The Black Art

We are in the year 1400: Johannes Gutenberg is born and thus also the inventor of black art. Black as night is the printing ink used for the first letterpresses in the 15th century.

Black art" refers to the craft or artistic activity of printing ink on paper to create replicas. Today, the activities of printers, media designers, polygraphs or prepress technicians in particular fall under the heading of black art. So, by and large, everything that happens in our pressroom. 

Automation in the 15th century
In the middle of the 15th century, Gutenberg brought the invention of printing with movable type from China to Europe and improved it. Until then, water-based printing ink had been used; he developed oil-based ink that could be used to coat the movable metal type much more efficiently.

How long did it take to print a book before Gutenberg's time?
Until Gutenberg's invention, the reproduction of texts took a long time. Texts were copied by specially trained monks in writing rooms. Copying a large work such as the Bible thus took up to three years. The printing technique commonly used at the time was woodblock printing, which involved laboriously cutting the text and image into a block of wood, mirror-inverted. Gutenberg then had the ingenious idea of breaking down the text into its basic components. Lowercase and uppercase letters, which could then be reassembled again and again to form words and lines. And - this was particularly important: they could be used several times!

Why is it called the "black art" at all?
Gutenberg used a converted wine press as a printing press; he made the black printing ink from lampblack and varnish (solvent). This is how letterpress printing got the name "black art.

In 1999, Gutenberg was declared "Man of the Millennium" by American historians for his invention. 


To this day, the Disciples of the Black Art exist
To become a Disciple of the Black Art, one is traditionally cauterized after completing an apprenticeship and admitted to the union of the "Sons of Gutenberg". 

What is Gautschen we explain in the blog post "The custom of Gautschen".

PS: In a similar context exists the term "white art", which refers to the activities of papermaking.



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