Ancient and modern printing, from mobile characters to computers is the theme of the museum set up in Carlazzo. Here one can see exposed antique-type lithographic presses, machines for the casting of the lead characters, the first cameras dating back from the end of nineteenth century and ancient books dating back to 1700. All material on show is accompanied by explanatory panels in Italian and English.
Guided tours only, to be booked in advance calling telephone number
Where we are
Ancient and modern printing, and its development from movable type to computer layout, is the topic of the museum set up in Carlazzo, along the Menaggio - Porlezza, halfway between Lake Como and Lake Lugano.
The Sampietro family has been working in publishing for over forty years, ever since the owner's father took over the machinery of the printing press Caccianiga and started his craft.
A part of the collected material, however, is much older, so we can follow the evolution of the art of printing almost from the beginnings to the present day, with explanations in the information panels in Italian and English, but above all by the expert and enthusiastic explanations provided by Attilio Sampietro.
The museum also houses a significant number of cameras, still in perfect working conditions : sylografia, lithography, etching, gravure will no longer be mysterious words but will take on a fascinating real meaning.
The exhibition starts of course from movable type made by hand, letter by letter, of which there are thousands of copies on show in wood and metal for the most part from the early 900. We then move to the mechanical composition with one of the first Intertype machines where the line, as typed on a typewriter, is etched in molten lead, obtaining the matrix, the latter, after use, the lead is melted and reused . Following there is a "Linotronic" of 1981 which does not leave an array of lead, but a "film", a further step toward crafting a computer, represented by one of the mythical "Macintosh Classic" of the early '90s.
Wide space is given to the reproduction of images with complex machines of the '50s and '60s: the reproingranditore with which to project the image from a camera film negative of the film to get the negative from an existing image, by which, through a Tournette 'centrifugal action extends a sensitive lacquer on copper or aluminum plates for offset printing, to Torchio tire where the film and the plate in contact are exposed to the halogen light and the slab after the washing is ready to go to the machine.
Regarding the act of actual printing, there are three presses on display: a press lithographic "knife" for printing with matrix stone, presumably end of the 1700 or beginning of 1800, an offset of the 50s that instead uses a metal plate, and the printing press personally built in the '40s by the artist Como Aldo Galli to print their own works. Here are two presses of half a century ago: a platen and a piano-cylindrical.
At the centre of the room a showcase collects tools and other objects and curious pliers to grab the tiny movable, two "composers" of wood where the characters were aligned, "the engraver's burin," various matrices for printing images buffers ranging from Tibetan wood printing fabrics, hand-engraved printing plates of linoleum and zinc than for print typography. Again: a beautiful eighteenth-century missal illustrated with etching, chalcographic plates and lithographic stones for holy pictures, and plaques for ex-libris in drypoint on copper of the famous artist-philosopher Henry Vannuccini.
There are two showcases dedicated to book-plates, which display only a fraction of the large “Sampietro Collection”, including several works by the above-mentioned Vannuccini (much appreciated in this field) and a Japanese book-plate belonging to the artist from Griante.
To complete the exhibition is a photographic section, ranging from glass-plate projectors and “tape machines” from the end of the nineteenth century, to the first Kodak roll-fimls of the 1940s, on to the instant-development Polaroid cameras, various epoch-making examples of photographic machinery, such as the Koni-Omega, the Rolliflex twin-lens of the ‘50s and the Linhof glass-plate, subsequently adapted to film around the 1970s.
The wall-charts summarise the history of printing (with special reference to the role of Giambattista Bodoni and to the educational work carried out by the Salesian schools) and illustrate the process of various printing techniques and the operation of the machinery on display.