Industrial Revolution and the Printing Press

The Industrial Revolution, taking place from 1750 to 1850, brought radical changes to the United Kingdom’s culture and society because of the advancements in agriculture, technology, transportation, and manufacturing. Due to the drastic technological integration in the workplace, machines replaced workers, causing country-wide unemployment and homelessness rates to shoot sky-high. Workers, including artists and designers, were forced to adapt and create relationships with the new manufacturing instruments. Through this exploration of new tools, artists discovered various art forms, which, in turn, helped to advance the economy. One of such art form came through the use of the printing press.

Friedrich Koenig

Double cylinder printing press

The printing press, first built out of cast iron by Lord Stanhope, in 1800, greatly improved printing efficiency. Later, this model was modified by Frederich Koenig, who incorporated the steam engine, first invented in 1698, with a single cylinder. This “involved the type being curved around a cylinder” (Claire Lomas) rather than relying on wooden printing presses. Printing large quantities at an increased pace became possible by adding a second cylinder to the machine. Due to this progress, newspapers, specifically The Times, were able to produce up to 1,100 sheets per hour and were selling 7,000 copies per day. The sharing of ideas and entertainment through the printing means, such as in books, magazines or newspapers, became the main part of popular culture, “thus serving the moral as well as the physical needs of society” (Design, Society and Standards, 58).

By the end of the century, the printing press was distributed, utilized and redesigned worldwide, offering up prints of maps, books, brand labels for product containers, and poster advertisements. The design of present-time printers have come a long way since their steam-driven ancestors, but remain true to their purpose of distributing knowledge.



Modern printing press


Lomas, Claire. “The steam driven rotary press: The Times and The Empire.” The University of Winchester. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2012. <>.

“Relief Printing.” Infoplease. The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed., 2007. Web. 23 Sept. 2012. <>.

“Industrial Revolution.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation Inc., n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2012. <>.

“Design, Society, and Standards.” Part 1: Demand, Supply and Design 1700-1865. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2012. <>.


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