Print in Medieval Paris.


Situated on the River Seine in northern France, late medieval Paris was a great university city and offered printers the opportunity to sell their books to teachers and scholars.
In 1436 the French King, Charles VII, reclaimed the city from its occupiers,the Burgundians who were allied to the English, making Paris the capital of France again.
There was a ready market for Printers in producing legal texts and courtly books such as romances.
Paris was already one of France’s major cathedral towns and famous as a centre of scholarship and manuscript production.
The Sorbonne was founded in 1257, one of seventy colleges listed as part of the university in the Middle Ages.
At the end of the medieval period, the university had become the largest cultural and scientific centre in Europe, attracting about 20,000 students.
Its reputation grew from the prestige of its university masters and the wealth of its libraries, which were equal to that of the pontifical library in Rome.
Read on via First Impressions | Paris.

John Baskerville, Type Designer.

Born 1706–Died 1775, English type designer and printer.
He and Caslon were the two great type designers of the 18th century in England.
He began his work as printer and publisher in 1757 and in 1758 became printer to the University of Cambridge.
Baskerville’s first volume was a quarto edition of Vergil. His type faces introduced the modern, pseudoclassical style, with level serifs and with emphasis on the contrast of light and heavy lines.
This style influenced designers in France and that of Bodoni in Italy.
Books printed by Baskerville are typically large, with wide margins, made with excellent paper and ink. His masterpiece was a folio Bible, published in 1763.
After his death his wife operated the press until 1777.
Then most of his types were purchased by Beaumarchais and were used in his 70-volume edition of Voltaire.
The matrices, long lost, were rediscovered and in 1953 were presented to Cambridge University Press.
Among Baskerville’s publications in the British Museum are Aesop’s Fables (1761), the Bible (1763), and the works of Horace (1770).

Who was at the Monotype Room’s Christmas Party, 1966?


The Monotype Operators and Casting Attendants pictured really loved having their old style Christmas Piss-Ups at King William Road.
Sitting (L to R): Bill Wallace, Burk Stone, Bert Tinkler, John Bryant.
Standing (L to R): Ralph Hannant, Kevin McBride, Peter Reeve, Ted Burkett, Graham Braybrook, Alex Crawford, Neil Cross, Cecil Dodd, Hector Korsten.
Hidden: David Copley (drummer but always working overtime).
But one person on the day, and that’s a young John ‘Mooster’ Bryant looks very sour and unhappy.
If you look closely at the back wall there is a poster hanging there that you would not see today.
A big thank you to Steve Palmer for putting names to the faces and to Dave Copley for suggesting an accurate year change.
Photo Courtesy of the Korff Family.

The Neotype, a Soviet copy of the Linotype.

If Neotype is what I think (a Soviet copy of Linotype / Intertype), then it’s still pretty popular in former Eastern Bloc countries.
The Book Art Museum in Poland has one (model N114 if I remember correctly) and an operating manual as well.
They were made in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg).
Peter the Great, who established the city, originally named it Sankt-Peterburg.
On 1 September 1914, after the outbreak of World War I, the Imperial government renamed the city Petrograd meaning “Peter’s city”, in order to expunge the German words Sankt and Burg.
On 26 January 1924, shortly after the death of Vladimir Lenin, it was renamed to Leningrad meaning “Lenin’s City”.
On 6 September 1991, the original name, Sankt-Peterburg, was returned.
Today, in English the city is known as “Saint Petersburg”.
The factory also made lead and rule casters and headliners, and possibly type casters for old-school founders’ mats.
There was even some work to copy the Monotype system, but the precision required to make the casting machine/mould was so high that the Russians couldn’t do it.
Rumour has it that they managed to make a keyboard (typesetting machine), but I’ve yet to know the details.

Source: Jim King R.I.P. – Photo Memorial – Help Needed

The Nebitype, the Typesetter from Hell.

1967t01The Year was 1968. I was completing my composing apprenticeship with the Griffin Press, Marion Road, Netley.
My foreman was Alf Freeman, a bald Englishman who had come from England to originally work at the Government Printing Office.
Alf had left after a couple of years for the Griffin.
There I met Nick Penn, Colin Rawlings, Rod Baker, Ted Powell, Ken Simpson, Doug Long and Norm Morcombe all who went on to work at the Old Guv from the 1970s onwards.
However, the point of this tale is to get you to look at the above typecasting machine, the Nebitype.
It was made by the Nebiolo Company of Italy. The Nebitype was a line casting typesetter that spewed a single lead printing slug around 40 picas in length.
It was vaguely similar to the Ludlow Typesetter.
But there the similarity ended, unlike the Nebitype the Ludlow was a very reliable American typesetting machine.
But there was a problem with the Nebitype during its casting cycle and I suspected there was something up when the tradesmen refused to work it.
It was left up to the apprentices, especially the new ones, like me!
The Nebitype had a mind of its own and would often spray molten lead into the air.
Luckily, there was a comp. called Ken Costello (a ballroom dancing champion) who showed me the Nebitype survival plan.
You would place the setting stick in the jaws of the machine and then everyone would scatter.
Ken Costello had a rope tied to the casting handle and the other apprentices would hide behind a typesetting frame for safety.

Meanwhile, Ken would wave a red warning flag to keep people away.
Before hiding you tugged the rope, uttered a short prayer and the machine would shudder into action.
Did it work properly this time? Was the floor covered with molten lead?
It certainly made life interesting in the Griffin Press comp. room.

The Printer’s Point System.

fotoflexer_photo5We use the term ‘point’ today without worrying just how big it is. We all know that a point is roughly 1/72nd of an inch, but at the turn of the century the point was anything but standard.
I look here at just how big a point is and how we arrived at this figure.
When typefounders were small and spread over the United Kingdom it was natural that printers would use a local foundry.
Founders used their own names — and not point sizes — to describe how big their type was. Names like Brevier (c. 8pt), English (c. 14pt) or Great Primer (c. 18pt) were used but the sizes were not standardised between founders.
You might buy 40lbs of Brevier type from Miller and Richards in Edinburgh and find that it would not be the same size as Brevier type from Stephenson, Blake in Sheffield.
While printers used local founders this did not matter too much, but at the turn of the century when printers wanted to use American types or continental types difficulties arose.
At the same time the Metric system was taking hold in continental Europe: British founders had to do something.
The British Printer from 1901 ran a series of articles covering the discussion; and it gives a good insight in to the attitudes of the different foundries. The question was simple: why do British founders not standardise on the American Point?
The American Point had come in to being because the Mackellar, Smiths and Jordan foundry in the United States had joined the American Typefounders Company and they had the largest stock of type and matrices.
Their point was adopted by the whole group and was embodied by a piece of steel with a flat, overhanging strip bolted to the top and bottom. This piece of steel was 288pt at 62° and the gap between the two overhangs meant that the base piece would not wear.
The size of one point was defined as 0.01387″ or 0.035146cm.
The manager, Mr. Benton, made the remark that the British Standard Point (remember that type was sold by name and not point size) at 1/72nd of an inch was so close to the American Standard that a little accumulation of dirt would bring the two sizes together.
The feeling of the British Printer was that we should all use the American point. This would mean type, materials and other printers’ requisites could all be used interchangeably: no doubt that this would be good for the printer in the long-run.
The British Printer canvassed opinion from the UK founders, and their responses illustrate the perspectives of those firms –
Messrs. V & J Figgins said: ‘…in our opinion there is no prospect of the printers adopting any point system whatever, and those doing so will only add to their difficulties.’ The BP commented only that this quote served a purpose by ‘…shewing the attitude of the foundry’.
Stephenson, Blake said that they were moving to the American Point system and would — for a time — be running both named sizes and the point system
H. W. Caslon were noted as a ‘progressive firm’, and said that adopting the system would be a ‘…great advantage’.
The general view was that most UK foundries had adopted a point system; and most used the American Point. Once all founders moved to the system, Caslon had said they would ‘…rejoice to know that a great reform has been accomplished.’