One of the misfortunes of the digital age is the loss of a colorful and stereotypical character that once populated printing companies throughout the United States. It’s well known that Mark Twain started his career as a printer for his brother’s newspaper in Hannibal, Missouri. When he left Hannibal in 1853, he became a journeyman pressman, perfecting his printing skills in St. Louis, New York, and Philadelphia.
The journeyman was a fixture in the printing trade of the late 1800s and early twentieth century. They were an itinerant group with specialized skills that were in demand wherever they landed, but also considered to be uniformly insufferable by the owners of the printing concerns that they drifted through. Cranky, finicky, and protective of their art, they had no patience with other workers. Interestingly enough, many were illiterate, but had no respect for the other “monkeys” who composed, set type, or performed the time and labor intensive duties that enabled the pressman to practice their craft.
It’s a fair guess that Twain would be both amazed and dismayed if he could witness the activity in a modern printing company. If the famous author walked into Thomas Press today, he might actually recognize a couple of old presses that are still in service, but the machines that do the daily work might be dismissed as sheer magic.
The days of the journeyman pressman are long gone, and the digital printing equipment that printers use to practice our craft today really isn’t magical. The onward march of technology has certainly changed the role of print, but it has simultaneously made it more accessible and affordable. Digital print has replaced the labor intensive process of Twain’s day and greatly expanded the range of possibilities for organizations who realize the enduring value of print.
New Opportunities with Digital Print
Here are just a few of the benefits that digital print provides for Thomas Press customers: