This Victorian scale model of a printing press was made in the Museum's own workshop.
Edinburgh Museum of Science and Art workshop
Width 81cm, length 198cm
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.