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The presses of Johannes Gutenberg and the early printers combined movable metal type with oil-based ink (more durable than water-based inks) and the hand press. A reusable mould enabled mass production of individual metal types for setting series of pages at a time. The earliest typography mimicked the scribal hand, then through the 16th and 17th centuries aimed to perfect the calligraphic art of well-proportioned letters plotted onto mathematical grids. But people were increasingly reading books to gain information, and in the mid-18th century, a family of French printers developed a typeface that embodied the Enlightenment spirit of rationality and elegant plainness—Didot. Technological advancement affected methods not only of printing but also of compositing. From the time of Gutenberg, the compositor used to have ...

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