Joseph Moxon, Mechanick Exercises: Or, the Doctrine of Handy-Works, Applied to the Art of Printing. London: Printed for Joseph Moxon, 1683.
The son of a printer, Joseph Moxon learned the trade of printing early, but also achieved expertise in other disciplines, including mathematics, astronomy, globe- and map-making, and wood-working. His greatest contemporary recognition came when he was appointed to the post of Hydrographer to the King, a position in which he was responsible for maintaining ofﬁcial charts of ocean navigation routes. Moxon’s most enduring achievement and the source of his lasting fame was the Mechanick Exercises, a series of useful tracts on “handy-works” published in two volumes. The second of these was devoted entirely to the arts of printing and typefounding. Herbert Davis and Harry Carter, in their exhaustively annotated 1962 edition of the Exercises, note that Moxon’s book “was by forty years the earliest manual of printing in any language, and it put in writing a knowledge that was wholly traditional. Though he did not himself live in a great age of printing, he described with great care the tools and the skilled movements that had produced the masterpieces of the craft in better days.” No manual ever provided more information about the construction and proper management of the printer’s primary tool in those days, the wooden common press; a modern-day reader, caught long enough under the manual’s spell, could still follow the directions and copper-plate diagrams and build such a press today. “A typographer ought to be a man of science,” said Moxon in justiﬁcation of his elaborately detailed manual, and he goes on to raise that individual to an even nobler elevation: “By a typographer I do not mean a printer, as he is vulgarly accounted … But by a typographer I mean such a one who, by his own judgement, from solid reasoning with himself, can either perform or direct others to perform, from the beginning to the end all the hand-works and physical operations relating to typographie. Such a scientiﬁc man was doubtless he who was the ﬁrst inventor of typographie.”