One interesting question is whether or not Gutenberg’s final printing surface was the original moveable type or a secondary casting from an intermediate mold the size of a page or column. What happens to the actual image of type when it goes from design to print is the topic for another day. First we wrestle with the vague word “quality” and how it applies to the pressure applied to, and left in, the printed sheet.
Quality of impression depends on two things, evenness of impression achieved by makeready and the hardness of the surface delivering the pressure. In general, the harder the printing surface, the better the quality of impression. Therefore, with respect to quality of impression, it does not matter whether Gutenberg’s final printing surface was individual moveable types cast from the lead, antimony and tin mixture of type metal or a secondary plate cast from type metal with a large mold made from the individual types set into a page or “form,” so long as the resulting “plate” is flat enough to be inked and impressed with the same quality as the type form.