "as a curiosity," and here transcribes from it the words wherein it announced and described the mode by which its fitness for publication was on that day effected.

The Times introduces the subject, through its "leading article," thus:—


"Our journal of this day presents to the public the practical result of the greatest improvement connected with printing, since the discovery of the art itself. The reader of this paragraph now holds in his hand, one of the many thousand impressions of The Times newspaper, which were taken off last night by a mechanical apparatus. A system of machinery almost organic has been devised and arranged, which, while it relieves the human frame of its most laborious efforts in printing, far exceeds all human powers in rapidity and despatch. That the magnitude of the invention may be justly appreciated by its effects, we shall inform the public, that after the letters are placed by the compositors, and enclosed in what is called the form, little more remains for man to do, than to attend upon, and watch this unconscious agent in its operations. The machine is then merely supplied with paper: itself places the form, inks it, adjusts the paper to the form newly inked, stamps the sheet, and gives it forth to the hands of the attendant, at the same time withdrawing the form for a fresh coat of ink, which itself again distributes, to meet the ensuing sheet now advancing for impression; and the whole of these complicated acts is performed with such a velocity and simultaneousness of movement, that no less than eleven hundred sheets are impressed in one hour.

"That the completion of an invention of this kind, not the effect of chance, but the result of mechanical combinations methodically arranged in the mind of the artist, would be attended with many obstructions and much delay, may be readily admitted. Our share in this event has, indeed, only been the application of the discovery, under an agreement with the Patentees, to our own particular business; yet few can conceive,—even with this limited interest,—the various disappointments and deep anxiety to which we have for a long course of time been subjected.

"Of the person who made this discovery we have but little to add. Sir CHRISTOPHER WREN'S noblest monument is to be found in the building which he erected; so is the best tribute of praise, which we are capable of offering to the inventor of the Printing Machine, comprised in the preceding description, which we have feebly sketched, of the powers and utility of his invention. It must suffice to say farther, that he is a Saxon by birth; that his name is KŒNIG; and that the invention has been executed under the direction of his friend and countryman BAUER."

On the 3d of December, 1824, The Times commences a series of remarks, entitled, "Invention of Printing by Steam," by observing thus. "Ten years elapsed on the 29th of last month, since this journal appeared for the first time printed by a mechanical apparatus; and it has continued to be printed by the same method to the present day." It speaks of consequent advantages to the public, from earlier publication, and better presswork, and says, "This journal is undoubtedly the first work ever printed by a mechanical apparatus: we attempted on its introduction to do justice to the claims of the inventor Mr. Kœnig, who some years afterwards returned to his native country, Germany, not benefited, we fear, up to the full extent of his merits, by his wonderful invention and his exertions in England." In refuting some pretensions which infringed on Mr. Kœnig's claim to consideration as the author of the invention, The Times states, that "before Mr. Kœnig left this country, he accomplished the last great improvement, —namely, the printing of the sheet on both sides. In consequence of successive improvements, suggested and planned by Mr. Kœnig the inventor, our machines now print 2,000 with more ease than 1,100 in their original state." Hence, as in 1814, 1,100 is represented to have been the number then thrown off within the hour, it follows that the number now printed every hour is 2,000. The Times adds, "we cannot close this account without giving our testimony not only to the enlightened mind and ardent spirit of Mr. Kœnig, but also to his strict honour and pure integrity. Our intercourse with him was constant, during the very critical and trying period when he was bringing his invention into practice at our office; so that we had no slight knowledge of his manners and character: and the consequence has been, sincere friendship and high regard for him ever since."


Sphenogyne. Sphenogyne piliflora.
Dedicated to St. Saturninus.