Lexicon Valley

Watch This 1925 Silent Film About the Creation, Literally, of the OED

The Oxford University Press bookshop.

Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Long before digitization threatened print, mechanization enabled it. The Oxford University Press archive has unearthed this wonderful silent film, made in 1925 by the Federation of British Industry, showing the step-by-step creation of a book. The movie employs title cards, clever camerawork, and even animation to bring the viewer into the process—from casting type by hand to stitching together the binding to pressing on gold leaf.

The many sure-fingered factory workers may be anonymous but the end result is not—a hardbound volume of the Oxford English Dictionary. Set aside 18 minutes and enjoy!