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First Impressions

50 years that changed the world

[Printing press workshop]
Printing press workshop, from Encyclopédie ou dictionaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers, 1769.

The advent of movable type in the mid 15th century, the subsequent explosion of printed material, and the advances in print and the related technologies during the years that followed can be said to have heralded the start of the modern age as we know it.

The impact of the first 50 years of printing on social, economic, political and religious history is still being felt today.

The Library's First Impressions project, funded by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) aims to highlight the significance of those early years of printing — and to make the Library's remarkable collections of early printed books more accessible through public events, workshops and new online resources.

Find out more about the early years of print in the First Impressions web pages

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