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Block printing was the original method of printing. Called xylography it worked by pressing individual sheets of paper onto a carved wooden block. China is thought to be the birthplace of block printing, and we have extant copies of Buddhist scripture (the Diamond Sutra) dating back to 868 A.D. This technique was also used to print Bibles in Europe. There was a great deal of labor required to carve large amounts of tiny text onto the wooden blocks. This fact, combined with the high illiteracy rate of the time led to the “Pauper’s Bible” which consisted primarily of illustrations with small amounts of text. The method of printing required that a new block be carved for each page printed. As this was very time consuming it limited the number of different books that could be printed.


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