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Books of this class, themselves series of explanations, require fewer prefatory remarks than those of any other; yet I cannot allow the present work to go before the public without availing myself of this privilege of authors. It affords me an opportunity of acknowledging, which I do most gratefully, the kind and valuable assistance I have received during my protracted labours, and of saying a few words on the History of Printing, the limits of the book, the style of writing adopted, and on the introduction of subjects that at a first glance may appear to have but little or no connexion with the art.
I am indebted to Mr. Fehon, of Mr. Bentley's establishment, Bangor House, Shoe Lane, for the valuable article on Records, who is, perhaps, more competent than any other printer in the kingdom for such an undertaking; and also for his judicious opinions during the progress of the work. Mr. Murray kindly prepared the specimens of electrotype by his improved method, for which method he received a premium from the Society of Arts. To Mr. Knight I am obliged for permission to copy the list of botanical terms from his Encyclopædia. From the letter founderies of Mr. Caslon, of Messrs. Figgins, and of Messrs. Thorowgood and Besley, I have obtained the various alphabets, &c., and am happy to acknowledge the courteous manner in which these and other kindnesses were granted. To other friends who feel an interest in the work, and have rendered me their services, I beg to tender my sincere thanks. The books quoted are each mentioned with every quotation, therefore there will be no necessity to recapitulate them here; I may, however, state, that they are the works of standard authors, as it has been my endeavour to refer to the opinions of men whose talents and learning are generally acknowledged, rather than to opinions perhaps more pertinent in works but little known.
The origin of the art is involved in obscurity, there being no clue by which it can be traced, yet it is doubtless of very early date: some authors maintain that printing was practised during the building of Babylon. It is not my intention, however, to enter upon this inquiry here, as it is probable, if my health continue, that I shall embody the facts and information I have been so long collecting on this subject in another work. The dates given of the introduction of the practice into Europe by previous writers are unquestionably erroneous, as we have conclusive evidence of its being followed as a profession for nearly a century before the earliest date they give. There has, in reality, hitherto been but little said on the History or Practice of Printing, the numerous