Saturday, January 21, 2006

The History of Printing the Scriptures: The Crandall Museum

The Crandall Historic Printing Museum in Provo is one of the least well known, yet most fabulous, attractions in Utah County. It opened in 1998. Last Tuesday they held a special open house to celebrate the 300th birthday of Benjamin Franklin. When my wife noticed the announcement in the paper, I knew I had to take the Young Men in our ward for their activity that evening.

We walked through the small building and saw the world's only working replica of a Gutenburg press. The press that Gutenburg invented was actually converted from an old olive press. He developed the inks and metal alloys that would be used, with some variations, well into the 20th century.

The museum shows a replica of a press like Ben Franklin used to print his famous alamanacs. The tour leader explains the vital nature of printing in the founding of America. This sets us up perfectly to see a replica of the press that E. B. Grandin used in printing the first edition of the Book of Mormon. The printing was a 7 month affair, if I recall correctly. It is difficult to imagine the amount of labor involved.

Museum goers get to see how the pages of the first edition of the Book of Mormon were printed, folded, cut, and bound. It is a remarkable and time intensive process. It makes me feel all the more grateful for the laser printers I take so much for granted. Heck, my copier at work will take a 40 page document and print it on 11x17 paper, fold, and staple it into a booklet with no intervention on my part other than a few settings in a print dialog box. Technology is amazing! And the technology of the printing press was no less amazing in its day than computer technology is in our day.

If you get the chance, I highly recommend the museum. The tour normally takes 2 hours. They charge $3 per person with a $45 minimum charge. They have regular hours, but will schedule a tour at any time to accomodate a group request.


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