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Friday, May 17, 2013

Raise a glass to the ingenuity of Victorian printers this holiday weekend

Portrait of Queen Victoria
This weekend Canada celebrates Victoria Day (Fête de la Reine in French), a federal public holiday scheduled on the last Monday before May 25th in honour of Queen Victoria’s birthday.  (Canada also celebrates current reigning sovereign Queen Elizabeth II’s official birthday on the same date.)

Victoria Day rates special mention in my Printing Blog because Queen Victoria's reign (1837-1901) was a time of extraordinary innovation by printers, whose inventions included:

·          Steam-powered presses for printing large numbers of pages
·          Powered lithography equipment with metal plates replacing the original limestone slabs
·          The introduction of chromolithography using multiple litho plates to produce multi-coloured impressions. 
Victorian linotype machine
Informally, even Canadians who aren't monarchists often consider Victoria Day as marking the beginning of the summer season; but the important technological advancements of Victorian printers give us cause for yet another toast.