Pieces of the Past as Prologue

ACADEME BLOG

franklin_the_printer Reproduction of a Charles Mills painting by the Detroit Publishing Company. Depicts W:Benjamin Franklin at work on a printing press. It is unlikely Franklin would have ever worn a paper hat (paper being expensive in his day), making that something of an anachronism.

When I first taught at New York City College of Technology fifteen years ago, I immediately noticed a glassed-in display of an old flatbed printing press with a dummy dressed as Ben Franklin next to it. Peering in, I saw that the press was in working condition—still is. In fact, it is used for demonstrations in at least one of our classes. I felt immediately that I could be at home, here. Though I had never worked such a press, I could: The letterpress technology I began learning to use when I was quite young is not far removed from what that of Franklin’s day.

Over the past…

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