This Victorian scale model of a printing press was made in the Museum's own workshop.

Printing press model fact file

Date

1885-88

Made in

Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art workshop

Made from

Metal

Dimensions

Width 81cm, length 198cm

Museum reference

T.1888.819

On display

Making It, Level 1, National Museum of Scotland

Did you know?

Some of the original tools used to make the model were also used to make new parts for the model during its conservation.  

A sizable problem

In the founding Victorian years of the Museum, large scale manufacturing and heavy industry powered nation and Empire. It was felt to be important to show people great machines and the ever-advancing engineering at their heart.

From a display point of view, however, there was a problem: these machines really were big. The solution to the problem of presenting these great machines was the production of precise, working, scale models. Remarkably, these were produced in-house by model makers in the Museum’s own workshops.

Foster stereo printing press model

Foster stereo printing press model

Foster stereo printing press model

A solution in miniature

Often working solely from the manufacturer’s written plans and specifications, they were produced with painstaking accuracy and engineering of the highest quality, using many of the same processes and materials as in the full-sized examples. These were enormously popular exhibits, with younger visitors keen to press the red button and watch the machines in action.

The Hall of Power c.1900

Above: The Hall of Power, c.1900.

The workshop, c.1909

Above: The workshop, c.1909.

Wylam Dilly working model

Above: Working model of the Wylam Dilly on display in the Hall of Power.

The roof top workshop c.1926. Models in the picture include a model water filter and the hull of a ship.

Above: The roof top workshop c.1926. Models in the picture include a model water filter and the hull of a ship.

Over a hundred years on, while the museum's displays have transformed enormously, visitors young and old continue to be fascinated by the working models on display, as you can see here:

Small print

The Foster stereo printing press is a fine example of a museum model. The original press was used by The Scotsman newspaper to print and fold newspapers, and required several printers to work as a team to operate it successfully. The model, a third of the size, was made in the Museum’s workshops in 1888 using original drawings by Messrs. J. Foster and Sons, Preston, who designed the full size machine.

Miniature edition of The Scotsman dated 29 October 1887, printed by the model press

Above: Miniature edition of The Scotsman dated 29 October 1887, printed by the model press.

Typesetting for the miniature paper

Above: Typesetting for the miniature newspaper.

This beautifully intricate model took several months of careful conservation in preparation for display in the Making It gallery at the National Museum of Scotland.

 Conserving the printing press model

Above: The printing press was painstakingly prepared for display at the National Museums Collection Centre.

The Foster printing press is part of

Edinburgh's 101 objects

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