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Institution, and Origin of the Art of Printing, and General Rules for Compositors [by Alonso Victor de Paredes, Madrid, ca. 1680]
Edited and Translated by Pablo Alvarez
This volume is the first complete English translation of Alonso Víctor de Paredes’ Institucion, y origen del arte de la imprenta, y reglas generales para los componedores [Institution, and Origin of the Art of Printing, and General Rules for Compositors].
This 96-page printing manual – set and printed by Paredes himself – was issued in Madrid around 1680. It opens with an introductory digression on the origin of writing and printing, followed by ten technical chapters on each of the tasks that are necessary to print a book, including a detailed description of the different kinds of type sizes and their use, the rules of orthography and punctuation, the setting of numeric systems, imposition, casting off, the printing of university dissertations, and the correction of proofs. Some of the chapters are of unique relevance for the understanding of early printing in Europe. Chapter 8, for example, is the first recorded, comprehensive account of the practice of printing by forms/formes.
Alvarez’ transcription, translation, and notes greatly facilitate access to this important historical work, which is in fact the earliest known printing manual published in Europe – Joseph Moxon’s Mechanick Exercises was published in 1683 – and an extraordinary rarity: there are only two extant copies in the world. The book also features a foreword by Don W. Cruickshank and full reproductions of the copies held in rare-book collections at the Providence Public Library and at the University of Valencia, Spain.