Monday, September 21, 2009

That New-Fangled Printing Press

Slate has an interesting article about two new biographies of Frank Baum, the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. One thing struck me as odd, though. Meghan O'Rourke writes that Baum published Oz in 1900, at the age of 44. After saying that he was a sickly, dreamy child, she continues
But he also reveled in newfangled inventions like the printing press (which, as a teenager, he used to put out a literary journal) and, later, bicycles, Model Ts, and movies.
I'm baffled at the suggestion that the printing press would have seemed "newfangled" in the late 1800's. Seriously? It was invented in the 15th century and my scanty knowledge of U.S. history suggests it was commonly in use at least around the time of the American revolution (and most likely before, of course).

What am I missing?


Sally said...

Agreed - the printing press was in common use in the Colonies prior to the American Revolution. I think you're missing that the author of the article knows less than you do about the history of the printing press.

Tam said...

I'm thinking there was some kind of NEW printing press in Baum's time - a kind a teenager could maybe have one of to make his own prints - and that's what he was into. But the way it was written sure doesn't make that clear.

rvman said...

I don't know exactly when it came out, but someone did invent in the late 19th or early 20th century a printing press for small batches which was smaller than normal, and could have the type changed relatively quickly. It may have been something along those lines.