PROVO, Utah – What is considered to be the world’s greatest single invention? This and many more fun facts can be discovered at 275 East Center Street in Provo, where the Crandall Historical Printing Museum stands as a journey back through five centuries of printing press history.
Founded by Louis E. Crandall, the museum is the home to antique printing equipment collected for more than 50 years, including the world’s most complete Gutenberg press – the first printing press ever built. The museum provides a hands-on, one-of-a-kind adventure through the most prominent print shops in human history, where every minute there is worth the trip.
The first stop is an exciting introduction to the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg. Reenacted by one of the talented museum hosts, visitors experience the challenges and triumphs Gutenberg embraced in bringing printed word to the world. They can watch the press in motion as it is inked and pressed to print a copy of a page from the Gutenberg Bible, and can even see a beautiful rare page from the original book itself, printed in Germany in 1452.
With basic understanding from the first exhibit, visitors then venture into the print shop of the famous American patriot, Benjamin Franklin. Here, the tales of Thomas Paine’s influential pamphlets, Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanac , and other printed articles that contributed to the revolutionizing of the American nation are shared around an exact replica of Franklin’s English Common Press.
The original is now housed in the Smithsonian Institution. This is yet another opportunity to share in the museum staff’s enthusiasm for the great accomplishments of the printing press.
The revolutionary account in the Franklin room is followed by that of the restorative work in the E. B. Grandin Print Shop room and binding rooms. The E.B. Grandin room is home to an old Model 5 Linotype, which casts (or molds) entire lines for printing, replacing the tedious letter-by-letter placement method.
Next to it is one of only two exact replicas of the Acorn Hand Press, which printed the first edition Book of Mormon. The other replica is housed in the E.B. Grandin Press in Palmyra, New York, with the original in the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City, Utah. Museum hosts share insight and witnesses of the Lord’s hand in the printing of the Book of Mormon as they demonstrate the printing of its first 16 pages, as well as the sewing and binding of its leather cover.
From the Gutenberg Bible to the Book of Mormon and the many chronicles in between, the Crandall Historical Printing Museum features a truly an incredible and worthwhile experience. Louis E. Crandall testifies that, his wish is to “provide visitors with a personal, hands-on experience supporting my testimony that the printing of the scriptures was guided by the hand of the Lord.”
The museum is open to walk-in visitors from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays, with lectures and demonstrations presented by appointment. Admission is $3 per person, with group rates or presentations available upon request. Plan a visit to learn more about marvelous inventions. See website or call 801/377-7777 for more details.