THERE is a prevalent notion that setting type by hand is not now as important a part of the printer’s vocation as it was years ago. Ingenious composing machines now perform so much of the work of putting into printable shape the literature of the world that it is often assumed the hand compositor’s occupation is fast disappearing and does not offer much inducement for an ambitious young man to follow seriously. This is a mistaken notion entertained only by those who have a limited conception of printing craftsmanship and its possibilities for the exercise of individual skill.
It is true that the greater part of the composition for ordinary printing is now done by machines, just as in other lines of industry machines are relieving human hands of the drudgery in large-scale production by multiplying products through mechanical operations. But that the work of the hand compositor is any less important now than it ever has been is far from the fact. Behind the great volume of machine work, and absolutely essential for any effective use of machine product, there is greater need than ever before of the hand-work and head-work of trained compositors.