Working with Wooden Type “Pass the Watering Can.”

During my apprenticeship (1950 to 1955) most comp apprentices had to spend some time in the railways poster area which was behind the canteen on the Jobbing floor in King William Road. Also, there were racks of standing formes in double demy chases.
In setting the type for the posters a wooden poster setting stick was used which catered for the larger wooden type and the longer lines. Good fun when you’re trying to come to grips with hand setting 6 to 12 point type, Intertype and monotype.
I can remember one particularly hot summer when some of the standing chases full of wooden type pied because of the heat shrinking the wooden type, wood furniture, etc. No air conditioning in those days. If you wanted air conditioning it was a matter of opening the hopper windows in the middle of the building.
To overcome the problem of the formes falling apart the idea was to lift the formes onto the stone and if they did not pie during the lift, undo the brass quoins slightly and apply water to the type and furniture.
The normal method was to apply a little water with a sponge in a similar fashion when handling a galley of monotype. Sponge fights were common with apprentices on a hot day.
A rather novel idea was to use a watering can and then mop up the excess water. After the exercise, the forme was locked up and put back in the rack. It was the apprentice’s job to then mop up all of the water on the surface of the stone, dry it and then apply a coat of oil to prevent rust.
It was amazing how rust would appear after the event on some occasions.
Incidentally what happened to the wooden type prior to the fire sale at Netley?
I can remember cases of wooden type, some of it unused, stored in cabinets in the comp room.
When the cases of wooden type came up for auction at the fire sale the auctioneer pulled out a case and guess what; it was empty; as were all of the others.
Don (The Flash) Woolman

The Ludlow Typograph.

imagesThe Ludlow Typograph debuted at the very start of the 20th century, intended by its inventor, William Ludlow, to be an economical version of the Linotype.
The Linotype had been around for decades by that point, and it had revolutionised the setting of type, which previously needed to be hand-done by swift, skilled typographers.
While the Linotype was certainly not an easy machine to operate and maintain, its keyboard operation and its ability to cast reusable slugs (instead of precious, easy damaged foundry type) made it a huge game changer.
It was the disruptive technology of its day, instilling fear amongst hand compositors, and allowing book publishers and newspapers to distribute their products more quickly and less expensively.
Still, the Linotype was a huge investment with a big footprint, and smaller print shops (“job shops”) were not necessarily able to afford one.
Besides the cost, though, the Linotype was not necessarily a great tool for decorative headlines; its strong suit was in setting large passages of body text.
The Ludlow Typograph, on the other hand, could cast beautiful, decorative headlines at up to 240 points.
It quickly became the must-have tool for setting headlines, and even ended up besting its competition in the long run, the Merganthaler All-Purpose Linotype.
via Three Steps Ahead.

Printing Machinist’s Roller Gauge.

Roller Gauge
This is a metal tool that vaguely resembles a lollipop. One end has a metal cylinder which has a diameter of .918″ (type high), connected to a long handle.
When slid along the bed of the press under inked rollers, a the width of stripe of ink left on the cylinder will signify the height of the rollers.
Proper roller height will leave a mark approximately 1/16″ wide (~2mm, or the width of a nickel).
No mark or a hairline mark shows that your rollers are too high.
A wide mark shows that rollers are too low.
When checking height, each roller should be checked on both sides of the press bed.
Damaged rollers will produce skewed results.roller gauges.
Story and Image Credit: Kyle Van Horn.
Source: General Tools and Supplies – Letterpress Commons

“The People’s Weekly” published in Moonta for 80 years.


Photo: State Library of South Australia.
The People’s weekly served the largest of the Yorke Peninsula towns, Moonta, for almost 80 years.
Although, like the other Yorke Peninsula newspapers, it included some coverage for the surrounding towns, the Weekly concentrated mostly on the activities and interests of the people of Moonta.
In 1891 the newspaper claimed to have the largest circulation on the Peninsula, with 1,000 subscribers in Moonta alone, as well as in the other towns. From late 1943 the newspaper’s coverage changed to include more Kadina news.
Throughout its life, the newspaper reflected the importance of the local copper mining industry which was the reason for the existence of Moonta and the other copper towns.
Detailed mining reports were regularly printed in the newspaper up until the last small private mining operations ceased in 1938. A series of interesting letters in 1895 by ‘Inquisitive’ described the working of the mining contract system.
In 1891 major industrial action took place, with a miners’ strike which lasted for 18 weeks.
This was widely reported, gaining the support of workers, newspapers and church groups across the state.
The Weekly was not convinced of the strike action being the best choice (26 September 1891), but nevertheless gave its support to the men.

Linotype: The Final Chapter.

Frank Romano got the idea for his book 50 years ago when he began working in the mailroom of the Mergenthaler Linotype Co.
When the company was changing headquarters, he was assigned to pack up the executive suite for the move.
“Well, I saved the materials and carried it from home to home and office to office,” said Romano. Some time back, he began assembling and studying his collected materials and the result is a new book on the history of one of the landmark typesetting and printing industries.
It’s the latest volume by the RIT professor emeritus and renowned authority on graphic communications, printing and publishing—author of 50 books.
His new book, History of the Linotype Company, published by RIT Press, chronicles a business that lasted 127 years—from 1886 to 2013.
With Ottmar Mergenthaler’s invention of the Linotype machine, the company became the world’s leading manufacturers of books and newspaper typesetting equipment in North America.
Romano’s research details the products, the people, and the corporate activities that kept the company ahead of its competition in hot metal, phototypesetting and pre-press technology.
Over 10 corporate entities eventually formed the U.S. manufacturer, which ended its corporate life as a division of a German press maker.
Adding depth to the historical account, Romano saved every press release and photographs from industry companies when he owned a magazine called TypeWorld.
“And through Doug Wilson, who made a documentary about the Linotype, I was able to acquire some very rare material from Ottmar Mergenthaler’s daughter and granddaughter,” explained Romano.
According to Romano, nearly 3,000 hot-metal fonts were manufactured by Mergenthaler Linotype from 1886 to 1972.
The final chapter of the book contains two comprehensive lists featuring the artwork for every font that Lintoype donated to the Smithsonian in 1998—now housed in the Museum of Printing in North Andover, Mass.
“It’s not easy to encapsulate the heart and soul of an organization, but I tried,” said Romano. “After 127 years, the last resting place of the Linotype Company is in this book.”
Read on via The last chapter for the ‘History of the Linotype Company’ – WhatTheyThink.

The Type High Gauge.

Type High Gauge
This tool measures the height of a piece of type or a forme and came in a variety of styles.
The most common is a forked tool into which the type is placed. A set of marks scored into the gauge note type high.
Like the roller gauge, this tool is very useful when troubleshooting problems on press and will help eliminate problem issues.
Image Credit: Photograph by Kyle Van Horn
Source: General Tools and Supplies – Letterpress Commons