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Monday, October 21, 2019

First Colonial-era Press Public Demonstration


I gave a presentation at a weekend Creation conference in Newark, Delaware (USA). It was their third annual event (and my third time participating). My presentation was on the Darwin-Genesis microfilm from 1875. I also took a Bible history exhibit with me, along with a working scale model of a "traveling printing press". Shown above: My new printing press, along with a U.S. Library of Congress facsimile of the title page of Genesis from their copy of the Gutenberg Bible. Printing Press technology changed very little from the time of Gutenberg, to the Colonial America era.

The press is 1/6 scale. It would be more accurately described as one of the presses that printers would take with them on the road as they traveled the countryside. There is not very much information about such activity online, but I have read stories about such activities. Along the way, they would stop in various towns and print Bible tracts, broadsides, etc., promoting Protestantism for the villagers. During the time of the Reformation, many were arrested, and in some cases, put to death. During the time of colonial America, it was an opportunity to take the word of God to areas outside the developing metropolitan colonies. This press could easily fit in the back of any horse-drawn wagon.


Here (above) you can see several recently-pulled copies that came off of the Press. I spent time before my presentation printing the first day of Creation, taken from the U.S. Library of Congress facsimile that I had on display. I had scanned it weeks before, then had it made into a rubber stamp. I made the copies, on the press, utilizing this stamp, rather than the usual hot metal type. For now, and in a pinch, it worked like a charm.


Here is a shot (above) of the room that I had for my exhibit and presentation. This was at Grace Church in Newark, Delaware. The row of pages over by the window included (left to right) a page from the famous "Gun Wad" Bible, printed in Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1776. It has a fascinating history. Also exhibited on this table is a page from the 1600s English translation of Josephus (Noah's Flood); a page from the first printing of Pilgrim's Progress; the title page from "Life of Christ" owned by Elvis Presley at Graceland; and a New Testament English translation of Theodore Beza.


Another exhibit table of extraordinary Bible histories: (from left to right) a page from the Martin Luther German Bible; a handwritten and corrected sermon given by Charles Spurgeon; the Greek "Textus Receptus" of Erasmus / Stephanus; a page from the Matthew - Tyndale Bible; a first edition, first printing of the 1611 King James "He" Bible (were in Ruth it mentions "he" went into the village, instead of "she" ... a typo. This was corrected in the second 1611 printing). It is the title page from Genesis (the most sought-after Bible page in the world for collectors); and next to it on the right is the largest letter-press Bible in the world, printed in 1771, complete with a solid 24-karat goldleaf initial "T" to the book of Acts.


Here's a close-up of one of the printed pages on card stock given to those who attended my presentation (there were multi-presentations given throughout the day). Even though it was pulled from a rubber stamp, it was beautiful ... and a much better impression than ever using the stamp itself. The pressure from the press, as the worm gear applied force to the paper upon the rubber letters gave a beautiful impression. This was the first time the press was used. I hope to be able to do the same thing with the English version of Genesis from the King James Bible. I was surprised to find out how many people thought that the Gutenberg Bible was printed in German (it was printed in Latin ... from Jerome's translation into the Latin Vultage).

And, finally, here I am waiting for my participants to arrive to my presentation. I have just finished printing my hand-outs from the Gutenberg Press.