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Collection of technical drawings of French Printing Press

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.10086

Scope and Contents

The drawings, made by Augustin Guery, include plans, elevations and sections of the printing press, as well as details of the ironwork and several tools, a brayer, palet knife, a mallet for planing formes and a knife for scraping the ink balls. Done in pen and ink and watercolour, these are highly accurate drawings at a scale of 1:5 for the plans and elevations and 1:3 for the details. They were completed over a period of 3 weeks from 11 November to 2 December, taking 5 days for each sheet and were signed off by the professor, Bausart on 3 December, the day after the last sheet was completed. The drawings provide details of a highly developed common press which are unavailable from surviving presses. They were made by a student at the famous French military academy at Metz. Following Gaskell’s typology, the Metz press has a modified Blaeu hose running in an iron till, no head bolts or guide boards, ratchet girth winch. The platten, 29.5 x 45.5cm, is wooden and suspended by screws; the distance between the cheeks is 61.5cm; and the internal dimensions of the coffin coffin is 77 x 57cm. This makes it quite similar the Italian presses in Gaskell’s census, D1 and I1, the latter built in Florence in 1817–18. In the late eighteenth-century a number of improvements to the wooden press were put forward, including Anisson-Duperron’s massive one-pull press with a two-pitch screw. However surviving presses and printer’s manuals tell a very different story of wooden press building continuing along traditional lines, alongside innovative iron presses. What is interesting about the Metz press is that it applies precision engineering to the traditional mechanisms. One feature is however perhaps taken from Anisson, the provision of a funel above the screw to keep it lubricated.


  • Creation: 1814

Conditions Governing Access

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

Biographical / Historical

Colonel de Génie Augustin Guery (1793-1856), from the Vosges region, was a pupil at the Ecole d’application de Metz and then Officier du Génie, 1814–1823. The Archives de la Moselle online list his notes, memoires, teaching notes and other documents from this period, as well as plans and drawings 1814–1818. Further documents relating to the Ecole régimentaire du Génie de Metz date from 1836–1848.


1 archive box(es) (1 box paper) : paper

5 sheet(s) : Paper

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Originally kept by a scientist with distant connections to the Guery family, then held by Librairie Paul Jammes, Paris

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Acquired by the Library in 2015 from bookseller Roger Gaskell


Philip Gaskell, ‘A Census of Wooden Presses’, JPHS 6 (1970)1–32; James Moran, Printing Presses: History and Development from the fifteenth century to modern times (London: Faber, 1973)
‘Improving the Wooden Press’, pp. 39–473; Etienne Alexandre Jacques Anisson-Duperron, Premier mémoire sur l'impression en lettres, suivi de la description d'une nouvelle presse exécutée pour le service du Roi, (Paris: Moutard, 1785).
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
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Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom