Wooden printing pres, early 18th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This pres follows a design which was in use by 1500 and persisted until the 1820s. The first British printer, William Caxton, would have used a similar pres, except that the screw which forces the paper on to the type would have run in a wooden rather than a metal nut. The type held in 'forme' on a movable 'plank', is inked with 2 leather 'dabbens'. The paper is held in a frame or 'tympan', its margins protected from ink by a mask held in the 'frisket'. Presure is applied by pulling on the bar.