Founded in 1988 by David Jacobson and Ernest A. Lindner the International Printing Museum has perhaps the best collection of antique printing machinery in the world.
Massive iron and steel machines, works of mechanical genius made before letters could be turned into strings of 1s and 0s, crowd this impressive museum.
A guided tour of the museum, occasionally given by the museum director himself, will take you through the history of mechanical printing from wooden type blocks in Asia to the types of printers that printed Luthers bibles and brought about the reformation to fantastical machines of the 1900s, such as the astonishing Linotype machines, made to set type, and making possible modern newspapers.
The museum also features a replica of Ben Franklin’s working colonial printing shop, which features the 3rd oldest American-made printing press, and many other amazing and strange mechanical marvels such as the “Grasshopper” a strange press which looks like a giant insect rubbing its legs while it prints.
So unique and handsome are some of the machines that they have become stars in their own right and appear in numerous movies, among them Amistad, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, The Last Samurai, Newsies, Catch Me If You Can, Treasure Hunters, Gilmore Girls, and most recently Seven Pounds.
Visit California with Atlas Obscura Trips
Hip-Hop, Hippies, and Robots: Invention and Reinvention in San Francisco
We'll set out together, September 19-21, to explore unusual galleries, test our cocktail-making skills, and visit the city's best unofficial museum.