The “Antica Stamperia Fabiani”: a Valuable Teaching Workshop

Antica Stamperia Fabiani

PETRITOLI – The oldest and best-documented printer's workshop dating from the second half of the nineteenth century, is the “Tipografia A. Manuzio”, to be found at Petritoli. Although all that remains of the original printer's are some books and manuals dating from the end of the nineteenth century, the volumes printed for cav. Luigi Mannocchi are of considerable historical interest. The present-day “Antica Stamperia Fabiani” collection has been situated at No. 3, Vicolo del Forno since 1957, and is composed of four extremely rare pieces of printing equipment: a cast-iron contact printer with wooden cross-beams produced by Amos dell' Orto in Monza in 1841 (the only complete example in Italy); a cast-iron hand-press made by L. Magnoni & Sons of Monza in about 1850; a piano-roll machine by Carlo Magnoni & C. Monza from about 1850; and finally, another press by the C.M. Zini foundry in Milan, dating from about 1880. Several clichès used in those times can still be found at the “Antica Stamperia Fabiani”. Some are made of copper, others of wood, as well as numerous type-faces (in lead alloy or wood). The “Antica Stamperia Fabiani” project permits students to interact with this valuable antique equipment. Moreover, the staff will readily explain and illustrate printing techniques and their various phases just as they were in the nineteenth century and at the beginning of the twentieth. The students are welcomed in a large room in the printers' workshop where the history of the press and the Fabiani family, who have been printers in Petritoli since 1903, are succinctly explained. Different type-faces are then introduced (usually those made of varying mixtures of lead, tin and antimony alloy, plus a little copper) and the art of the compositor is illustrated as the various words to be printed are combined. Once the bed of the printing press is ready, the wooden or lead-alloy characters are assembled, the printer is inked with a special rubber roller. The sheet of paper, which has already been cut to the right shape, is placed on the inked form, which is then covered. Next, the bed slides underneath the press and a special lever sets the machinery going. At this point, the bed and its contents are impressed on the sheet of paper. Once the lever is put back into its original position and the bed slides out, the freshly-printed sheet is ready to be laid out to dry. The sheets produced are given to the school and the material that the pupils will work on back in their classrooms will be made into a book published by the local branch of the “Archeoclub d’Italia”. The didactic aims of the project are: (i) to learn about the history of the art of printing; (ii) to understand the printing process; (iii) to experiment with antique printing equipment; (iv) to stimulate the students' creativity and imagination, plus their ability to work in teams and coordinate their activities; (v) to encourage the comparison of new and old crafts, "from computer... to press... to computer"; thus bearing witness to local craftsmanship and its historical legacy.

 

 

 

Torchio Stanhope "Amos Dell'Orto in Monza" (1841)

"Nell'Antica Stamperia Fabiani di Petritoli
il Torchio più antico del suo genere in Italia"
(Censimento James Clough)