On the same site as the film about Linotype [PrintingFilms.com] comes this showing the Monotype Corporation in its heyday. It describes the journey to Salfords,
near Redhill, then takes you in to the works, more a town than a factory. I love the scene of the brass band playing, the sense of order and calm attention to detail. [Scroll down to Newest Additions…]
I’ve just come across this wonderful and evocative film about the last night of hot metal typesetting at the New York Times, July 1978. Watching brought back many memories of when I was a sub-editor at the Financial Times, London, in the late 1980s. Hot metal was still very much in use [a decade later] and when it ceased I purchased equipment to set up my own private printing press, The Beeches Press. What is also interesting is that some 40 years later newspapers are still being printed and distributed in a physical format. For how much longer?
So writes Robert Hughes [The Fatal Shore, 1988, Pan Books, p.21].* This got me thinking about the foundry process since, without the metal there is no type, and without type nothing else is possible. I turned to my books and scanned those lovely, ‘sanitised’ early prints of printing workshops.
They look so orderly, so clean, so hygienic. Then I turn again to Joseph Moxon and his Mechanick Exercises… [Dover Publications, NY, 1978, edited by Davis, H & Carter, H] which has sections Of setting up the Furnace and Of making Metal [pp162-167].
Moxon describes in elaborate detail how the foundry is made and the type of ingredients used: ‘…for every three Pound of Iron, about five and twenty pounds of Lead‘. Moxon concludes: ‘Now (according to Custom) is Half a Pint of Sack mingled with Sallad Oil, provided for each Workman to Drink; intended for an Antidote against the Poisonous Fumes of the Antimony, and to restore the Spirits that so Violent a Fire and Hard Labour have exhausted’. There you are.
It was an ugly job, and may well explain why those cadavers are inserted in the 1499 image of a printers office.
But there is no source given by Hughes to this statement. Does anyone know where he may have gleaned this information?
These pages come from the Printing Historical Society Bulletin (32), summer 1992. The photos are a fine record of a craft, I suspect, all but gone. [Credit for the photos goes to Elli Hadjiloizi and Nick Howells.) If you like this you’ll love this previous post.