Printing the Virginia Gazette
Original Author: Unknown
Created: Unknown
Medium: Photograph
Publisher: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Printing the Virginia Gazette

A reenactor at Colonial Williamsburg proofreads a page of the Virginia Gazette that has been freshly printed on an eighteenth-century printing press. The printing process required intensive labor. Lines of type were hand-set and placed into wooden cases that were tied together and locked into an iron frame that was the size of a page. A mixture of varnish and lampblack was spread evenly over the type; moistened sheets of paper were then squeezed against the type with a pressure plate. The printing press exerted about 200 pounds of pressure, which had to be maintained for about fifteen seconds to create a clear and legible impression. The page of text then had to dry before the other side could be printed. The workday in a printer's shop could last as long as fourteen hours.