A fabulous flashback

Mini replica of a prototype.

Mini replica of a prototype.  

YOU WOULDN'T have seen it but it is still there and in good working condition too!

Photographic lens used in 1840 designed to provide a panoramic view of subjects, and flashes used in 1927 and 1940 are on display at a mini-exhibition held on the sidelines of `Print - n - Pack 2004', a printing and packaging fair, held under the auspices of the Madurai District Tiny and Small Scale Industries Association at Tamukkam Grounds in Madurai.

Among the things kept on display are a range of flashes and cameras considered to be obsolete because of the non-availability of the type of films required and the invention of modern gadgets including digital cameras.

According to S. Bharathy, member of Image Club, most of the cameras are part of the club's collection. Some belong to the personal collection of Thangavelu, a 75-year-old photographer of Madurai, collected since he was 10 years old.

The exhibition highlights the application of digital cameras in the printing industry and showcases some of the best equipment used in the printing and packaging industry. Though it is about printing and its allied trade, the packaging industry, it is an exhibition with a difference as it appeals not only to buyers and sellers but also to the public.

The expo, which is being organised with the support of the ZDH / SEQUA Partnership Programme and with the approval of the India Trade Promotion Organisation, is open till November 30. It underscores the evolution of printing with special reference to the industry's growth in Tamil Nadu.

The technology could not have developed but for the invention of the movable type by Gutenberg in 1452 and the advent of the printing press though the printing technology was known for centuries before J. Gutenberg conceived the movable type of the press by bringing together paper, oil-based ink and wine press to print books. Paper was brought from China to Italy in the 12th century but was considered too flimsy for making books. Before the advent of the printing press, books were made of vellum (calf or lamb skin) because it was durable.

For instance, in south India, printing evolved during the Travancore era. Charles Mead, a missionary, initiated printing in Nagercoil. Palm leaf manuscripts and paintings, especially Thanjavur and Rajasthani paintings were popular in India before the western type.

The transformation that occurred over the years has been captured in a capsule in the exhibition. One of the printers has displayed a miniature model of Gutenberg's printing machine.

The display includes printing and packaging machines, consumables, spares such as mini-offset and offset machines and allied products, perfect binding machines, bar coding and batch coding machines, mini-conveyors sealer, label printing machines, rubber rollers, moulded rubber parts, UPS, power systems, and blades.

J.V. Sivaprasanna Kumar

Photos: K. Ganesan

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