Charles Knight (1791-1873) is best known today as the publisher of inexpensive literature for the masses. In addition to publishing The Penny Magazine for the Society of Useful Knowledge, he also assumed much of its editorial and authorship duties. He briefly served as the Society's superintendent of publications from 1827 to 1928.
Despite Knight's efforts, The Penny Magazine suffered financial losses due to heavy excise duties and declining subscriptions. Even so, Knight continued to produce compendiums of knowledge based on technological innovations. His Cyclopaedia of the Industry of All Nations and Pictorial Gallery of Arts were both created to complement the technologies and arts promoted at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London.
Knight presented readers with an in-depth look at the printing process. His Pictorial Gallery features illustrations of various printing technologies.
Some of these innovations include the stereotype foundry, the Stanhope press, the printers' "peel," the book binders' rolling machine, the common printing press, and the hydraulic press. His work also depicted the printing machine and a diagram of its cylinders, as well as the book binding processes of rounding the back, cutting machines, and sewing.
Along with advancements in printing technology, Knight's Cyclopaedia also emphasizes other industries, such as railroads, that made the rapid dissemination of knowledge possible.