The Printers’ Devil

. This trade term origi­nated in Italy. Aldus Manutius was a printer in Venice. He owned a negro boy, who helped him in his office; and some of his customers were superstitious enough to believe that the boy was an emissary of Satan. He was known all over the city as “the little black devil” from his dirty appearance, as his face and hands were generally well smudged with print­ing ink. Desiring to satisfy the curiosity of his patrons, Manutius one day exhibited the boy in the streets, and proclaimed as follows: “I, Aldus Manutius, Printer to the Holy Church and the Doge, have this day made public ex­posure of the Printers’ Devil. All who think he is not flesh and blood may come and prick him!”

Taken from Gesta Typographica by Chas. Jacobi, 1897, page 3.

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The Printers’ Devil

The decree of the Star Chamber

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