I hope you can help me with something. I recently found this engraving you can see below. It depicts a printing press (in a sort of instructional way), a composing stick, and a rolling press. However, I can’t find its source or date it.
Web search gave me the closest thing I was able to find in the first edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica (1768–71, vol. 3, plate CXLVII, figure 1), but you can see that while all the elements seem to be the same, finer details differ. Where the two printers look and the minute details of their appearance. Some details of the presses. Finally, the letter labels around the presses and the titles (on my version of the engraving, they are written or printed in cursive.)
There are other variations of that engraving and other engravings that were definitely inspired by the same source.
This appears to be an earlier version of the same motif from A new and complete dictionary of arts and sciences (1763-64 by W. Owen). Interestingly, this version of the engraving has the same placement of the press and composing stick but doesn’t have the rolling press below, which both the version I found and the EB versions have in common. So, both mine and the EB versions were probably based on the version of the engraving from A new and complete dictionary of arts and sciences, and one of them most probably was based on another. But if the EB version was the later one, the window is pretty narrow: 1763-1771.
And here’s another take on the same theme:
So, is the engraving I found a precursor to the engraving printed in the Encyclopedia Britannica, or is it a follow-up work? Has anyone seen these engravings and all of those different variations?
Updated on the 26th of July, 2023, to add info about A new and complete dictionary of arts and sciences. Many thanks to Karel van der Waarde for sharing that info!
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