A phrase used for the number of books to be printed. Thus they say, There is 1000, 2000, 3000, &c. Laid on.— M. We also use the phrase, but without any regard to number; as, such a press is going to lay a form on — such a press has laid a form on — What form shall we lay on?
It is usual, when a work is printed in sheets, to take the inner form first; the only motive, to my knowledge, for this custom is, that, where there are many presses at work, it prevents the pressmen taking advantage of each other, by those who are first off choosing the form that has the least difficulty in working. An old reason assigned for this practice is, that it is advantageous to the bookbinders in beating the book, preparatory to binding it; as the indentions of the types face each other, and are more easily made smooth; but the indentions would face each other equally if the usual order of working the forms were reversed. When there are wood cuts in one form, and none in the other, then the form without cuts should be worked first; as working the cuts last prevents the indention of the types appearing on the engraving, which would otherwise necessarily take place to its prejudice.
The term is also used in printing at machines, where a boy lays a sheet on a board, or on a travelling web, in order to its being conveyed round the cylinders to be printed.