Category Archives: PRINT

Olde Christmas Cards.

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Anthropomorphic birds and animals were another popular theme, as seen in this Christmas Reversed scene, where raw dinner ingredients get in a party mood.
Sending Christmas cards was a habit popularised by the Victorians, helped by the introduction, in 1840, of a uniform penny post.England’s first commercial Christmas card was printed in 1843, and is in the Laura Seddon collection at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Here, is a selection from its archive.
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Showing that there’s little new about the tactics of trick-or-treaters, a group of festive musicians make their presence known, and demand beer.
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This classic card was designed by the children’s book illustrator Walter Crane, a prominent member of the Arts and Crafts movement.
All Photographs: Ade Hunter/Manchester Metropolitan University
See more Images via Compliments of the season … Victorian Christmas cards – in pictures | Life and style | The Guardian.

George Phineas Gordon’s Platen Job Press

George Phineas Gordon’s Platen Job Press
Until 1880, inventors had to submit models along with their patent applications to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Some models were crudely made but others, like this wooden press, were fine and exacting replicas.
Known as the father of the platen press, George Phineas Gordon received his first patent in 1850 and submitted over 50 more in his lifetime. This particular patent, No. 148,050, implemented improvements in the operation of the platen, grippers and ink distribution.
Gordon’s platen, or job, press was one of the first truly American contributions to printing technology. The basic and fairly simple platen design was copied extensively.
About seventy different manufacturers in the US produced their own versions. In its day, it was used for small printing jobs like handbills, tickets, programs, and business forms.
Today, many commercial shops still have a “jobber” for imprinting, numbering or die-cutting; and it is a mainstay with letterpress printers.
The Museum of Printing has several versions of the Gordon press
Source: George Phineas Gordon’s Platen Job Press

A True Artisan at Work

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(AP Photo/Francisco Seco) Francisco Seco AP
Portuguese bookbinder, Ilidio Antonio, applies egg whites to the cover of new books as he works in his workshop in Lisbon, Portugal.
Antonio, who has been running his own business as a bookbinder for the past 36 years, said that applying egg whites to the covers helps the leather cover of the books to last longer.
via The day in photos: July 22, 2014.

The Illustrated London News, c. 1842.

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Printer and newsagent Herbert Ingram moved from Nottingham to London in early 1842. Inspired by how the Weekly Chronicle always sold more copies when it featured an illustration, he had the idea of publishing a weekly newspaper that would contain pictures in every edition.
Ingram’s initial idea was that it would concentrate on crime reporting, as per the later Illustrated Police News, but his collaborator, engraver Henry Vizetelly, convinced him that a newspaper covering more general news would enjoy greater success.
Ingram rented an office, recruited artists and reporters, and employed as his editor Frederick William Naylor Bayley (1808–1853), formerly editor of the National Omnibus.
The first issue of the The Illustrated London News appeared on Saturday 14 May 1842.
Its 16 pages and 32 wood engravings covered topics such as the war in Afghanistan, a train crash in France, a survey of the candidates for the United States presidential election, extensive crime reports, an account of a fancy dress ball at Buckingham Palace, theatre and book reviews, and a list of births, marriages and deaths.
The newspaper also carried three pages of advertisements for items such as a taxidermy manual, Madame Bernard’s treatment for baldness, and Smith’s quinine tonic. Ingram hired 200 men to carry placards through the streets of London promoting the first edition of his new newspaper.
Costing sixpence, the first edition sold 26,000 copies. Despite this initial success, sales of the second and subsequent editions were disappointing.
However, Herbert Ingram was determined to make his newspaper a success, and sent every clergyman in the country a copy of the edition which contained illustrations of the installation of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and by this means secured a great many new subscribers.
Its circulation soon increased to 40,000 and by the end of its first year was 60,000.
In 1851, after the newspaper published Joseph Paxton’s designs for the Crystal Palace before even Prince Albert had seen them, the circulation rose to 130,000.
In 1852, when it produced a special edition covering the funeral of the Duke of Wellington, sales increased to 150,000; and in 1855, mainly due to the newspaper reproducing some of Roger Fenton’s pioneering photographs of the Crimean War (and also due to the abolition of the Stamp Act which taxed newspapers), it sold 200,000 copies per week.
By 1863 The Illustrated London News was selling more than 300,000 copies every week, enormous figures in comparison to other British newspapers of the time.
Read more via The Illustrated London News – Wikipedia

Adelaide’s Weekend Newspaper “The Mail.”

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The Mail was founded in 1912 by Clarence Moody. Moody initially set up three newspapers – the Sporting Mail, Saturday Mail and the Mail. The first two titles lasted only two years and five years respectively.
The Mail went into liquidation in late 1914. Ownership passed briefly to George Annells and Frank Stone, and then to Herbert Syme.
In May 1923, News Limited purchased the Mail and moved the newspaper to North Terrace.
By this time the newspaper had developed a strong sporting focus. Results of weekend sporting matches of all types and grades were reported in the Mail.
A particular focus was given to football and horse racing, with many fine sporting photographs and articles being printed. West Torrens footballer and yachtsman Ossie O’Grady became sports writer in 1926 and wrote sometimes controversial sporting feature articles.
In the 1930s Ron Boland began his newspaper career as the horse racing writer, ‘Trafalgar’.
He was later to become editor of the News. Early motoring was another important feature of the newspaper from the 1920s, as was the advent of commercial radio and aviation.
From 1922 under the editorship of George Brickhill, the Mail was a well-presented newspaper with quality reading on a range of topics. No doubt the professionally presented real-estate pages helped fund the improvements.
The much-loved ‘Possum’s pages’ were born in 1921 as ‘the Mail Club’ with letters to ‘Clubmates’ written by ‘Possum’. The page was called ‘Mates own corner’. In 1924 May Gibbs’s gumnut babies, ‘Bib and Bub,’ were the first full-scale comic page in the Mail. They were joined in 1932 by Bancks’s Ginger Meggs.
During the Second World War Lionel Coventry’s ‘Alec the Airman’ joined the pages of the paper. Colour was introduced to the comics at the end of the war. Oswald Pryor was cartoonist for the Mail in 1922-1923, followed by Hal Gye and, in the late 1920s, R. W. Blundell. Harry Longson was cartoonist during the war years.
The Second World War had a major impact on many things, not least on newspaper reporting and production. Although horse racing and other sports were still covered in the pages of the Mail, space was also given to war news and the activities of the armed forces.
During the war the ‘Gossip by Deidre’ page gave way to the less frivolous ‘Diana’s notebook’ with photographs such as ‘Miss Patricia Hubbard at work in her father’s factory’ and other reflections of women’s war effort activities. Even the ‘Suburban acre’ gardening page took on a more serious tone as ‘Weeders digest’.
The paper’s name changed to the SA Sunday Mail on 6th February 1954, and then Sunday Mail in 1955. The original 1912 circulation of 15,000 had risen to 213,000 by 1962.
For its first 60 years the Mail was printed on Saturday nights. Initially two editions were published, with a ‘street’ edition coming out at about 7 pm, followed by a midnight edition which was sold to theatre crowds later in the evening, and distributed throughout the state on Sunday mornings.
The Sunday Mail was first published on a Sunday on 5th November 1972.
Inspired by Rob and Wendy Powell.
via Sunday Mail (Adelaide) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Printing in Medieval Venice c.1490s.

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Venice, from the Nuremberg Chronicle (1493). JRL R1786.

Medieval Venice was a major city state and an important trading port where East met West.

Situated on a marshy lagoon at the head of the Adriatic Sea, for centuries it had traded extensively with the Byzantine Empire and the Muslim World.

By the late thirteenth century, Venice was the most prosperous city in Europe, and with its powerful navy it dominated Mediterranean commerce.

Goods such as silk and spices, incense, opium and herbs were traded, imported from Africa and Asia and distributed throughout Europe by Venetian traders.

With their immense wealth Venice’s leading families vied with each other to build the grandest palaces and to patronize the most talented artists and craftsmen.

It was a city that embraced the new technology of printing with great enthusiasm.

The opportunity for profit offered by this wealthy trading city, rather than a reputation for scholarship and intellect, attracted printers such as Nicolas Jenson to Venice.

Aldus Manutius was the most successful Venetian printer in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries.

via First Impressions | Venice.

Melbourne printing museum goes under the hammer.

The biggest event to occur in a generation or more was the auction of the Melbourne Museum of Printing at the end of November.
While Australia has a great number of printing museums scattered around the country, there has only really been one that could lay claim to being a national printing museum: the Melbourne Museum of Printing. This museum was the collection personally created by Michael Isaacson in the hope that there would be a significant and lasting collection of our printing history available.
I had first met Isaacson when I visited his warehouse in the early Eighties. Someone once commented to me that he was an omnivorous collector—a hoarder, even—who, through his all-encompassing collecting, had prevented others from getting equipment, especially individuals who wanted to set up letterpress printeries.
Quite the opposite, I believe. For Isaacsen originally set himself up as a vendor of letterpress machinery and equipment.
From what I have been told—I was never close or in touch with Isaacsen though I visited and was given the Grand Tour on several occasions—his family owned a property in the country outside of Melbourne.
He discovered the Adana when young and his interest over the years developed into what eventually became the Melbourne Museum of Printing.
This was at a time when people couldn’t get rid of printing machinery and equipment fast enough. Often it was sold for scrap if only to prevent someone from setting up in competition knocking out business cards and letterheads. I remember well one printery which started off as a private press and which had smashed up their Albion for scrap, keeping only the base to use as a stone.
This was the general climate at the time. The dissolution of the New South Wales Government Printing Office in 1989 was part of a wave of closures of these massive and historic printeries throughout Australia and New Zealand.
Another fire sale of Australian printing history. Such printeries had histories which went back to the early years of the colonies to before we became Australia and often contained historic machinery and equipment going back to these early times.
I believe that Isaacsen’s massive and historically important collection of Monotype mats were from the collection of the New South Wales Government Printer. And, no doubt, much else of what was in the collection came from similar sources.
Source: Association of European Printing Museums ~ Australian national printing museum goes under the hammer

W. Bullock was killed by his invention the Web Rotary Press, 1867.

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On 3rd April, 1867, William Bullock, an American inventor – whose 1863 invention of the web rotary printing press helped revolutionize the newspaper printing industry due to its great speed and efficiency – was making adjustments to one of his new presses.
Bullock tried to kick an unguarded drive belt onto a pulley.
However, his leg was crushed when it became caught in the machine.
After a few days, Bullock developed gangrene in his leg.
On 12th April, 1867, Bullock the Inventor died in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania during an operation to amputate his gangrenous leg.
He joined a select company of individuals who have been killed by their own inventions.
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Very Heavy Journalism, Old School–a Gift from H. Mencken

Here’s another lesson in the continuing and forever-expanding series on not judging by appearances: the following terrific images were found in a very tall and slender, stiff and demure 1920’s publication celebrating the Thomson Printing Works of London (and Glasgow, Dundee, and Manchester).
The calf-bound book has the feel of an antique wallet, and even though the binding is sumptuous the cover is imprinted “A memento of a visit to the Thomson Printing Works, Dundee, Glasgow, Manchester”, which made it a rather expensive give-away–if that is so it was probably given only to the special few and not to the great unwashed. (My copy belonged to H.L. Mencken, who kept it until 1935 when he gave it away).
Anyway Thomson was a busy printing house/publisher, sending out millions of pieces, and the illustrations in the publication gives the reader an idea of the heavy hardware that went into the process. It is all very impressive. Also the photos of the human aspect of the firm–the crowded work and editorial and etc. rooms–well, it gives you an idea of the closeness and noise of the place as it might have been on a late summer afternoon in 1928.
[And by the way, I just checked WorldCat for this title and there’s only one copy listed–National Library of Scotland–which means the thing is pretty rare, and which also means that these terrific photos have probably not been shared very much at all…
I wonder how much just the metal type weighed in the composing room?
Source: JF Ptak Science Books: Very Heavy Journalism, Old School–a Gift from H.L. Mencken

The Birth of the Christmas Card, 1843.

Cultures have enjoyed sharing written New Year’s greetings for centuries. The English-speaking ritual of sending holiday cards, however, dates back only to the middle of the 19th century.
Some sources say it originated with Thomas Shorrock, of Leith, Scotland, who, in the 1840s, produced cards showing a jolly face with the caption “A Gude Year to Ye.” a Guid New Year
Credit more commonly goes to Sir Henry Cole, who would later become the first director of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.
He commissioned an artist to create 1,000 engraved holiday cards in 1843. Cole’s greeting featured a prosperous-looking family toasting the holidays, flanked on both sides by images of kindly souls engaging in acts of charity.
A caption along the bottom read, “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You.”

The world’s first commercially produced Christmas card, designed by John Callcott Horsley for Henry Cole in 1843
With advances in printing technology and mail service, the practice of sending commercially produced Christmas cards caught on.
By the 1880s, it was an integral part of the holiday season for many American families as well. In “The Female World of Cards and Holidays: Women, Families, and the Work of Kinship,” Yale anthropologist Micaela di Leonardo explains that the practice thrived amid postbellum industrialization and the demise of the family farm.
As relatives spread out geographically, women assumed responsibility for “the work of kinship” and became caretakers of extended family connections. Christmas cards were a convenient way for them to nurture relationships among their husbands, children, and distant relatives.
As the Christmas card habit took hold, manufacturers rushed to meet demand. Best known was German emigrant Louis Prang, who produced attractive and reasonably priced chromolithographed cards for the mass market. He is often referred to as the father of the American Christmas card.
Not all manufacturers were as concerned with quality. Many of them relied on trite and overly sentimental images to decorate their greetings.
In 1885, The Decorator and Furnisher magazine criticized the industry for its ubiquitous imaginings of “pantaletted young ones” singing in snowstorms and “angels floating in mid-air bearing a baby.
 Such tiresome subjects, the article lamented, created “no agreeable sensations.” Also troublesome were the poor production values.
That same year, The Art Amateur magazine faulted a British manufacturer for offering a card that featured the image of a cherub whose head was “too intangibly connected with her body even for a disembodied spirit.”
Industry critics predicted that the American public would soon tire of Christmas cards. But then, in the early 1900s, improvements in image reproduction technology allowed the greeting-card market to surge to new heights.
In 1900, The British Medical Journal applauded a new series of Christmas cards with “platino-panel reproductions” that resembled photographic prints. The variety of subjects featured on the new cards also increased—sporting themes, landscapes, and patriotic drawings of men in regimental uniforms.
Read on via A Brief History of the Holiday Card | JSTOR Daily