Early printed books, especially one printed before 1501.

[from Latin incunabula (neuter plural), ‘swaddling clothes, cradle,’ from in- ‘into’ + cunae ‘cradle.’]

Horace, Aldus Manutius, though after 1500

Public Domain, Link

Ruralia commoda.jpg
By MasherradorOwn work, GFDL, Link

Early printing establishment showing compositors and a wooden common press

By MorburreOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Bernardo, Pietro – Esposizione del salmo 68, 1500 – BEIC 2956478.jpg
By Pietro Bernardino – Available in the BEIC digital library and uploaded in partnership with BEIC Foundation., Public Domain, Link

The matrix

Originally type faces were cast in metal from matrices by hand in a two piece mould (Gutenberg’s contribution) and then later by machine. For excellent images see this Website.

two piece mould
two piece mould

Hand composition

punch, matrix, type

Above: A punch, matrix, one mat after the strike, and one finished and ready to go in the mould, and type— the way it comes out of the hand mould before finishing. The process is difficult to describe in words; the mould held in one hand while the molten metal is poured into the mould; at that moment there must be a motion made upward with the hand to force the metal down into the matrix. I am searching (looking through boxes) for a book which has some good images to post for this.

Teh Ludlow and matrix banks
The Ludlow and matrix banks

Here are images of Ludlow mats; two showing the font casting side, in stick; one showing the top side in a box. I’ll make some more pics of the mats in there cases as they are in the banks. The Ludlow is unique in that mats are set by hand in the stick and then cast in the machine which pumps the metal into the mats.

openface mats

ludlow dbl italic