The “Hickey” in Print explained.

When teenagers, most of us knew a hickey was a bruise caused by hard sucking on skin, usually on the neck.
On Mondays, blokes and sheilas proudly displayed their ugly hickeys as indicators of intense passion and other things over the weekend.
It was a status symbol or a message saying “I dunnit” or “nearly dunnit”!
In printing, a hickey (also known as a bull’s eye or fish eye) is an ink spot or imperfection on a printed paper caused by dirt, hair, or ink scum.
When newspapers were “pasted up” by hand it was also common for extraneous strips of paper with text on them, or nothing on them, to get dropped onto what would become the printing plate—and their images would be printed.
I guess that’s a sort of a hickey too!
via Book Making: Don’t give your book a hickey.

Goodbye Brother, “The Clang Out.”

Hot Metal Comps. had a unique way of saying goodbye to a workmate who was retiring from the trade.
There was a hell of a lot of racket in the Comp Room when it happened!
The journeyman Comps. and their Apprentices would scatter everywhere grabbing small chases, metal galleys, quoin keys, furniture or anything remotely metal and line up around the work “stone” or “stones” and wait.
Wait for what, you may ask? Yes, it was for some poor old bastard who was retiring.
The noise was deafening as the blokes went ballistic by banging away with their chases and galleys at a furious rate.
 It was bloody wonderful fun and a fitting tribute to the comp for his years of slaving away with lead type and ink.
Gradually with the advent of new technology the clang-out slowly subsided.
There wasn’t much fun in trying to slap two paper bromides together.
It was a bloody sad time! The trade was changing as the new technology swept over us!

The term “The Printing Office” explained circa 1890’s.

In my experience the term “printing office” was quite a common term to describe a printing establishment, The Old Guv was known as the Government Printing Office and most of the other States of Australia used the same term, it was also used in the United Kingdom and United States.
The term “print shop” was generally used to describe a small to medium printing establishment. It appears the correct terminology was a bit of an issue back in the 1890s
The 1897 Brit­ish Printer art­icle, below, sets out their thoughts on ‘Print­ing Office’ from that time.
Refer­ring to the use of the term “office” as the name given to a printer’s estab­lish­ment, The Printer and Book­maker says:
“The dic­tion­ar­ies do not recog­nise any mean­ing of office which would jus­tify its use for a place where print­ing is car­ried on. Prop­erly, the busi­ness office of a print­ing office is the only part of the estab­lish­ment entitled to the word. The pro­pri­etor and the book-keeper or type­writ­ist are the only ones who are really jus­ti­fied in say­ing, ‘We are going down to the office now.’
The typos, press­men, et al., should say, ‘We are going down to the shop,’ if they wish to be exact. Cus­tom has sanc­tioned office, how­ever, and its use is prob­ably suf­fi­ciently fixed to last for cen­tur­ies. This being the case, it is time that the dic­tion­ar­ies recog­nised the mean­ing in which print­ers use the word, that the knights of the stick may be backed by lex­ico­graph­ical authority.”
via The Printing “Office” | British Letterpress.

The Slang used at Government Print.

language“wacka” A juicy rumour so important that an instant crowd of workers would gather on hearing the wacka alert whistle. No good ever came out of spreading a “wacka.”
“Like blowflies around a lump of shit” The Dago’s masterly description of a “wacka” crowd gathering and hovering around like eager to hear the latest gossip.
“Clicker” An archaic term used to describe a Leading Hand in the printing trade.
“The Long Weight” A joke played on an unsuspecting new apprentice who was sent off for a long weight. They would be left waiting for bloody ages, until the penny dropped. “Meggsy” Grunert fell for it ten times in a row.
“The Old Guv at KWR” Meaning the Old Government Printing Office in King William Road, Adelaide. It was knocked down by the Government in 1974. One hundred years of history down the drain for a bloody car park. A disgrace!
“The Netley Complex” The new Government Printing Office on Marion Road. Opened in 1974 through to the mid 1990s. Famous as the Home of the largest parquet dance floor in the Southern Hemisphere.
“Things will get better when we get to Monarto” Saying coined by Brian “Grubby” Hartshorne. Monarto was a bush area miles from Adelaide where half the population of Adelaide were to be relocated. It never happened.
“Artful Dodger” one of the young villans from Dickens “Oliver Twist,” also used by the “Flash” Woolman to describe a compulsive sickie taker, a work bludger and compo bludger.
“The Fish” Metal bar with a hook eye on the end, it was made of lead, tin and antimony and was fed by a chain into the Intertype typesetting machine’s casting pot. Apart from casting lines of type “The Fish’ were made into the most amazing range of fishing sinkers on the planet. This was illegal of course.
“The Minda Bus” a totally cruel term for anyone born in Adelaide and used to describe the Special Bus from the Adelaide Railway Station to Marion Road where the Old Guv day shift workers could be seen staggering and lurching their way down the steps of the bus.
“The Wayzgoose” Printers’ Picnic where the members of the Old Guv Chapel would travel to a picnic spot or hotel usually miles from Adelaide. Originally for men and boys the ladies and girls became part of the Wayzgoose program in the 1920s. Dinner, speeches, running races and novelty events were the order of the day.
“The Phantom Shitter” This man had the ability to block a loo with ONE continuous loop of poo. A long piece of printing wooden furniture was needed to break up the loop to enable it to be flushed away.
“The Rocket Room” Home of a monstrous vacuum driven delivery system which had a giant clear plastic rocket used to carry Hansard galley proofs across the ceilings of the Netley Complex. You could hear them rattling along a mile away just like the doodle bugs in the London blitz. Our older English comps scattered each time they heard one going over.
“The Log Cabin” A wooden add-on built between the comp room and machine room in the late 1970s. Generally populated with arse crawlers, “yes” men, bullshit artists and no hopers. It was where most of the Bosses were located.
“A Flash in the Pan” Infamous quote from the late 1960s by Brian “Jumbo” James, Govt. Printer and Frank Johnson, Printing Overseer and used by them to describe what they thought of the future of Offset Printing.
“Clang Out” When an old Comp retired his workmates would gather by their work stones and grab any metal object especially type galleys and small chases and proceed to belt the shit out of them creating an avalanche of noise to send our retiring comrade off in a respectful manner. With the advent of cold type technology the “clang outs” became a thing of the past.
“Follow copy out the window” Expression used to describe a comp setting exactly what’s in the copy even when he suspects it is incorrect. Playing it safe!
“Foreignee, buckey, foreign order” Job done done under the lap or under the counter using the company’s paper, ink and materials. Illegal of course, but endemic in the printing trade.
“It wouldn’t happen in Hot Metal” A painful and sad lament offered up by hot metal comps whenever the computer typesetter stuffed up. Eventually, this expression fell by the wayside as the new technology got better and more reliable

Rod Parham


“Just for Fun” Old Guv Nicknames.

2940869-popeyeHere are just a few that come to mind:

“The Toff, Planner 9 or Cruel Man” – Alex Riley (snob and JaguarOwner).
“Sputnik” – Edgar Andrews (would only see him once every hour).
“Ankles” – Ron Fletcher (Boss who was three feet lower than a ####).
“The Flash” – Don Woolman (Grubby Hartshorne claims Woolly was the best Government Printer).
“The Bull” – Les Hawes (Grubby Hartshorne claims the Bull was the best Government Printer).
“Jumbo” – Brian James (GP but much better footballer).
“Grubby” – Brian Hartshorne (professional groveller but a lovely man).
“Handbag” – Malcolm Jones (Boss, who needed to be carried).
“Mirrors” – George Sparnon (Boss who was always looking into things).
“The Thief of Baghdad” – Tony Williams (had quick fingers and a slow brain).
“The Thief of Baghdad’s Dad” – Peter Williams (Tony’s Dad, but a very nice man).
“Concord” – Harry van Straalen (Boss who had a very long nose, of course).
“The Garden Gnome” – Rob Davies (small man, would look nice in the front Garden).
“Mushroom” – Don Conigrave (Boss who popped up everywhere).
“Wingnut” – Paul Raby (Ten pound Pom and nice man with big Ears).
“Dr. Cack” – Keith Stevenson, Government Printer (‘orrible man evidently from the old days).
“The Bishop” – Colin Haines (Priestlike and a Saintly fellow. A Perfect description).
“Yank” – Graham Hall (shocking bullshit artist who actually was a Yank).
“Crayfish” – Eric Miles (all arms and legs and a head full of shit).
“Turkey or The Gobbler”- Geoff Murray, Haircut like a chook.
“Fred Lipps” – Lew Morrison (Lew’s Secret Code Name and alter ego).
“Rags” – John Elsdon (as a shit boy bought sanitary napkins instead of headache pills).
“Abo” – Warren Pietsch, threw darts at the dart board as if they were spears.
“Stolen Biro” – Nick Penn (clever one, eh!)

Using the nicknames below could get you punched in the Nose:

“Popeye” – Frank Nelson.
“The Clown” – Cyril Barson.
“The Ape” – Charlie Ludlow.
“Dogs Breath, 1,2 and 3” – take your pick.

And there were heaps of others.

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derwombat (Rod Parham)