Categories
History of Lettering Monotype Composition caster printing Thoughts on lettering typography

In honour of a decade: number 5

Two years ago I posted about a film describing the Monotype works.

Monotype composition caster
Monotype composition caster

This photo is of the caster I owned in the 1990s, working from a workshop in Bromley, Kent, UK. I have written about my exploits here.

To finish off this tribute to hot metal follow this link to another video showing the machine in action and sounding wonderful.

Categories
History of Lettering printing Thoughts on lettering

Linotype: how it works

I was always a Monotype man. The Linotype never much interested me. Until now. Here is this link to a fascinating and informative historical video.

Categories
printing Thoughts on lettering

No hot metal on this Penguin

It’s 1957 and those at Penguin, namely Allen Lane, had a problem. The imprint was becoming so successful that print runs of some 50,000 were necessary to keep costs down and the paperbacks affordable. However, Allen Lane also wanted to publish original titles: and the market for these was often small, much smaller than the popular titles that kept the firm afloat (these were the post-war years, years of austerity). Think of the number of formes kept locked up in metal on the hunch a quick re-print might be required. Therefore, film-setting was investigated and Private Angelo became the first book (in England) to be printed entirely on film.

This is recorded in Penrose Annual vol.52 (1958). An article by L.S.F. Elsbury, manager, Fotosetter division, Intertype Ltd., Slough, Bucks, explains: ‘The book chosen was Eric Linklater’s Private Angelo. Sir Allen Lane decided at once to print, apart from the trade edition, a special edition of 2000 copies as a Christmas gift from him and his brother to friends in the trade. Designed by Hans Schmoller, a charming book has been produced. The text is printed on bible paper, the volume is bound in Linson vellum printed in two colours with the spine lettered in gold, and there are special end-papers by David Gentleman.’

Mr Elsbury concludes in [restrained and English-like] rapture: ‘This, then, is a step forward in a new adventure…It may give a new standard of quality to the graphic arts and, if it should be widely used, the combination of filmsetting and offset reproduction could become one of the means to help the industry keep pace with the progress of our times.’

Anyone have a copy of the original limited edition?

[Also referenced: Fifty Penguin Years, Penguin Books, 1985.]

 

Categories
Elements of Lettering lettering lettering, typography, alphabets, stonework printing Typographic ephemera

Something Rampant for the weekend

Looking through my collection of typography today I came across these images, included in Portfolio Three by The Rampant Lions Press, Cambridge, England, dated 1982. I have written about Will and Sebastian Carter many times throughout the life of this blog so please hit the search key to find out more, or send me an email. Enjoy your weekend. (This was a regular feature of the blog – the last entry can be found here.)

Franklin typeface
Franklin typeface
Rampant Lions Press prospectus
Rampant Lions Press prospectus

 

Categories
Brand design Elements of Lettering lettering printing typography

Ashley Havinden, Ashley Crawford and Neuland

A reader recently identified the typeface I commented upon in this post as being Ashley Crawford, and not Neuland as I had then speculated. Thank you Marvin.

The face was designed by Ashley Havinden, Ashley Havindena noted designer of that period and produced by Monotype as Series 238 and 279 (the later for the plain font). Image from Encyclopaedia of Typefaces, Ashley Havinden_0001Blandford Press, 1953 as in my copy of Specimens of the Type Faces, Borders, Ornaments, Rules and Other Material cast on ‘Monotype’ Type Composing and Casting Machines, The Monotype Corporation, n.d it is not included, although ‘single specimen sheets…may be obtained on application’.

This is another of his works for the London store Simpson, taken from Modern Publicity 1942-48, The Studio Publications.Ashley Havinden_0004

To correct the earlier misinterpretation here is Neuland used in another ad (taken from The Typography of Newspaper Advertisements, Meynell, F, 1929).

Ashley Havinden_0002Ashley Havinden_0003

Categories
lettering printing

Even more letterpress in Australia

Following my recent visit to Dorrigo (see here) and the last Australian newspaper still printed letterpress I have another discovery, and this time it is even closer to where I live, on the border between NSW and Queensland, Australia.

A news item in my local paper mentioned the Olive and Volcano press. The team of Jo and Andy print and publish a wide collection of letterpress. If you are in this part of the world do check them out.

2chokus

Categories
History of Lettering printing printing presses

Wharfedale cylinder press: a note

The development of cylinder presses was largely driven by the growth in circulation of newspapers during the early nineteenth century, and primarily The Times of London. The cylinder machine itself was the brainchild of German printer Friedrich Koenig, who patented the first model in 1811. (See here for a previous post about Koenig.)

James Moran in his Printing Presses (Faber & Faber, London, 1973) notes that during the late 1820s this newspaper installed a machine designed by Augstus Applegath that could print at a rate of 4,200 impressions per hour. This machine, a four-feeder, was steam driven, 18ft high by 14ft long, with type travelling ‘to and fro almost the whole length of the machine below four impression cylinders grouped together, and the form was inked on each journey by four sets of composition rollers’ (ibid, 1973, p.129). Whafedale from James Moran[Note: the first steam-driven Koenig press was installed at The Times, in secret, in 1814, printing the first issue for the November 29th edition. It is worth noting how secrecy was employed to prevent a walk-out by the pressroom, much in the same way that Murdoch moved the print operations of The Times and its associated News Corp papers to Docklands in 1986-1987.]

My recent visit to Dorrigo, northern NSW, Australia, revealed a wreck of a Wharfedale, another cylinder press, though one more modest than the Applegath model. The photo here (including a rare shot of the author) was taken outside the town’s museum where the remains of the once glorious machine now sit rusting. Wharfedale press in Dorrigo

Moran notes that the predecessor of this type of press was built in the mid-1850s, with the Wharfedale  being developed by Samuel Bremmer, a North Country of England journeyman according to Mason who rose to become printing manager at a London firm, and William Dawson, a joiner and cabinet maker of Otley, Yorkshire, England in the valley of the river Wharfe – hence the name. Look closely at the side panel of the press in Dorrigo and that’s exactly what you still see proudly displayed in raised letters.wharfedale detail

Moran writes: ‘[The Wharfedale] Basically…consisted of an impression cylinder mounted on parallel side frames, a bed which, with the ink slab, moved to and fro, carrying the cylinder in gear one revolution, when travelling outwards, and leaving the cylinder stationary on returning, in order to admit the sheet being laid into the grippers for the next impression’ (ibid, 1973, p.135). Over time the principle was taken up by a number of other manufacturers, hence the name Wharfedale became generic.wharfedale top view

This skeleton drawing is from Modern Printing, a handbook (vol 2, 1913, p.55). Whafedale Elliott & Co

To see one at work follow this YouTube link to the wonderful site of the National Print Museum, Ireland. One interesting point to note – the paper sheets were fed by women employees after make-ready had been completed, by a man.

 

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

Categories
lettering printing

Three cheers for the Don Dorrigo Gazette – three cheers for Michael and Jade

How long will commercial letterpress continue? Until it becomes too expensive to source spare parts or ink or, more likely, until the craft skills are no longer passed from generation to generation.

PART ONE: In the small township of Dorrigo (pop. 1100) high in the mountains of northern NSW commercial letterpress is, at present, alive and well. The Don Dorrigo Gazette is the last Australian newspaper (the Don Dorrigo Gazette and Guy Fawkes Advocate to give the full title) printed letterpress, and printed letterpress not as a hobby but as a business enterprise. DDG office outside

Now in its 104th year the newspaper is valued by the community it serves, for it acts as the heart of the community, a true community newspaper in every sense. One of the house-ads states: ‘Your Printer Is Part Of Your Community’. So much part of this community that 800 copies are printed each week, the eight-page edition hand-folded before being distributed both locally and afar and sold for a dollar; so much so that the rival newspaper of the big town of Bellingen (pop 2600) down the mountain is mostly shunned by the Dorrigo folk.

I first wrote about the Don Dorrigo Gazette two years ago (click here) and it has taken me that long to make the journey – about five hours from where we live in far north NSW, down the Pacific Highway, through the seaside town of Coffs Harbour before turning inland. So when we were serching around for a week’s break and my wife mentioned Dorrigo (there are wonderful rainforest walks and waterfalls to see) I didn’t hesitate.

DDG MichaelI didn’t know what I would find, though I think in my mind I had expectations of a much larger building, perhaps with a frontage that serves as reception and ‘newsroom’. After all, in my earlier years working as a journalist all the local newspapers I worked on in England had some sort of entrance, be it modest or grand. Not so the Don Dorrigo Gazette. (Though reading through the centenary issue of the paper, published on 20 January 2010 I find that until the late 1980s there was indeed a frontage, the ‘factory’ being built on in the late 1970s.)

We had arranged to meet Michael English (left), owner, editor, advertising manager, typesetter, printer and jack-of-all-trades, on Tuesday. He told my wife on the phone that he would be in early, around 5am, to finish off that week’s edition. The night before I scanned through the previous week’s edition: the front page ‘splash’ being Ancient History Display Comes To Dorrigo while Museum Musings on the back page (page 8, single page size 29cm x 44cm) contained the information that: ‘Our museum houses the complete set of the Don Dorrigo Gazette from 1910 to the present as well as the old Wharfedale letterpress printing press used to print the newspaper until it was replaced with the current Heidelberg cylinder press’. DDG heidelberg

TO BE CONTINUED …

 

Categories
lettering Monotype Composition caster printing

Something ornamental for the weekend

From December 1958, a Monotype broadsheet (440mm x 570mm). Composed on a caster no doubt. (For more on ornamental type see this post.) For more Monotype posters see here.

Ornamental type face