The famous novelist Pearl S. Buck once said, "If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday." Revisiting the past is a good starting point for understanding how today's lightning fast digital printing technology descended from the often intense, hands on printing of the previous five centuries.
The Angels Camp Museum has a recreated early 20th Century print shop that encourages visitors to make sense of that history and experience the past in a personal way. This little gem known as the Old Font Print Shop can be found in the Artisan's Exhibits section of the Mining & Ranching Building.
This exhibit's frozen "moment in time" celebrates one of the greatest inventions of human history, the printing press. It has been said that the printing press brought about the dissemination and democratization of knowledge throughout the world, changing the course of history over and over.
If you are lucky enough to visit the Museum on a Living History Day, you might learn firsthand how to set type or even how to run the press from volunteer "old school" printers Bob Petithomme and Bob Hillis. These gentlemen are experts at explaining the function of the 1870s Ostrander - Seymour hand press and the 1903 Challenge – Gordon job press, plus all of the fascinating details that were once second nature to the printing business.
Be sure to ask them what a Printer's Devil was. Once you've experienced the Old Font Print Shop, you will appreciate how much we owe our ancestors who dutifully kept the printed word alive.
Chuck Schneider is the museum coordinator for the Angels Camp Museum, 753 S. Main St., Angels Camp.