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Letterpress FAQ

This is the Letterpress FAQ (frequently asked questions) list, derived from questions and answers on the Letterpress mailing list (LETPRESS@hermes.csd.unb.ca -- see the question below on how to subscribe), as well as other sources. It strives to be a good source of Letterpress information.

This FAQ is maintained by David Macfarlane <dmac@impressed.com>, and I encourage you to email me with more questions, even more answers, and any words of criticism or encouragement that occur to you.

NB: this document contains many people's opinions. Neither myself, Green Dolphin Press, Carpe Libris, LLC, or anyone contributing to this FAQ are responsible for how you may choose to use this information. It may or may not be correct. We take no responsibility for the suitability for any purpose of the information found in this FAQ. Also, no copyright claims are made or implied by collecting and assembling this document from a variety of sources; if anyone objects to having their words excerpted in this document, please contact the compiler. Our only intent is to promulgate useful information.

  Last updated Fri Jan 3 10:00:32 2014

Table of Contents

1 Administrivia

2 Introduction to Letterpress 3 Presses 4 Press operation 5 Type 6 Composing 7 Materials 8 Measurement 9 Sources 10 Resources on the Web

1 Administrivia

1.1 What is this FAQ about?

It is about the art and craft of Letterpress printing, including the equipment we use, how to use it, what materials and supplies are necessary, and where to get it all.

[Back to Table of Contents]   [Back to Section 1 questions]


1.2 Who wrote it?

It was compiled by David Macfarlane <dmac@impressed.com> from material on the letterpress mailing list, as well as many other sources (noted where known). The specific contributors are listed within the individual questions. Please email me with any suggestions or concerns.
Please note that I'm naming the contributors (the people who wrote the messages to the Letterpress list) to give credit where credit is due. This does not imply any endorsement of any particular product, technique, or company by either the author of the text or the compiler of this list.

[Back to Table of Contents]   [Back to Section 1 questions]


1.3 How do I join the Letterpress mailing list (LETPRESS)?

To join the email list, send a message to listserv@listserv.unb.ca with the following line:

subscribe letpress your-first-name your-last-name

Alternately, you can go to this web page and fill out the appropriate parts of the web page form.

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1.4 How do I get off the Letterpress mailing list (LETPRESS)?

To get off the email list, send a message to listserv@listserv.unb.ca with the following line:

signoff letpress

Alternately, you can go to this web page and fill out the appropriate parts of the web page form.

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1.5 I'm confused: how does the LETPRESS list work?

To send a message to all the people currently subscribed to the list, just send mail to LETPRESS@LISTSERV.UNB.CA. This is called "sending mail to the list", because you send mail to a single address and LISTSERV makes copies for all the people who have subscribed. This address (LETPRESS@LISTSERV.UNB.CA) is also called the "list address". You must never try to send any command to that address, as it would be distributed to all the people who have subscribed. All commands must be sent to the "LISTSERV address", LISTSERV@LISTSERV.UNB.CA.
It is very important to understand the difference between the two, but fortunately it is not complicated. The LISTSERV address is like a FAX number that connects you to a machine, whereas the list address is like a normal voice line connecting you to a person. If you make a mistake and dial the FAX number when you wanted to talk to someone on the phone, you will quickly realize that you used the wrong number and call again. No harm will have been done. If on the other hand you accidentally make your FAX call someone's voice line, the person receiving the call will be inconvenienced, especially if your FAX then re-dials every 5 minutes. The fact that most people will eventually connect the FAX machine to the voice line to allow the FAX to go through and make the calls stop does not mean that you should continue to send FAXes to the voice number. People would just get mad at you.
It works pretty much the same way with mailing lists, with the difference that you are calling hundreds or thousands of people at the same time, and consequently you can expect a lot of people to get upset if you consistently send commands to the list address.

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1.6 What else can I do with the LETPRESS list?

You may leave the list at any time by sending a "SIGNOFF LETPRESS" command to LISTSERV@LISTSERV.UNB.CA. You can also tell LISTSERV how you want it to confirm the receipt of messages you send to the list. If you do not trust the system, send a "SET LETPRESS REPRO" command and LISTSERV will send you a copy of your own messages, so that you can see that the message was distributed and did not get damaged on the way. After a while you may find that this is getting annoying, especially if your mail program does not tell you that the message is from you when it informs you that new mail has arrived from LETPRESS. If you send a "SET LETPRESS ACK NOREPRO" command, LISTSERV will mail you a short acknowledgement instead, which will look different in your mailbox directory. With most mail programs you will know immediately that this is an acknowledgement you can read later. Finally, you can turn off acknowledgements completely with "SET LETPRESS NOACK NOREPRO".
Following instructions from the list owner, your subscription options have been set to "REPRO MIME" rather than the usual LISTSERV defaults. For more information about subscription options, send a "QUERY LETPRESS" command to LISTSERV@LISTSERV.UNB.CA.
Contributions sent to this list are automatically archived. You can get a list of the available archive files by sending an "INDEX LETPRESS" command to LISTSERV@LISTSERV.UNB.CA. You can then order these files with a "GET LETPRESS LOGxxxx" command, or using LISTSERV's database search facilities. Send an "INFO DATABASE" command for more information on the latter.
This list is available in digest form. If you wish to receive the digested version of the postings, just issue a SET LETPRESS DIGEST command.
Please note that it is presently possible for anybody to determine that you are signed up to the list through the use of the "REVIEW" command, which returns the e-mail address and name of all the subscribers. If you do not want your name to be visible, just issue a "SET LETPRESS CONCEAL" command.
More information on LISTSERV commands can be found in the LISTSERV reference card, which you can retrieve by sending an "INFO REFCARD" command to LISTSERV@LISTSERV.UNB.CA.


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1.7 Where are the LETPRESS list archives?

You can find them at http://listserv.unb.ca/archives/letpress.html.

You can browse through old postings, search for topics of interest, or use a special page to join the list, leave the list, or change your subscription settings. If you have difficulty sending email messages to the List Server to do this things, you may find it easier to fill out the web page form here.

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1.8 Is copyright really important?

[[This is a jest - there have been some heated conversations on the list about copyrights - check the archives if you're interested.]]
Some good references for copyright info (we should more clearly say "info on copyright") include http://dir.yahoo.com/Government/law/intellectual_property/copyrights/ .]]

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1.9 Who are the patron saints associated with book arts?

According to the Oxford Dictionary of Saints, both St. Augustine and St. John of God (founder of the Brothers Hospitallers) are considered patrons of printers; the latter is also patron of booksellers (and hospitals). St. John the Apostle, btw, is the patron of publishers.
Reed C Bowman <rcbowman@GLOBAL.CALIFORNIA.COM>
St. Sebastion is the patron Saint of bookbinders
"Joe K. Smith" <JKS321@AOL.COM>

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2 Introduction to Letterpress

2.1 How do I get started with Letterpress?

Well, that depends on what you want to do. If you want to print yourself, this section of the FAQ has some references to where to learn what you will need. If you just want to find someone to do letterpress printing for you, that's what the next question is about.

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2.2 What do I need to get started in letterpress?

The minimum equipment to do letterpress printing is:

  • Printing press - a platen press, table-top press, or even an iron hand press (see Press Types). Alternate: you can borrow the use of a press at a friend's print shop or at the local book arts center (eg, Center for Book Arts in NY, a museum of printing, etc).
  • Type - some cases of hand-set, foundry, type will be best. If you get Monotype cast type, it will still work but it won't last as long as foundry (the foundry metal is harder than the metal used in Monotype casters). Alternate: you can have a plate maker (such as Owosso Graphic) to make a type-high printing block from any camera ready copy (from your laser printer or a cuts book).
  • Composing stick - a specialized tool for holding the type as you assemble lines of your text matter. The most popular were made by Rouse, so a search in eBay for "rouse" will usually find it even when the vendor has no clue what it is.
  • Spacing - unless you're working from plates, you'll need spacing material to match all the sizes of your type: 12 pt spacing for 12 pt type, etc. Spacing comes in different widths to make up the horizontal distance in your composing stick. Thin spacing is copper (1 pt) and brass (2 pts); thicker spacing is lead and is sized relative to the point size - smaller than 1 em is how many make up 1 em: 3 to the em, 4 to the em, etc. Larger than 1 em are quads: 2 em quad, 3 em quad, etc.
  • Leading (pronounded to rhyme with sledding and wedding) - vertical distance between lines of type is created with strips of lead, the thinnest of which is 1 pt thick, then 2 pt, 6 pt, etc.
  • Furniture & reglet - large spaces in your form are filled up with wooden or metal blocks called furniture and strips of wood called reglet.
  • Composing stone - a very smooth and flat surface for assembling your form and locking up your chase. It can be made of real stone or steel. Alternate: you can substitute a large piece of plate glass if you are careful not to ever drop something metal on it (which will create dangerous chips or cracks).
  • Plane - this is a block of wood polished flat on one side and usually with a protective pad of leather on the opposite side. You rest it on your form and tap it to make sure that all the sorts of type are tamped down to rest on the stone. Alternete: a medium piece of wood furniture (never metal) can be used: something like 10x30 pica or thereabouts.
  • Quoins (pronounced like "coins") - you'll need at least two of these plus a tool to adjust them. They take up the final space in the chase once you have assembled your form and all its furniture so that it is locked tight and won't fall out when you put the chase in the press.
  • Tympan paper - smooth, treated paper that has a very even thickness for backing the sheet on which you are printing. Multiple layers of tympan paper can build up on the platen to adjust your impression strength. Alternate: Some stiff card stock and other smooth paper can make a good subsitute.
  • Guage pins - three guage pins are needed to hold the sheet when you cycle the press to print. I prefer the Megill tightening pins that have two knobs for tightening the grip on the paper; you can adjust them more finely than any other kind. Alternate: many printers simply take a large piece of spacing, such as a 24 pt 3em space and tape them on the tympan sheet.
  • Ink - oil or rubber based ink in several colors.
  • Solvent - something to clean the type and the press. I clean everything with Dalco Juice, extracted from oranges. (Note Dalco is now a division of Polychem - they still carry Dalco Juice 92: call 1-800-431-2072 and ask for Mark at x 360 to order a 5 gallon can or 55 gallon drum of this great stuff.)

David Macfarlane, Green Dolphin Press

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2.3 Where do I find letterpress printers?

Crane (the paper manufacturer) has a list at www.crane.com. Also, Briar Press has listings of letterpress printers and other people associated with letterpress.

You can also find printers by Googling "letterpress printing" or asking at your nearest letterpress equipment supplier (eg, Letterpress Things in Massachusetts.

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2.4 Who teaches letterpress printing?

Some of the best courses are taught at regional book arts centers, such as the Center for Book Arts in New York, New York, the Minnesota Center for Book Arts in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the San Francisco Center for the Book, and others. If you are in England, or want to go there, the Alembic Press has one week and Saturday workshops with the extra added feature that they also have a Bed and Breakfast to accomodate you. The Rare Book School includes letterpress among their courses both in illustration and in the construction of books.

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2.5 What books can I use to learn letterpress printing?

Many printers now printing learned letterpress in high school using "General Printing" by Glen U. Cleeton and Charles W. Pitkin (Bloomington, IL: McKnight & McKnight Publishing Company, 1941-1963) or Polk & Polk's "The Practice of Printing" (Peoria, IL: The Manual Arts Press, 1937-1945). These two books have excellent instructional value, are well illustrated, and can be found readily in many used book stores or on the Internet.

NA Graphics (www.nagraph.com) has reprinted the "must-have" book for platen press owners: "Platen Press Operation" by George J. Mills. If you have a floor standing Chandler & Price, Gordon Pearl, or similar press, you'll benefit from this book many times over.

Also see the Green Dolphin Press Typography and Printing Bibliography.

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2.6 What web sites will teach me about letterpress printing?

Perhaps the best introduction to letterpress on the web is David S. Rose's comprehensive Intro to Letterpress which covers many topics and has an excellent references section.

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3 Presses

3.1 What are the main types of printing presses?

Printing is primarily divided into three main categories depending on whether the image surface that gets inked is indented (eg, engraving), flat (eg, lithography), or raised (eg, letterpress).
That is, with engraving, the image gets cut into the material (eg, copper); lithography, the image is painted on a flat stone surface; and letterpress, the image is raised metal, linoleum, or wood.
[[This exposition will be elaborated upon in due time.]]

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3.2 What are some standard roller sizes?

Standard roller diameters for C & P presses are as follows:
8 x 12 = 1 1/2"
10 x 15 = 1 3/4"
12 x 18 = 2"
14 1/2 x 22 = 2"

Rubber rollers are stocked by NA Graphics, P.O. Box 467, Silverton CO 81433 Phone 970/387-0212, FAX 970/387-0127. They also stock Morgan Expansion Trucks.

Hal Sterne

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3.3 How do I clean rust off iron?

The way we remove rust from machined iron surfaces at the foundry, is with plenty of solvent (or diesel oil) and a scotch brite pad. Wear rubber gloves so you don't dry out your fingers. When the metal is shiny, wipe on a coating of oil to protect it. For areas that cannot be oiled, because of paper contact, try Johnson's Paste Wax. Rub it on heavy, and don't polish it off. It will self-polish, and protect in the mean time.
John A. Hern Jr. 1900 Millview Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814

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3.4 How can I date my C&P press from the serial number?

New Series Presses
8 x 12

   B50000
to B50200     1912
to B51005     1913
to B51676     1914
to B52377     1915
to B58950     1916-1925
to B61502     1926-1930
to B62300     1931-1935
to B62850     1936-1940
to B63077     1941-1945
to B64159     1946-1950
to B64565     1951-1955
to B64751     1956-1960
to B64780     1961-1962


10 x 15

   XC 100
toXC102        1925-1927
toXC163        1931-1933
toXC202        1934-1936
toXC236        1937-1941


10 x 15

    C50,100
to C53,671      1911-1915
to C67,101      1916-1925
to C71,300      1926-1930
to C71,987      1931-1935
to C72,667      1936-1940
to C72,901      1941-1946
to C76,100      1947-1950
to C76,666      1951-1955
to C77,077      1956-1960
to C77,168      1961-1965

12 x 18

    X100
to X2101        1921-1925
to X3548        1926-1930
to X3794        1931-1935
to X3846        1936-1941


Craftsmen Style Presses

12 x 18

    D50,000
to D52,266     1911-1915
to D55,552     1916-1920
to D60,151     1921-1925
to D61,852     1926-1930
to D62,254     1931-1925
to D62,685     1936-1940
to D62,836     1941-1946
to D63,518     1947-1950
to D63,930     1951-1955
to D64,145     1956-1960
to D64,202     1961-1964

14 1/2 x 22

    XK 100
to XK 464    1927-1930
to XK 841    1931-1940
to XK 1051   1941-1960
to XK 1058   1961-1962

14 1/2 x 22

    K50,001
to K50,166    1911-1915
to K51,468    1916-1920
to K52,224    1921-1925
to K53,003    1926-1930
to K53,277    1931-1935
to K53,609    1936-1940
to K53,751    1941-1946
to K54,318    1947-1950
to K54,589    1951-1955
to K54,721    1956-1960
to K60,001    1961-1964

14 1/2 x 22

    HHK101
to HHK147    1935-1940
to HHK452    1941-1950
to HHK693    1951-1958
to HHK735    1959-1961


OLD SERIES PRESSES

An old version of this list was copied from 
"The Chandler and Price Press Pyramid of Sales", but
there were rumors of better information being available
from the APA.

Thanks to Arie Koelewyn of the The Paper Airplane Press,
we now have the updated information, which follows:

Serial Number List for CHANDLER & PRICE Presses and Paper Cutters 1884 - 1964 a convenient pocket size booklet for the information of AMATEUR PRINTERS EVERYWHERE and particularly for members of the AMALGAMATED PRINTERS' ASSOCIATION and the AMERICAN AMATEUR PRESSS ASSOCIATION by J. GORDON BOGGS at the LOYAL OAK PRIVATE PRESS 3459 Wadsworth Road Norton, Ohaio 44203 APA 390
OLD SERIES PRESSES 7 x 11 ====== 301 1884 501 1885 653 1886 797 1887 1053 1888 1181 1889 1241 1889 [sic] 1265 1890 1365 1891 1461 1892 1533 1893 1587 1894 1697 1895 1801 1896 1935 1897 2041 1898 2165 1899 2355 1900 2547 1901 2681 1902 2815 1903 2925 1904 3077 1905 A1 1905 A26 1906 A65 1907 A135 1908 A150 1909 A176 1910 A201 1911 A228 1912 A241 1913 End of Line 8 x 12 ====== 25001 1887 25053 1888 25379 1889 25811 1890 26365 1891 26891 1892 27521 1893 27989 1894 28711 1895 29701 1896 30555 1897 31627 1898 32901 1899 34207 1900 35633 1901 37039 1902 39401 1903 41041 1904 42889 1905 B1 1905 B519 1906 B1726 1907 B2908 1908 B3651 1909 B4701 1910 B5527 1911 End of Line 10 x 15 ======= 302 1884 502 1885 556 1886 858 1997 1138 1888 1456 1889 1834 1890 2336 1891 2902 1892 3568 1893 4048 1894 4822 1895 5842 1896 6702 1897 7602 1898 8656 1899 9908 1900 11132 1901 12298 1902 14100 1903 15840 1904 17676 1905 C1 1905 C601 1906 C1801 1907 C3201 1908 C4001 1909 C6474 1910 C7421 1912 C7576 1913 End of Line 12 x 18 ======= 22001 1892 22022 1893 22068 1894 22176 1895 22303 1896 22458 1897 22670 1898 22901 1899 23136 1900 23354 1901 23622 1902 23951 1903 24270 1904 24605 1905 D1 1905 D314 1906 D762 1907 D1313 1908 D1629 1909 D2252 1910 D2802 1911 D3223 1912 D3351 1913 End of Line 14 x 20 ======= 25002 1888 25034 1889 25088 1890 25248 1891 25402 1892 25438 1893 25498 1894 25682 1895 26002 1896 26202 1897 26456 1898 26682 1899 27050 1900 27262 1901 27476 1902 27828 1903 28068 1904 28446 1905 E1 1905 E40 1906 E124 1907 E208 1908 E253 1909 E313 1910 E383 1911 E429 1912 E445 1913 E481 1914 End of Line 14 1/2 x 22 =========== 25100 1888 25104 1889 25144 1890 25156 1891 25308 1892 25340 1893 25366 1894 25440 1895 25742 1896 25928 1897 26372 1899 26738 1900 26956 1901 27320 1902 27556 1903 27944 1904 28318 1905 K1 1905 K72 1906 K174 1907 K280 1908 K344 1909 K456 1910 K586 1911 K684 1912 K704 1913 K714 1914 End of Line

An C&P Old Series press can be identified by the "S" shaped spokes of the flywheel. Starting with August 1911 or 1912 the "New Syle" Gordon had a flywheel with straight spokes. This oldstyle list was complied from an ad that boasts of total sales per year and the first 26 years of press manufacture. The decline production pyramid would be very interesting to see.

The Franklin Gordon press patent-protection from the 1870's lapsed and in 1901 C&P bought the Gordon works. The original Chandler and Price patent of 1885 covered only the design of the throw-off arm and not the press design. The press patent drawing includes steam pulley accessories but no threadle.

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3.5 How is the size of a press measured?

By the inside of the largest chase it will hold.

[Back to Table of Contents]   [Back to Section 3 questions]


3.6 What's the best way to move a Gordon Style (e.g., Pearl, C&P) Press?

Check out the nicely illustrated page on moving a press at Mo's web site.

From: "David M. Norton"

Here're some directions for all you people moving C&P style presses. Several people have used these directions without problems.

Press Moving--Gordon Style

TOOLS

I use a gear puller to remove gears and separate the flywheel from the shaft. Sears sells them and you can often rent one from tool rental stores. If the puller hooks slide off the flywheel because of the curvature of the casting, bridge between two spokes with pieces of strap iron (mine are 1/4" x 1-1/4" and once connected the handle to a hand lawn mower) and hook the gear puller onto them. You also need a heavy screwdriver, wrecking bar (crow bar or whatever), platen adjusting wrench (should come with the press or you can use a big Crescent), hammer and dowel (hunk of a broom or mop handle) if you pull the shaft connecting the bed and roller arm assembly to the frame, assorted scraps of wood, perhaps a propane torch, and a good vocabulary in case you mash a finger or break a casting. Some castings break easily. I dropped one eight or ten inches onto a wooden box and it snapped, but my friendly local welder fixed it good as new. The rule is: don't force and don't drop.

DISASSEMBLY

1. If possible, locate the press so there is at least five feet of open space behind it, three or four feet on the flywheel side, and a couple feet on the front and right side 2. Remove feedboard and delivery board 3. Remove platen a. Disconnect gripper assembly by removing wheel riding in a slot attached to the left side of the frame b. Remove nuts from adjusting bolts under corners of the platen c. Lift platen off (may take a little gentle urging with a pry bar) d. Leave adjusting bolts in platen (don't turn) unless they make moving difficult 4. Remove treadle if there is one a. Unhook from main shaft b. Remove brackets at rear of press 5. Close up press and tie bed and frame sections securely together with strong rope or wire 6. Remove ink disc and supporting brackets 7. Remove fly wheel and shaft a. Pull belt wheel from end of shaft opposite flywheel, if there is one b. Pull gear from end of shaft opposite flywheel (you may have to heat it with a propane torch to get it off) c. Remove bolts from shaft retainer plate on flywheel side of frame d. Pull shaft from frame--slides out on flywheel side taking retainer plate with it e. Flywheel may be pulled from shaft for ease in moving 8. Remove throw-off lever and linkage if there is one 9. Remove brake if there is one 10. Remove motor if there is one attached to the press 11. Remove back plate connecting roller carriers. Don't let roller carriers flop down 12. Remove side arms connecting bed and frame 13. Remove roller carrier actuating arm on flywheel side of press. Hold left roller carrier to prevent flopping 14. Remove roller carriers 15. Untie bed and swivel it back onto the floor without dropping. Careful, it's heavy, you may want some help 16. Wedge blocks of wood between arms of bed piece and the floor, as close to the frame as possible 17. Drive out shaft holding bed to frame. Some presses have collars with set screws to keep the shaft from moving. If so, loosen set screws before driving out shaft This should get you down to pieces two or three people can handle without much trouble. Most of it you can do yourself. (I take the bed and frame of an 8 x 12 in one load in the station wagon, with a helper. Get the rest of the press in another load by myself. If you have a C&P Model N you might need a pick-up truck and more help--it's a heavy monster. I don't recommend the following but you may have to do it: You now have a frame with a shaft on the front with a gear on the right and a wheel or gear on the left. Main gear, on the right, is cast and contains the track for moving the platen. It breaks easily and is difficult to weld. The wheel (or gear) on the left end of the shaft is often also a casting and fragile. The platen block has an arm on the right side with a wheel (cam rider) on its end that rides in a slot in the main gear. When the main gear is moved to the right this wheel slides out of the cam slot of the gear and, if not supported, the platen block will rotate on its shaft and flop over with a crash. On some models the cam rider arm (another casting) will hit the frame and snap. If you must strip down the frame: 1. Pull the gear or wheel on the left side of the frame. Go easily, using heat, penetrating oil, WD40, prayer, profanity, or anything else you think might help. Be careful not to push the shaft to the right as you're pulling the gear. 2. Hold the platen block so it can't flop and move the shaft to the right until the platen block cam rider disengages from the main gear. Carefully ease the platen block down, letting it pivot toward the rear of the press. Finish pulling the main gear and shaft as a unit. 3. Remove the plates on each side of the frame holding the platen block (remove bolts and lift plates off) 4. Carefully lift off the platen block 5. Unscrew nuts on ends of cross braces and the frame should slip apart

CLEANING & INSPECTING

Now that you have the press apart, clean it up. Pay special attention to gummy or hardened crud on bearing surfaces. Lacquer thinner or WD40 and elbow grease should shine them up. Clean out oil holes with a nail or small drill if necessary. Check all wheels that ride on cams for roundness. If any have flat surfaces have them built up by brazing or welding and turned true, or it may be cheaper to have new ones made from bar stock. I had a flat spot on a cam rider brazed slightly oversize, then carefully filed it down to round, some 20 years ago. Cost me about a buck and is still going strong, although it looks a little odd. Could have had one machined for several bucks.

REASSEMBLY

I put the frame on 2x4 skids, extending three or four inches beyond the legs front and back. I can get a wrecking bar under one skid, lift it about 1/4" and block it up, then the other side ditto, lifting it a little at a time so as not to put too much stress on the frame castings, until I can get pieces of 1" galvanized pipe under each skid. With this I can move a fully assembled 10 x 15 press by myself, assisted by an occasional hell or damn. Get a pipe under one end, roll it a ways, get another pipe under it, roll it, move pipe, etc. To turn corners, angle the pipes. If the thickness of the skids makes the press too high for comfortable feeding stand on some scraps of carpeting or rug pad for right height and soft footing. Don't try to assemble the press on rollers, you'll chase it all over the shop. Mount skids, assemble, then put on rollers to move into place. Put the monster back together by following the taking apart instructions backwards. Blow out oil holes and wipe bearings as you go along--grit cuts metal. Since all bearings will be dry, give each a shot of oil before moving the parts. If you have a counterweighted flywheel you may have to play with it a bit before you get the press running smoothly. If it runs lopsidedly, or jerkily, or some other kind of crazily, pull the bull gear (main shaft, opposite flywheel), move it about a quarter turn, and try again. Gear teeth may be marked for matching, which simplifies the job.


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3.7 What are the different Gordon Models (including Pearls)?

A) Pearl presses
-------------------------------------------------------------

Pearl 1     Chase size 5 x 8; Old Style; no throwoff; 
            heart-shaped treadle; 3 wooden drawers in the base.

Pearl 8     Chase size 5 x 8; Improved; has throwoff; 
            rectangular treadle with the word PEARL in raised letters; 
            single hinged lid in base

Pearl 3     Chase size 7 x 11; Old Style; no throwoff; 
            heart-shaped treadle; 2 wooden drawers in base; two rollers.

Pearl 11    Chase size 7 x 11; Improved; has throwoff; rectangular treadle
            with the word PEARL in raised letters; single hinged lid in base; 
            3 rollers

Pearl 5     Chase size  9 x 14;  Old Style; no throwoff; 
            heart-shaped treadle; 2 drawers in base; twoi rollers.

Pearl 14    Chase size 9 x 14;  Improved; has throwoff; 
            rectangular treadle with the word PEARL in raised letters; 
            single hinged lid in base; 3 rollers.

B) Golding Jobbers
--------------------------------------------------------------

Jobber 6    Chase size 8 x 12; 3 rollers

Jobber 7    Chase size 10 x 15; 3 rollers

Jobber 8    Chase size 12 x 18; 3 rollers

Jobber 9    Chase size 15 x 21; 3 rollers

Jobber 18  Chase size 12 x 18; 4 rollers

Jobber 21  Chase size 15 x 21; 4 rollers

C) Official presses
--------------------------------------------------------------

Official 1   Chase size 3 x 4-1/2

Official 2   Chase size 4 x 6

Official 3   Chase size 5 x 7-1/2

Official 4   Chase size 6 x 9; platen moves

Official 9   Chase size 6 x 9; platen stationary, bed moves (.Map press.)

Official 6   Chase size  8-1/4 x 12-1/2; platen moves

Official 12 Chase size 8-1/4 x 12-1/2; platen stationary; bed moves; (.Map
         press.)

-- Steve Saxe


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3.8 How do I adjust the platen on a platen (clamshell) press?

By David Norton

I usually adjust the platen when I'm ready to run a job--no sense inking and washing a press just to adjust the monster.

Get a cap M or H, 48 pt. or larger, preferably damaged but not squashed under type high. Tape a 2 pt. lead to the face. Find a piece of string a couple of feet long and tie one end around the sides of the type.

Remove the tympan and all packing.

Close the press, stopping it with the platen lock (under the delivery board) snapped into place and the rollers at the top of the plate.

Grasp the string and let the piece of type slide down between the platen and bed on the left side. If it won't go in, loosen the lock nuts and back off the platen adjusting bolts. If it rattles around, take up the bolts. Using the string, slide the type up and down and back and forth. Set the platen as snugly as possible to the type+lead without binding.

Lock up a form with a cap H or M, about 48 pt., about five picas from each corner of the chase. Move the grippers out of the way.

Ink up the press and put on a tympan. Drop the form in and try an impression. Build up with hard packing until you get a kiss impression on at least one corner. Adjust platen bolts for a kiss impression on each corner.

Now your platen is level and, by adjusting packing, you should be able to run anything from a single character to a full form on anything from tissue to card stock. Throw the damn adjusting wrench away!

If you're going to run extremely heavy stock you may want to use a 3 or 4 pt. lead on the face of the letter used as a gauge to back the impression off enough to accept the heavier stock. Be sure to use hard packing to build up for thinner stock.

Sounds complicated, but it's the fastest technique I've run into. I can set up a press in fifteen or twenty minutes with luck, with problems it may take half an hour.

I have a steel type high block I use but a letter works just as well if you don't squeeze it. You can easily squash it under type high with a medium pull on an adjusting nut, so be careful.

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4 Press operation

4.1 How do I set up my press workshop?

Joe Smith recommended drawing your shop to scale, and moving around scale cardboard blocks representing equipment.
I have also laid out several plants using this method, and fully agree it is very easy and efficient. That's the way I laid out my printshop as well, and would do it again in precisely the same way.
Also remember to reserve plenty of room for storage of paper, supplies, and other treasures that will come to you from time to time. I wish I had twice the storage room, an am fortunate to have another room nearby for current items, and space at work for not-so-current things.
John A. Hern Jr. 1900 Millview Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814


From: Ned Heite <eheite@DMV.COM>
Joe's right, and I might add that "extra" space, beyond your perceived needs, should be considered essential and not a luxury. One well-respected printing manual suggests that a shop, with a handpress, no less, can be put in a space about thirteen feet square. Ouch. To my mind, certain essentials mustn't be overlooked.
1. Provide a convenient exit path for every piece of equipment; provide for the removal of each machine. I once passed up an opportunity to obtain a very fine machine because it was situated in the back of a crowded shop, filled with large machines that had been installed after it was in place. They ended up cutting it apart for scrap.
2. Make sure the wiring is flexible, and the lights can be moved. I stick with the $10 two-tube fluorescent shop light, plugged into duplex ceiling outlets that are switched. That way I have the convenience of one switch to control the lights in three rooms of the shop, and I can move them to suit conditions.
3. Ventilate, ventilate, ventilate.
You've had some good advice, but I would chime in with a small note. Allow enough room for some table space near your press. This comes in handy for ink mixing, tool starage, etc. that may be necessary close to the press. It also helps if you are feeding stock which is larger than the feedboard. Perhaps you should consider soem type of utility cart which can be used in various areas but has a "home" position out of the way somewhere.
John G. Henry - Cedar Creek Press "Lots of room is never enough"
My observations on this topic having moved shop a few times:
1. It's a three-dimensional problem: If, like me, you are not a standard height yourself then take the opportunity of setting up to compensate. If you are tall build up everything and save your back. If you are short consider at least a small raised platform where you stand in front of the cases to do your typesetting. Also what can you build shelves over without obstructing it?
2. Lots of shelves - strong ones. In one shop I lined the walls just above head height with 9 inch shelves. It doesn't cut down on light from above much or on floorspace at all but it does give you somewhere to store all that stuff that you might want someday. You might wonder what you need all the shelf space for, but only until you have been doing this for a few months. Do it now before all the machines and things get in your way.
3. Paint it now (before verything is in the way and easy to splash), a nice bright colour (white is simple). It's difficult to make a shop too bright and it will save your eyes in the end. That goes for the floor too if it is plain concrete. Linoleum paint will seal in the dust. If it is concrete it will be cold and a rubber mat where you stand will help or consider cheap linoleum everywhere before you start.
4. If you have a power press consider setting it up on a wooden or rubber base to dull the transmission of vibrations to other parts of the building.
5. Having established territory be ruthless in denying entrance to anything that isn't printing-related. If you get resistance to this suggest it would be really very handy to keep your inks/solvents/etc. frost-free in a kitchen cupboard next to the groceries ...
Good luck!
Richard Lawrence -- Thumb Print, Oxford, UK

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4.2 What about oiling a press?

John Hern stated:
"... Proper lubrication usually is just a few drops of oil; and remember a little frequently is better than a lot once a year. A good rule is to take a rag and wipe as you oil. If you see oil on the surface, you probably have plenty."
I favor 90 weight gear oil in a goose-neck pumper can. I oil up and wipe down the press any time it has sat idle. (i.e. not between same-day runs unless they are really long) As John stated, every point there are two parts in contact moving in opposition one is likely to find an oiling point.
In making a mental picture of my oiling sequence, I count 26 oiling holes on an 8x12 o.s. C & P. Don't miss the all important oil hole inside the large toothed driving gear. There is a smaller roller which runs in the track inside that gear that actuates the opening/closing of the platen. That small roller has an oil hole accessed by turning the press over by hand. By using a goose-neck can you can get at it.
Also make sure you hit the 4 large journal oil holes that lube the large diameter shaft the platen pivots on. There is one each on the "bearing caps" accessed when the platen is closed, and two under the delivery board on both sides of the shaft housing that can be tough to see in the shadow of the board.
I have found that the press runs perceptibly easier when oiled prior to running. (no surprise)
remember: "oil's cheaper than iron"
mjb
interrobang letterpress


Well, in the continuing saga of Finding the C & P Oil Holes.....
I oiled everything I could find Friday. Turned over the press and found that just after the top of the treadle travel I hit a dry spot that groaned slightly. Looked ALL OVER, with spouse and flashlight for help, and just couldn't see another oil hole. Talked to fellow Guild member Jim Gard, who made suggestions on the phone but was taking off again for a week.
Went back out, flashlight in hand, and FOUND the last one. Its surrounding area was grimy and dark, so until I wiped away the grime it was almost invisible. Yep: it's the one behind the main gear on the main shaft, between frame and gear. Only about 10 minutes worth of search-clean-and-squirt got it.
Press is nice and quiet now, and no groans from either the press OR the operator!
==Marjorie Wilser (Printers' Guild, San Jose Historical Museum)

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4.3 What's the best oil for a press?

The best oil for this use is what is called "way oil", designed for use on the "ways" of lathes and machine tools. It is light, so will penetrate small clearances easily, and has a high-tack additive to stick to the bearings without running off.
If you can't get this in small quantities from your industrial/commercial oil dealer, (or local machine shop) use a 20 wt non detergent automotive engine oil from the auto parts store. $1.50 worth will last you ten years.
The reason you want to use a relatively light oil, rather than grease as another lister suggested, is that the light oil "washes" out the bearings as it is being used, keeping contaminants from building up and cutting the bearing surfaces. Grease should only be used on open bearings where oil will not stay put, such as under the hook on a treadle operated press.
John A. Hern

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4.4 How do you print on cloth?

I've printed 4-up labels on calico with no problem at all.
I cut the "blank stock" using a quilter's tool -- cutting mat, straightedge, and "Olfa" cutter (looks like a pizza cutter, but MUCH sharper). That way, I could cut through about 5 layers of cloth at once.
Be sure to learn how best to cut fabric from a QUILTER, so you don't waste any cloth . The SEwing and Quilting Form on Compuserve is a great place to learn -- lots of good advice there! (when you're on Compuserve, it's GO SEWING)
Before I cut the cloth, I *preshrank* and pressed it quite flat while still damp. Once it was cut, I found that by simply laying the cloth on the platen, it would stay flat enough to act as if it were paper. I just laid it on the platen and used ordinary gage pins. This cloth was about the size of your platen, 5 X 8". (My Superior is a 7 X 10)
Oh -- also, I know a guy who treats ribbon in a similar fashion, so I've tried that too: make sure it's a polyester ribbon, not cotton, and fairly smooth. You can make a guide by taping leads to the platen, and run it from the spool (on a stick) on one side of the platen, to the counter OR just to the floor, and cut it after printing. This guy makes clothing labels for his wife's custom creations.
Worried about washing?? NO PROBLEM -- printers' ink *never* comes out of cloth!! (I am wearing some ink stains that have lasted at least 10 years of regular laundering!)
==Marjorie Wilser

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4.5 How do I do die cutting on my platen press?

Leonard Molberg has written a very helpful monograph titled "Die Cutting Primer".

You will need careful control of impression strength, so you don't smash your cutting die or wreck your press. You also need a "cutting jacket", a piece of steel plate that protects the platen of the press from the sharp edges of the cutting die.

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5 Type

5.1 Who is still making (casting) type?

See Section 9 below.

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5.2 How do you clean dried ink off type?

I use ovencleaner. Chas Klensch, Underground Press, NYC


I understand that oven cleaner is basicly lye, which is what the old timers used. I read somewhere not to use lye for cleaning (I think they were trying to sell some sort of chemical instead) so I ran out and tried it. It works so well on metal type that the stuff looks new. The problem is it cleans so effectively, the type may start to corrode unless you put some oil on it to preserve it. Lye is readily available at grocery stores. I'd get the pure stuff, though; oven cleaners, drain cleaners, etc may have additives that wouldn't be good with lead.
Now, as far as cleaning wood type, the lye is basicly a water soluble product, so as with any water, I'd be real cautious about getting it around the type. How about some kind of hydrocarbon type wash here?
John A. Hern Jr. 1900 Millview Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814 e-mail hern@nidlink.com Dipl.Ing. Mechanical Engineer
Outside use a rag or sponge soaked in laquer thinner and put the type face-down on it for a few minutes, then wipe clean with another thinner soaked rag. It will dry quickly and not destroy even wood type.
Andy FCG
Anchor Typewash is good at eating away very old ink and other residue--with a little scrubbing it took ink off my two-disk plate that had been dried on there for at least a decade--within about five minutes. You may have to use a good bit--it dries extremely quickly and leaves virtually no residue.
It also eats right through regular latex or rubber gloves, but if you buy the chemical resistant gloves available at most hardware stores you can use it safely without getting it on your hands.
edinman <edinman@EARTHLINK.NET>

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5.3 What is a fair price for a font of [used] type in good condition?

The answer is not as easy. If I wanted Cooper Black and found a complete font I'd think 75% or more a fair price. However if I was offered 12 point Bodoni, or Arrighi, I'd think twice before buying it at all. If it were much used it would be useless for decent work. If it were very slightly used it could be worth 50%, but all would depend on condition, hard to assess without a glass.
The price of a new font of Bodoni 14 point in 1912 was $3.00 at American Type Founders. For the same size font we would charge, at $13.00 a poind, $45.50. The Cost of Living Indiex rose so that the $3.00 would now be $48.48. [cf. www.newsengin.com for cost of living calculator]. The price of quite ordinary paper tripled in the last 25 years.
We will be offering type in October in any quantity, large or small, send SASE to me at 224 Main St., Nevada City, CA 95959 if interested.
Harold Berliner

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5.4 How do you ship type in cases?

I've moved full typecases a couple of times and found that this works: fit a few (depending on total weight) one on top of the other - so that the case on tup covers completely the case below it.) Staple corrugated cardboard over the top case, and then use polypropelene strapping, with suitable tensioner and joiner, to keep the cases together. Nothing will spill. ---Steve Saxe

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5.5 Do type composers contract lead poisoning from handling lead type all day? Are there precautions we should be taking?

No, as long as you don't stir your black coffee with a slug. Wash your hands with a good hand cleaner (I favor the commercially available borax/powdered handsoap admixture) and a good Brit made fingernail/hand brush. I have my shop in my home and had my blood tested and there was no trace of lead, even though I live with it. Basically, use common sense.
Michael Babcock

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5.6 How much does type weigh?

1 sq. inch of "foundry" type weighs 4.179 oz. (+/-) or 118.5gm This by weighing unused 18pt ATF Baskerville M's.
Therefore, there is 3.828 sq. inches of printing surface/lb. of foundry type. Or 8.438 sq. inches of printing surface/kilo of foundry type. (This allows you to visualize how much type you get when looking at the price per pound or kilo)
The weight of monotype is usually less as the castings are less dense, but it's probably fractional. Michael Babcock

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5.7 What are the character quantities of typical fonts?

This is known as the fonting scheme. The "size" of the font of type is specified by the number of upper and lower case 'a' sorts. For example, a 12 pt font of a good book face might be "24A 47a".

Based on a late vintage ATF catalog, here are selected values:
AINORST.,34581012141618202530354045505560657075
BWY22234567881012141618202223262830
CL23457891112131720232730333740434750
DHMPU2235678910111316192124272932353740
E456101214171922243036424854606672788490
FG'22345678991214161921232628303335
JKV-22234455667891011121313141415
QXZ&:;!?111233344456677899101011
ainorst34581012141618202530354045505560657075
bgpwy22234567881012141618202224262830
cfmu2235678910111316192124272932353740
d23357891011121518212427303336394245
e4561013162121242733404753606773808793100
hl23457891112131720232730333740434750
jkv22234455667891011121313141415
qxz111233344456677899101011
.,2235678910111316192124272932353740
-111223333344556677889


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5.8 What are the point sizes for the old names for type sizes?

My Monotype Book of Information (1950) says:


Minikin      3pt     0.0414ins
Brilliant    3.5pt   0.0484
Gem          4pt     0.0553
Diamond      4.5pt   0.0622
Pearl                 0.066     (nb 5pt is 0.0691)
Ruby         5.5pt   0.0760 also called Agate (Monotype in 1928 gave size as
0.0725)
Nonpareil            0.0833  (nb 6pt is 0.0830)
Emerald      6.5pt   0.0899
Minion               0.0972  (nb 7pt is 0.0968)
Brevier              0.1083  (nb 8pt is 0.1107)
Bourgeois            0.118   (nb 9pt is 0.1245)
Long Primer          0.135   (nb 10pt is 0.1383)
Small Pica           0.145   (nb 11pt is 0.1521)
Pica                 0.1667 (nb 12pt is 0.1660)
English              0.188    (nb 13pt is 0.1798 and 14pt is 0.1936)
2line Brevier        0.2166  (nb 16pt is 0.2213)
Great Primer         0.235    (nb 18pt is 0.249)
Paragon              0.2626   (nb 20pt is 0.2766)
Double Pica          0.289     (nb 22pt is 0.3043)
2line Pica           0.3362    (nb 24pt is 0.332)
2line English        0.375

the 1928 Manual adds
3line Pica           0.498 (ie 36pt)
4line Pica           0.6668  (48pt is 0.664)

and of course
3pt = 0.0414 but 3didot = 0.0444
4pt= 0.0553  but 4didot = 0.0592
4.5pt = 0.0622 but 4.5didot = 0.666
etc
because 12pt = 0.166 but 12didot = 0.1776
and         72pt = 0.996 but 72didot = 1.0658

And note the different units iro old (English) point sizes of pica = 0.1667ins
and new (US/English) point size of 12pt = 0.166ins, ie 8pt is 0.1107 but 8pt
Brevier is 0.1083.

David Bolton
The Alembic Press, Oxford, UK                            AlembicPrs@aol.com


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6 Composing

6.1 Where do I put non-standard sorts in my type case?

I find these characters generally gravitate in my case to the upper row of the caps side. I have, however, some fonts with many swash, accented and terminal characters for which I cut a separator out of reglet to sub-divide the actual character compartment so a portion of it can be used to provide homes for the special characters.

John G. Henry - Cedar Creek Press


I cut card that will fit across the bottom and back of empty or unused slots and mark the character on the exposed top of the card facing you. This will only work if you have empty slots, for large fonts that have many accented characters, I cut cards to fit the bottom of the slot with a short wall between the standard English character and the accented character. You can fold the card to provide larger spaces above or below in the individual slots. This will also work for fonts with swash characters - I divide the character slots in two parts putting the swash characters in the smaller partition at the top. Bob Magill

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6.2 What mnemonics are used for memorizing the California Job Case?

Jamie Syer <jksyer@TELUSPLANET.NET> says he uses: 'Be Careful Driving Elephants Into Small Ford Garages.' Also, 'Let Me Now Help Out Your Punctuation With Commas,' and 'Villians Usually Take A Ride.'

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7 Materials

7.1 What kinds of ink can one use for letterpress printing?

There are three main kinds of ink: oil-based, rubber-based, and acrylic. Any of these will do for letterpress printing. You can even use offset ink (which is usually oil-based, but can be rubber-based).

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7.2 What kinds of paper can one use?

Almost any kind of paper will print with letterpress techniques.

The best paper is high-rag content paper - and if you want your work effort to last, get pH-balanced (ie, "acid-free") paper.

Good book-weight papers include Mohawk Superfine and Zerkall Book-weight Smooth (100 gsm).

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8 Measurement

8.1 What are the traditional sizes of flat sheets of paper?

From the Printing Trades Blue Book, 1917, published by A.F. Lewis & Co., New York.
 Nameinches
 Cap 14 x 17
 Crown15 x 19
 Demy16 x 21
 Folio17 x 22
 Double Cap17 x 28
 Medium18 x 23
 Royal19 x 24
 Super Royal20 x 28
 Double Demy, Broad21 x 32
 Double Demy, Long16 x 42
 Wedding21 x 33
 Double Folio22 x 34
 Imperial23 x 31
 Double Medium, Broad23 x 36
 Double Medium, Long18 x 46
 Double Royal, Broad24 x 38
 Double Royal, Long19 x 48


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8.2 What do the terms for measuring book sizes mean?

Book sizes are based on the practice of folding a large sheet of paper to create several pages. A traditional sized sheet (e.g., 25 x 38) which is folded twice to create four pages yealds a quarto (4to) sized book (measuring 12.5 x 19), a sheet folded three times to create eight pages yields an octavo (8vo) sized book (measuring 9.5 x 12.5), and so on. If you're mathematical, you'll notice that the number of pages is two raised to the number of folds (2**3 = 8).

This means that the format of a book — quarto, folio, etc. — defines how the book was made from the original sheets and does not actually indicate its size. A folio book (made with one fold in the original sheet) made from a 3" x 4" sheet is smaller than an octavo book made from a sheet measuring 9" x 14".

Unfortunately, almost nobody uses book format names correctly anymore. If you want to be a purist, don't use a format name to indicate size - always use it's measure in mm, cm, or inches. Use format only when you know how the book was made from the original hand-made sheet of paper. Strictly speaking, a book does not have a format if it isn't made from a hand-made sheet of paper.

With the caveat that using format names for book sizes is completely wrong and bogus (sigh), the most commonly used book sized designations and their approximate heights in inches are:
  Miniature 3" or less
  48mo under 4"
  Trigesimosecundo (32mo) 4" to 5"
  Vigesimoquarto (24mo) 5" to 6"
  Sextodecimo (16mo) 6" to 7"
  Duodecimo (12mo) 7" to 8"
  Octavo (8vo) about 8" to 11"
  Quarto (4to) 11" to 13"
  Folio over 13"
  Elephant Folio over 23"
  Double Elephant Folio over 25"


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8.3 What are the decimal inch equivalents of commonly used point sizes?

Based on the standard of 996 points fitting into 35 centimeters, and 2.54 centimeters per inch, we have 72 points equal to 0.9961104 inch.

Taking a number of commonly used values (including fractional points for calculating the true sizes of 3-in-em, 4-in-em, and 5-in-em spacing) we can produce the following table:
1/4 = 0.0034587"14/4 = 0.0484220"10 1/2 = 0.1452661"19 = 0.2628625"
1/3 = 0.0046116"18/5 = 0.0498055"11 = 0.1521835"19 1/2 = 0.2697799"
1/2 = 0.0069174"4 = 0.0553395"11 1/2 = 0.1591010"20 = 0.2766973"
2/3 = 0.0092232"4 1/2 = 0.0622569"12 = 0.1660184"20 1/2 = 0.2836148"
3/4 = 0.0103762"14/3 = 0.0645627"12 1/2 = 0.1729358"21 = 0.2905322"
1 = 0.0138349"24/5 = 0.0664074"13 = 0.1798533"21 1/2 = 0.2974496"
1 1/2 = 0.0207523"5 = 0.0691743"13 1/2 = 0.1867707"22 = 0.3043671"
8/5 = 0.0221358"5 1/2 = 0.0760918"14 = 0.1936881"22 1/2 = 0.3112845"
9/5 = 0.0249028"6 = 0.0830092"14 1/2 = 0.2006056"23 = 0.3182019"
2 = 0.0276697"6 1/2 = 0.0899266"15 = 0.2075230"24 = 0.3320368"
9/4 = 0.0311285"7 = 0.0968441"15 1/2 = 0.2144404"28 = 0.3873763"
12/5 = 0.0332037"7 1/2 = 0.1037615"16 = 0.2213579"32 = 0.4427157"
2 1/2 = 0.0345872"8 = 0.1106789"16 1/2 = 0.2282753"42 = 0.5810644"
8/3 = 0.0368930"8 1/2 = 0.1175964"17 = 0.2351927"48 = 0.6640736"
14/5 = 0.0387376"9 = 0.1245138"17 1/2 = 0.2421102"64 = 0.8854315"
3 = 0.0415046"9 1/2 = 0.1314312"18 = 0.2490276"72 = 0.9961104"
10/3 = 0.0461162"10 = 0.1383487"18 1/2 = 0.2559450"


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8.4 Is a point 1/72 of an inch or not?

No - points in the letterpress world, and in the rest of the printing world before Adobe, are different from 1/72".

It is important to realize that in the age of computers (more specifically, in the age of Adobe Systems and digital document preparation), there are two different measures called "points".

The traditional point — created in America by Nelson Crocker Hawks in 1877 at Marder Luse and Company and adopted by the newly formed American Type Founders (ATF) in 1892 — is defined as 996 points fitting into 35 centimeters. This gives a point equal to 0.0138349", or 72 points equal to 0.9961104 inch. This is the point you will find on your type gauge (ruler), composing stick, and all the type in your type cases. Take six 12 pt quads and stack them together: you will find they are noticably less than a full inch.

(Note that this is due to the dominance of the Johnson Pica: Lawrence Johnson operated the L. Johnson typefoundry in Philadelphia, which became Binny and Ronaldson and later MacKellar, Smiths and Jordan. Hawkes preferred a pica that was exactly 1/6 of an inch, but the Type Founders' Association of the United States decided in 1886 to adopt the dominant measure of 83 picas (which is equal to 996 points) in 350 cm.) When combined with Lawrence Johnson's definition that a printer's foot is 249/250 of an English foot, one arrives at a point being 0.3513667 mm or 0.1383333 inch.

When Adobe started defining digital document generation and it was necessary to carry typography terms into the computer age, they made a simplyfying assumption: there are exactly 72 points to an inch. This actually doesn't hurt anything, as we rarely need to cross over from metal typography to digital typography.

However, you need to know which point you are talking about if you don't know whether you're in the digital or traditional world.

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8.5 What are the points that are used to measure cardboard and thick card stock?

To begin with, they aren't typographical points.

Card stock points are equal to 1/1000 of an inch (one thousandth). One point equals 0.0254 mm.

So a card stock that is 80 points (pts) would be just over 2 mm (more exactly 2.0320 mm).

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9 Sources

9.1 Who is still making (casting) type?

[[This is really really rough -- I'm still compiling the results of my mailing, and I _do_ intend to put this into alpha order. ]]

We recently compiled a list of all the type founders we could find and sent them each a letter requesting information about their currently available products. We've marked the ones we've heard from with a '*'; if we haven't heard from them it doesn't mean they're not there, of course.

Subsequent to the above mailing, we've also added other foundries I haven't yet added; we'll keep the list in alphabetical order.


Bell Type in L.A.
Rich Hopkins at WVTYPENUT@JUNO.COM
Dale Guild
M&H Type
Quaker City Type
Bill Reiss
215 942 3637

Los Angeles Type
13255 East Imperial Highway
Whittier, CA 90605

P: 562.944.0117
F: 562.944.6240

Ask for Don
NA Graphics Fritz Klinke or Barney
Harold Berliner of Nevada City, CA / 916 273-2278 / e mail: berliner@jps.net
Phone 916-273-2278; fax 916-273-0303; e-mail: berliner@jps.net.
My neighbor, Martin Wolf is casting Monotype Bembo. 250 338-1994
Joe Ziner, Vancouver Island, B.C.
Also Michael & Winifred Bixler, Box 820, Skaneateles, NY 13152; phone 315-685-5181; fax 315-685-1220. They do mostly composition, but will sell type in quantity; it's very well-cast & very reasonable. Ask for their beautifully done free specimen book.
Asa Peavy Bullnettle Press San Francisco
Schriften-Service
D. Stempel GmbH
1. Wartegäßchen 41
D-60598 Frankfurt/Main, Germany

telephone 011 49 69 689 72 11
telefax 011 49 69 68 2332

Herr Gunther Sperzel

They have mats from Stempel, Nebiolo, Haas, Deberny/Peignot, Olive, Berthold and others. They operate as an arm of the Museum of Printing in Darmstadt.
Michael Babcock

fundición tipográfica Bauer SL
Selva de Mar, 50
08019 Barcelona, Spain

Fax 011.343.308.2114

Señior Wolfgang Hartmann

The working remnants of the Bauer foundry.
Michael Babcock

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9.2 What are sources for press rollers?

Brown Regrinding; Plymouth, MN. 763 553 1461
Precision Rollers, Indian Orchard, Mass. 800 418 0004
Akorn Rollers, Chicago 773 254 5700

NA Graphics
P.O. Box 467
Silverton, Colorado 81433
Phone (970) 387-0212
Fax (970) 387-0127

Bingham can be reached at 800 926 7655. Their web address is www.binghamrollers.com .

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9.3 Who still sells thermographic powder?

Thermographic Powder is available in 1 lb.packages from NA Graphics, P.O. Box 467, Silverton, CO 81433, Phone 970/387-0212, FAX 970/387-0127

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9.4 How do I find a good bookbinder?

For the price of a phone call you can call the Metropolitan Binders Assoc @212-629-3232 and receive a Post-press finishing guide which lists over 100 post-press finishers, including binders, most on the east coast.
We have high regard for Campbell-Logan (http://www.campbell-logan.com/), but I think they are expensive. They have been the highbidders on our last two projects. We recommended Bassil Book Binders in NJ 201-343-4103. Very good quality at reasonable prices.
And most important they are easy to work with.
Odaddyo@AOL.COM

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9.5 What are sources for chases?

Try Dave Churchman for you chase. He has all sizes. His Phone no. is 317/849-5665, FAX 849-1616.
Harold Sterne <halsterne@msn.com>

Also, Letterpress Things is a veritable "Walmart" for the letterpress printer. There is more information at www.letterpressthings.com, or call John Barrett at (413) 222-9029.

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10 Resources on the Web

10.1 Museum and Reference Sites?

Paul Moxon has an excellent site for Vandercook press owners and fans at vandercookpress.info.

The Typophiles have their own site at www.typophiles.org, displaying their history, some bibliographic information, and other related info on typography and book making.

The South Street Seaport has recreated Bowne & Company as a working letterpress shop in the 19th century, at http://www.southstreetseaportmuseum.org/category-s/1878.htm.

America's largest museum of printing is at the Museum of Printing, in North Andover, Massachusetts. (www.museumofprinting.org).

The Briar Press has an excellent online museum of presses at http://www.briarpress.org.

Melbourne Museum of Printing Australia's working and teaching museum of typography and printing located at Footscray, Victoria (on the web at http://home.vicnet.net.au/~typo/welcom2.htm. Specialising in retention of letterpress, both the equipment and the knowledge.

Check out the Miniature Book Society at http://www.mbs.org.

Matt T. Roberts and Don Etherington have created an excellent Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology for bookbinding and the conservation of books at http://palimpsest.stanford.edu/don/don.html.


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10.2 Printing Industry?

http://printerspart.com/index.shtml

[Back to Table of Contents]   [Back to Section 10 questions]


10.3 Where are some good references for digital type information?

P22 Inc.
[T-26]
Shift:Center
LettError Type&Typography
The Hoefler Type Foundry
Garage Fonts Virtual Garage
The Font Bureau, Inc.
fontBoy fonts
Fonts.com - home of Monotype Imaging
FontFontFinder
Emigre Home



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Updated Fri Jan 3 10:00:32 2014
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