History of Printing

 

In fact, the invention of printing technique dates back to centuries before Gutenberg whose name has been recorded as the inventor of printing, moreover, several thousand years before Christ, Assyrian people used to seal clay bricks. Moveable letters were first used by Chinese between 1051 and 1058. These letters were invented by a person named Bi Sheng and were made of clay which were introduced after moveable letters, didn’t become much popular.  However, wooden letters became very popular. Finally, in 1440, a Gutenberg who apparently was unaware of the Chinese invention, invented the moveable letters, and used one separate letter for each of the alphabet letters. The moveable letters were by the Chinese.  But Gutenberg who was a goldsmith, used lead and antimony to develop the suitable alloy for casting the letters and combined these two metals in such a proportion that the letters are not too hard nor too soft. Finally, he found a suitable formula for printing ink and by overcoming the obstacles and problems, made printing feasible.

In fact, the invention of printing technique dates back to centuries before Gutenberg whose name has been recorded as the inventor of printing, moreover, several thousand years before Christ, Assyrian people used to seal clay bricks. Moveable letters were first used by Chinese between 1051 and 1058. These letters were invented by a person named Bi Sheng and were made of clay which were introduced after moveable letters, didn’t become much popular.  However, wooden letters became very popular. Finally, in 1440, a Gutenberg who apparently was unaware of the Chinese invention, invented the moveable letters, and used one separate letter for each of the alphabet letters. The moveable letters were by the Chinese.  But Gutenberg who was a goldsmith, used lead and antimony to develop the suitable alloy for casting the letters and combined these two metals in such a proportion that the letters are not too hard nor too soft. Finally, he found a suitable formula for printing ink and by overcoming the obstacles and problems, made printing feasible.

Almost 20 years after Gutenberg's first efforts in the printing industry, this industry which was manifested on embossed surfaces, gained a limited popularity in Venice, Florence, Paris and Lyon. But, due to the high cost of Gutenberg’s printing machine, it was only accessible for the rich that is why it was not welcomed for a long time. 300 years after Gutenberg invented the printing machine, a German playwright named Alois Senefelder, invented lithography in 1796. Each stone on which a text or image was carved using this method, could have optimum performance for up to 750 copies, and then the carved image on the stone was not printable. Although there are several stories about the start of lithography in Iran, it seems lithography was first launched in Tabriz by Mirza Saleh Shirazi. Mirza Saleh who had be deployed to Europe by the Iranian government to acquire new arts, brought a lithography machine to Tabriz and launched it in 1250 AH. Shortly after that, lithography centers were founded in Tehran, Isfahan and other cities of Iran and it was the only printing technique in Iran for more than 50 years up until the end of the Qajar period.

However, eight years before the advent of lithography in Iran, lead printing was already launched in this country, but due to its high cost and inconvenience, was abandoned after the advent of lithography, and later in the late Qajar period, the lead letters and use of lead printing became popular again.  Lead printing had a relatively simple procedure. First the Paper was pressed on a panel which consisted of embossed lead letters which were smeared with ink, and under this pressure, the letters were depicted on the paper. Newspaper typesetting was first done manually, but then, some devices the most common of which was named "linotype" were used to perform Newspaper typesetting. Linotype automated typesetting machine was built in 1886. Thus, the printing speed was gradually increased. With development of technologies, the Lead typesetting machine was gradually abandoned and gave way to electronic devices. Some believe that the advent of printing in Iran dates back to the Ilkhanid era, some presume that Persian speaking Jews recognized the importance of book printing before any other Persian speaking groups.  In 1639 three books about evangelism were printed in Persian language and script in Leiden and the publication where these books were printed was apparently the world's first Persian publication throughout the world. Based on the available evidence, the first book printed in Iran was the Psalms of David or Saghmvs that was printed in 1638 in the Armenian language and script in 572 pages by the Armenian priests in the Julfa of Isfahan.

 The fact that, Armenian people, before other Ethno-linguistic groups in Iran, have managed to establish their own publications, and freely publish their Christian resources and achieve the fifteenth place in terms of printing antiquity among the nations, has different reasons, The most important of which is the free and encouraging environment provided particularly by Shah Abbas Safavi and other rulers of the dynasty for them. About 30 years after their immigration to Julfa, the Armenian people established a publication in this city and began to print books.  Based on references of foreign tourists, especially Chardin, a number of Iranians in the Safavid era were familiar with printing and publication and were eager to bring it to the country. John Pinkerton and Jones henvy, who traveled to Iran during the Nader Shah Afshar era, spoke about pamphlets that were published in Latin and Arabic. Major changes in printing technology and publishing materials, such as books, newspapers and other materials, started from Abbas Mirza Qajar ruling period that coincides with the consequences of the Russo-Iranian wars, the publication whose existence is clearly approved by current evidence, was established in 1233 by Mr. Zine El Abidine and support of Abbas Mirza Tabrizi in Tabriz. Fath-Name of  Mirza Abolghasem Ghaem Magham Farahani is a detailed description of Russo-Iranian wars,  is apparently the first Persian book that has been printed and published in Dhu al-Hijjah 1234 in Iran.