In Spring 2016, MIT undergraduates working in the MIT Hobby Shop under the direction of Ken Stone '72 built a Gutenberg-facsimile letterpress. Here you see two scenes from the construction phase, and the final product as it now appears in the print shop. The plans for building the letterpress are available here.
Students in 21H.343/CC.120 also experiment with paper-making, using techniques from the Early Modern period. On the far right is a package of Dante type the shop ordered from the Bixler Press and Letterfoundry in upstate New York.
In 21H.343 / CC.120 in the Fall 2018 term, we are going to try our hand at casting type in the Merton C. Flemings Materials Processing Laboratory in the basement of Building 4. The first step is to carve a reverse image of the letter in a wax block, after which a rubber solution is poured around the wax block to form a mold. In the final phase a solution of molten tin and lead is poured into the rubber mold. When it hardens, the metal block is removed from the mold. Above you see our initial efforts at creating an upper case "A" and "J." On the right Mike Tarkanian, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, sands one of our letters to the proper height for printing while Professor McCants watches.
Each semester groups of students in 21H.343/CC.120 design, set, and print an eight-page pamphlet. Here you see type and image set on the bed of the press; students inking type and images; a freshly imprinted sheet; and students in the Wunsch Conservation Lab of the MIT Libraries with their newly-bound pamphlets.