Thursday, January 6, 2011

Gutenberg — The Inventor of Printing

How long does it take to print a book? For Johanne Gutenberg it took more than 30 years! What was the hold up? Well, since it had never been done before he had a lot of problems to work out. Many were related to the invention itself: finding the right metal formula for the type, making an ink that wasn’t too runny or too sticky, figuring out how to space the letters and get them consistently raised off the slug and the designing and building of the press itself. His other problems involved money. He dealt with lawsuits, partnerships gone awry, denied inheritances and fund raising opportunities lost (something to do with selling souvenirs to pilgrims traveling to see remnants of the clothes of Christ).

Fine Print takes you on a fascinating look at the man who was determined to invent mass–produced printing and persevered. It’s a wonderful lesson in persistence and a very interesting glimpse into 15th Century Germany.

Ages 9-12

Activity: Cut a letter in a potato and then print it:

Okay, this involves a knife, so some parental involvement is probably necessary.  Cut a medium sized red potato in half, then cut away anything that you don’t want to print. Remember, you have to create your letter backwards on your stamp.

Now put some ink or paint on your stamp and press. Viola!


  1. This looks like a great book, especially now with printing seemingly on it ways out (hopefully not)
    I like the activity you include, just the kind of thing kids like to do.

  2. Alex, I'm so pleased to have you stop by and comment. I dropped by your blog and liked what I saw and am now officially a follower. (Her blog is all about WWII books for children for those reading this — Check it out).

  3. I wish the cover on this was more attractive, since this is always a person I encourage students to research when they have biography projects.

  4. I agree with you! The cover does not do this book justice.