Early Prints Depicting Eyeglasses

Early Prints Depicting Eyeglasses

Letocha, Charles E. , MD; Dreyfus, John , MA(Cantab)


In Europe, the use of paper and of xylography (printing from woodcuts) began in the last quarter of the 14th century. Such woodcuts were reproduced by inking the surface on which the images were cut and then transferring the inked image onto a sheet of paper. Before the invention of the printing press, the pressure to do this was exerted by hand. Experts have dated single sheets as early as 1418. One of the earliest books to be illustrated with woodcuts was Fables by Ulrich Boner, printed in 1461 by Pfister of Bamberg, Germany.1 Movable metal type was first used by Gutenberg in about 1450, at about the same time he invented the printing press to apply pressure with the machine. Metal type and woodcut illustrations could be printed together in his screw press, and this method was used to produce many incunables (books printed prior to 1501).

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