Friday, June 26, 2009

Who needs computers when you've got 17th-c printing presses?

Everyone I talked to who had been to Antwerp--not the longest list, but a list nonetheless--had one comment in common: The Plantin-Moretus Museum (a name I can know actually pronounce...with a Dutch accent or a French one). Ah, how right they were. Of course, it didn't hurt that the NEH crew had already carefully orchestrated a VIP tour of the place and its amazing holdings, including several original printing presses from the 17th century. In true "field trip" style we even got to ink & press a piece of paper using one of the original machines. A few personal favorites included the small Mercator atlases during our VIP book exhibit and holding the small piece of type mere seconds after it came out of molten metal. Sound dangerous? risky? shocking, perhaps? That's because it is. Bookishness has its risks, you know. (I'm feeling the need to quote some super hero line--or to make some cliched point about knowledge and power--but I'll resist).

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