Hamlet and the Wolverine Press
An extraordinary project was undertaken at the Wolverine Press, the letterpress studio at the University of Michigan. Led by Rebecca Chung (UMSI) and Fritz Swanson (Wolverine Press), a team of U of M students worked on a handset edition based on the G gathering from the second quarto of Hamlet, published in 1604 and conventionally known as Q2. In this gathering, consisting of four leaves or eight pages, you can read what is probably the most famous soliloquy Shakespeare ever wrote: “To be, or not to be". In brief, the students recreated the old printing technique of setting the type as a compositor would have done it in the seventeenth century.
Each individual metal type representing a letter, a diacritic, or a punctuation sign, has to be set in reverse so that we eventually obtain the right reading when the forme is printed. Errors might be detected during setting the type, or even after a few impressions. This particular project was a team effort, which in fact was common in the hand-press period since several compositors could work setting the same book simultaneously.
Shakespeare & The Restoration