Forthcoming PHS events

Conference on twentieth century printing history

The Printing Historical Society, the Centre for Printing History and Culture and The National Print Museum, Dublin, have announced a conference on twentieth century printing history. Entitled From craft to technology and back again: print’s progress in the twentieth century, the conference will be hosted by the National Print Museum in Dublin on 30 and 31 March 2017.

During the twentieth century the printing industry underwent considerable change as it shifted from a craft-based trade to a technology-led profession, largely as a result of three major revolutions. In the composing room there was a move from hand- to machine composition followed by photo-setting and finally digital means of letter assembly; while in the press room printers experienced a shift from letterpress to off-set lithography and latterly digital methods of production.

These revolutions initiated both organisational and structural changes: compositors moved out of the printing office and re-located to trade typesetting houses; printers concentrated wholly on graphic reproduction and presswork; whilst design was undertaken by professional typographers working in private practice, remote from the trade typesetters or printing office. Change brought new methods of management into the industry and old grievances surfaced which often resulted in unrest, marking the twentieth century as an era of industrial disputes with the rise and demise of the print unions.

Education and training were seen as necessary in the management of change, with the advent of formal education for printers and the emergence of school-trained professional typographic designers who assumed a defined and prominent role in the preparation of printed products, which showcased typographic trends and new modes of graphic communication.

External factors also affected the industry including political upheaval, two world wars, fluctuating economies, international competition, politics and changing social values all impacted on print’s progress.

However, the end of the twentieth century also saw a revival of interest in craft techniques and an increase in the number of printers who chose not to be taken over by technology but held to older methods of production in order to satisfy a rising alternative market of customers seeking tradition and craft.

The call for papers is now closed.

The venue for the conference will be the National Print Museum, Garrison Chapel, Beggar's Bush Barracks, Haddington Rd, Dublin, Ireland.

The members of the organising committee are: Professor Caroline Archer (Centre for Printing History & Culture); Anne Brady (National Print Museum, Dublin); Francis Cave (Printing Historical Society); Dr Christopher Hill (Centre for Printing History & Culture); Dr John Hinks (Printing Historical Society); Carla Marrinan (National Print Museum, Dublin); Sean Sills (National Print Museum, Dublin)