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YE OLDE PRINTER Bookends

Ye Olde Printer:  Electroform  bronze.  Height 5 inches.  Markings:  Ye Olde Printer, Ruhl Sc (sculptor) (John Ruhl, 1873-1940.) Armor Bronze shopmark.  Circa 1915.

 

Johannes Gutenberg, German blacksmith, goldsmith, inventor, printer, publisher, entrepreneur, invented metal movable type in about 1440.  He adapted the use of metal type to a screw press (already available) to form a printing press that enabled the rapid production of books, the first of which was the Gutenberg Bible.   Similar printing presses were built all over Europe, and millions of books appeared and were distributed thereafter.  This was the information revolution of that distant age.

Illustration of a printing press and composing stick from the first edition (1766-7) of the Encyclopaedia Brittannica, Vol. 3, plate CXLVII, Figure 1. https://www.britannica.com/technology/printing-press

The writings and pictures by Martin Luther (1483-1546), Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531), and  John Calvin( 1509-1564 were printed on Gutenberg presses and their wide-spread availablity was critical to the initiation of the Protestant Reformation.

William Gilbert (1544-1603), an English scientist and physician to Queen Elizabeth I, published Die Magnete in 1600 which was his pioneering work in experimental science.  In it he presented the structure and procedures of experimental science for the first time, and this was arguably the greatest invention of secular humanity for all time. The Gutenberg printing press sped the dissemination of the scientific method across the literate world. 

These bookends, entitled Ye Olde Printer, depict a Gutenberg printing press.  The printer moves a handle which turns a screw, and the screw presses a plate of inked type to a medium of paper or other material.  The words formed by the inked type are transferred to the paper this way.  The screw is visible at the back of the press.  The immensely significant Gutenberg press is certainly a suitable subject for bookends.

UPDATE:  Chris Bernhard sent photos of his Ye Olde Printer bookends.  They are also sculpted by J. Ruhl and produced by Armor Bronze and are taller and more colorful.  And they are a good addition to the post.

 

 
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Posted by on February 28, 2019 in Art Styles, Literary

 

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THE SPINNING WHEEL: A Symbol of American Protest

 

Spinning Wheel Bookends: grey metal with faux ivory (celluloid) face and hands, bakelite base.  Height 6.5 inches. Marked J. Ruhl (sculptor John Ruhl,  1873-1940 ).  Attributed to Hirsch foundry.  circa 1930.  The drive wheel spins at a touch. 

In Colonial times, women spun fibers into yarn on spinning wheels and produced home-made clothing. As the colonies grew, production of wool and wool products allowed for export of these commodities to Britain and other nations.  In 1699 the British forbid their colonies to export wool products in order to protect their textile industry.  The effect of this WOOL ACT of 1699 was to force all commercially produced wool and wool products to be sold to England after which it was resold back to the colonies.  Colonial people then persevered in spinning yarn and producing cloth in order to protest against the Wool Tariffs imposed by Britain. 

The spinning wheel became an important, widespread symbol of resistance to British rule in the run-up to the American Revolution.   At that time, to quote from Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s The Age of Homespun (Vintage, 2001), “Only six newspaper stories explicitly described the spinners as ‘Daughters of Liberty.’ ‘Young women’ was the usual designation, though terms like ‘Daughters of Industry,’ ‘the fair sex,’ and even ‘noble-hearted Nymphs’ also appeared. Reports from Roxbury and Chebacco alluded to public events, referring to the ‘intolerable Burdens now Laid upon us’ and to the necessity of recovering ‘our rights, properties and privileges,’ but the story from Harpswell cautioned that ‘the Ladies are impressed with such a nice Sense of their Liberties derived from their Maker, as not to be very fond of the tyrannic Restraints or the scheming Partisans of any Party…’”

The art of spinning in the United States is kept alive by handicrafters who demonstrate their skill in spinning, weaving and sewing at nostalgic museums such as Williamsburg, Old Salem, and in exhibitions at fairs such as the San Diego County Fair in Del Mar.  Even as spinning has become an re-enactment art form and no longer provides a means of protest ……………..these bookends remind us of our early resistance to foreign domination. 

 

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