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Newspapers Thoughts on lettering

In honour of a decade: number 7

Nearly 10 years ago [December 2010], so not long after I commenced this blog, I wrote about the demise of the printed newspaper [see here]. I forecast that the print media did not have long to go, maybe 5 years [I was wrong], at the most 10. Here in Australia, the end of June 2020 saw a swathe of publications, most community-based, many with heritage spanning some 100 years, fall silent.

In my part of the world the print edition of the Tweed Daily News ended. Though the masthead proclaimed ‘daily’ to the bitter end, the paid-for print edition had been weekly [Saturday] for many years, with a free community weekly also hitting the front lawn on a Wednesday.

Tweed Daily News
Tweed Daily News

The end of print was longer coming than I first thought in 2010, but inevitable. I source my news mainly from the online edition of The Guardian where [still for free] I can read the latest from the UK, US and anywhere in the world, and access informed comment [if often not impartial].

Do I miss print? Hell yes – I was brought up on it, the smell and the sound of it, and for many years ran my own letterpress print workshop. But reflect more on the content of journalism today, than the production. Fewer news outlets, and the concentration of those in the hands of managements pushing a bias [which news ownership has ever been] can/does lead to misleading and inflammatory editorialising. Be mindful in the twists and turns of digital.

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Newspapers Thoughts on lettering

Isotype, Rotha and me: a reflection

There’s this slim book on the shelf in front of where I sit typing away on the MacBook Air. Distracted, I pull it out. It’s approximately A4 size and titled Future Books, vol III. There’s no date but from advertising at the rear and the selection of articles I’d make a guess at 1946. The title page/contents page states: Published by Collins / Produced by Adprint / Distributed by Leathley Publications. Editor: Marjorie Bruce Milne.

I scan the contents. One takes my interest – From Hieroglyphics to Isotypes. 20_06_09_IsotypeTurning to the article I notice at the bottom the name PAUL ROTHA as author. Wow! I know that name. [Even if I don’t the inventor of Isotype, Dr Otto Neurath.] Why?20_06_09_Rotha

My career as a journalist [more exactly reporter] starts in January 1978 at a local newspaper [more exactly a community free sheet] based in Marlow, Bucks, UK. I am 21. I have no recollection of how this event unfolds, expect being present when Paul and his wife were evicted and somehow getting them into my car [more exactly my editor’s, I think a Ford Escort, yellow], then driving through country lanes pursued [I think] by what was then called collectively as Fleet Street.

Paul Rotha left this place in 1984. ‘He was a major pioneer figure in the British documentary film movement.’ Though I never knew that in 1978.

20_06_09_Rotha more

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History of Lettering Newspapers printing presses Typographic ephemera

In honour of a decade: number 2

It was back in late 2014 that I finally arrived in Dorrigo in NSW, Australia, and went to speak with the owner and printer of the last Australian newspaper printed letterpress – The Don Dorrigo Gazette and Guy Fawkes Advocate. 

Some five years later and the paper continues under the remarkable stewardship of Michael English and his wife Jade.

I still receive the paper weekly by mail. Read their story here. DDG Michael

Note: there are three parts to the post: click on part two and part three.

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History of Lettering Newspapers

The last US newspaper printed letterpress

A good friend in the UK suggested this link to a newspaper that is still printed letterpress in the US.

Do have a look

http://www.greatbigstory.com/stories/true-to-type-running-the-oldest-newspaper-in-america

And note that Australia still has its own letterpress newspaper. See my blog here and search for the Don Dorrigo Gazette.

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Newspapers

The Gazette – part three

Part Three [if you missed part one click here and for part two here]

DDG IntertypeHistory of the Don Dorrigo Gazette taken from the centenary issue (Wednesday, January 20, 2010): DDG wood furniture

‘Founders of the Gazette Herb and Reg Vincent arrived in Dorrigo in 1909 and were thrilled at the country and surrounding district. They settled in the community…on January 8, 1910…the first copies of the Don Dorrigo Gazette were pulled off the old Columbian, a second-hand Double Royal “thoroughly overhauled and guaranteed in good order and condition” by FT Wimble and Co Ltd, Sydney…There have been several owners of the Gazette, starting with the Vincent Brothers sold to George Holland in 1938, Bill Beckhouse in the 1950s and John English in the late 1970s.’

DDG galley‘The original Columbian printing press was replaced by a Wharfedale hand-fed machine…This was replaced by a modern Heidelberg cylinder press still in use today…A new typesetting machine, the Intertype, was installed at a cost of £3,288 in 1953.’

‘The Wharfedale…was believed to be 114 years old before being replaced by the Heidelberg cylinder press in 1970.’

From the Don Dorrigo Gazette of Thursday, October 17, 1957:

‘The Dorrigo Gazette has installed a modern Autovic automatic printing press…[it] takes the place of a hand-fed platen which the Gazette has donated to the Dorrigo District School.’ [My note: Where is it now?]

Former editors: Reg Vincent; George Holland; Charlie Chappel; Jack Devine; ‘Flip’ Pomroy; Sel Rawson; Jim Ellis; Alan Smith; John English and [current] Michael English.

‘When John English started his apprenticeship in 1961 Alan Smith was foreman; later he took over as editor and when Alan left for a change working with the Bellingen Shire Council, John took over as editor…’

DDG front page

 

Categories
History of Lettering Newspapers printing typography

The Gazette – Part Two

PART TWO: [If you missed Part One click here]

We arrived about 10am to find Michael and his partner Jade and their 19 month old son James waiting outside on a grass strip that separates the building housing the newspaper from a garage next door. Their car was full of that week’s edition waiting to be distributed. The business fronting Hickory Street is now occupied by a Trust promoting an endeavour to set up a new medical centre in town through money left by a past resident – the entrance to the newspaper is along the side and leads directly into the factory or ‘print room’. DDG Michael and type

DDG mastheadFor me walking into this building was like going back to the late 1980s and early 1990s when I ran my own letterpress workshop in Bromley, UK. It was not much bigger, about the size of a double garage, yet housed the Heidelberg cylinder, a Heidelberg platen, two Intertypes (one not working), and a composing bench, formes, a small proofing press and guillotine. In the middle of the room a pot belly stove for those cold winter mornings, though as Jade told me the heat from the Intertype’s lead pot was usually sufficient: it was the hot summer months that things became unpleasant inside, the tin roof focusing the sun’s heat even more.

There used to be several people who worked at the paper, assisting with the printing or typesetting but Michael does DDG formeeverything now, his father John having passed away. Everything that is apart from hand-setting the headlines which are done by Jade, who also folds the sheets each week. ‘I’m pretty quick at it,’ she says.

Though he is not a trained journalist Michael does a wonderful job, some of the copy being supplied or himself sourcing it from the internet (such as police reports). He has little time to service the machinery between editions and is having increasing difficulty, he told me, finding suitable supplies of newsprint and ink.

That’s when I realised just how devoted Michael and Jade are to keeping this enterprise continuing week in and week out – not just so that printing enthusiasts like myself can come and swoon over the machinery and raise hallelujahs that letterpress is still surviving. This is their livelihood. During our time the local estate agent dropped in to ask about next week’s ad, while Michael said that many of his regular advertisers know this paper is read from cover to cover each week, unlike its local competitior down the mountain.DDG ink

DDG JadeSo because it is their livelihood I ask that if any of this blog’s readers out there know of spare parts for the Heidelberg Cylinder or sources of ink or someone who can turn around recovering rollers quickly do make contact with Michael and Jade at the Don Dorrigo Gazette. Their email is: dgogazette@westnet.com.au

And think about taking out an annual subscription! At A$1 a week it’s the best investment you can make in letterpress.

To be Continued…DDG proof press