At the beginning of the 19th century, the iron hand press emerged as the first major improvement to the wooden hand press in almost 350 years. The all metal Stanhope press was introduced in 1803 and utilized a series of compound levers to produce greater downward pressure. With its full-sized platen, printers could now produce a complete folio in a single pull, increasing efficiency and daily output. In 1811, German inventor Friedrich Koenig revolutionized printing when he introduced a steam driven, flat-bed cylinder press that could print at ten times the speed of the Stanhope. With Koenig's invention, printers could now produce over 1,000 sheets per hour. By 1830, mechanical presses began to proliferate around the world, with the first steam driven rotary press appearing in Scotland in 1851. The rotary press improved printing efficiency still further, allowing for outputs at the rate of 10,000 sheets per hour, or 100 times faster than the beginning of the century. For a wonderful visual overview, see the Historical Survey of the Letterpress Press (Museum of Printing)
Martin Antonetti, curator of rare books, demonstrates the historical craft of printing with metal type. The 19th-century iron handpress was restored by Antonetti and Greg Young, the former director of the Clark Science Center Machine Shop, using a printer's manual they found in the rare book collection.
19th century letterpress printing of a newspaper with a stop cylinder press and metal type. The press is a Perreau & Brault manufactured in the 1870s in Paris, and is part of the antique press collection of the MIAT in Gent, Belgium.