Traditional lithography didn't suit every task, particularly when most printing was still done by letterpress and the music was to be mixed in with normal text such as hymn books. Printing blocks were the answer. They were the same height as the type used and could be incorporated into a normal letterpress job. The alternative was to set them in special music type, a more complex and sophisticated version of the early type shown below. I've attached my rather poor photo showing a demo of how the music was built up from many tiny parts. Once it was set together with all the text, a stereotype cast was usually taken to print from and which could be stored for future use, allowing the music and text type to be distributed back into the case for re-use.

Printing Block

Printing Block

The printing block at the top was used to print the music shown. Note the mirror image.

Printing Block

Printing Block

The plate has a blue tinge from the ink.

Printing Block

Printing blocks for a music book.

Printing Block

Printing Block

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Stephen H.