Some Trade Recipes, Hints, & Suggestions compiled by Charles Thomas Jacobi, 1891, 2e.
Amongst others, the following suggestions to book-lovers appeared in ‘‘Notes and Queries,’’ of an old date:—
Quicklime is the best thing to save books from the ill effects of damp. A small vessel full of lime placed near a bookcase is better than a blazing fire for this purpose. The lime, which absorbs every particle of moisture in the atmosphere, must be changed every two or three days.
There is not always a clear understanding as to the terms used in connection with the treatment of edges. ‘‘Uncut’’ does not necessarily mean that the edges have not been opened with a knife, but simply that the book has not been cut down by machine, a method which sometimes sadly mars the appearance of a book. The expression ‘‘unopened’’ is perhaps a stricter term to be applied when absolutely untouched. ‘‘Trimmed edges’’ means that the heads have been left untouched, and the fore-edge and tail merely trimmed sufficiently to make them tidy. ‘‘Cut edges’’ means that a portion has been cut from the three sides of the book.
The four sides of a printed page in a book are called head, tail, fore-edge, and back.
These insects are known to be great destroyers of books in the ravages they make upon the bindings. Roaches will not touch books which are varnished with a mixture of one part copal varnish and two parts oil of turpentine. With a large brush paint this over the cloth binding, and let the book stand to dry. It cannot be applied to the edges, unfortunately, but it is something to know that it will save the other parts of the book.
See that they all are upon full-sized slips, no matter whether one galley is a short one or not. If submitted on a short slip, this is the one which is generally lost.
In washing small job formes with benzine after taking proofs, printers find it provokingly easy to scrape the skin off the knuckles while driving the small brush generally used across the forme. One who has tried says that the cause of knuckle barking is the smallness of the brush, and that after taking into use an ordinary boot-blacking brush he saved his skin.
The Composing-Stick was first introduced as a printer's tool in 1480. Previous to this the method of composition was by taking the letters direct from the boxes, and placing them side by side in a coffin made of hard wood, with a stout bottom, and kept tight when completed by means of screws at the foot. A New Composing-Stick has a movable arm which comes at the beginning of the lines, is in two parts, and secured by two screws. By loosening the one which is nearest the matter it can be instantly set for a half or third measure, or for any number of ems, while the moment this ceases to be requisite it can be drawn back till it meets the other part, when it is again at the full measure without a second's loss.
Understand your take fully before leaving the foreman or copy book. Time spent in this way is profitably invested. At least read through the outlines of the job. If pamphlet or book-work, the reading of the first page or two will be sufficient. Formulate your plan of development. Determine upon display lines. Spelling, style of punctuation, capitalizing, and paragraphs, should be according to usage of establishment. If possible, absorb the subject of your take ; it will render work more engaging. As to rapid composition, absolute oblivion to surroundings is essential. Like an actor or orator, you should mentally get inside of the subject ; shut your own other senses, and utilize that only which is necessary to rapidity and correctness. Some have a new sense created by rapid composition, combining mental and physical phenomena, rare and wonderful. As in distributing, stand square on your feet, with chest distended. Hold stick well in front, so as to be in full view of left eye, while the right generally is manipulating movement of picking up letter and reading copy. Type should be grasped with the right hand thumb and forefinger, with a sliding approach, so as to lift with finger and balance with thumb. After catching the word with the eye and mind, concentrate on the immediate letter to be picked up, with an active plunge of the hand toward the box, without the pressure of nerve force if possible ; bring back letter swiftly to stick, striking rule as near as possible to location of word. Seize letter with left thumb and strike out with right hand immediately for next letter. The casting of hand into box, seizing letter without hesitancy, and the withdrawal to stick, should be of same velocity. The movement, physical and mental, generally determines the speed of the compositor. Rapid composition comes from mental anticipation coupled with will power. It can be cultivated.
Every compositor should keep by him, convenient to his right hand, a receptacle for battered letters and wrong founts, and on no account should he throw either into the quad-box, or into some spare box in the upper case. Where the latter plan is adopted, very frequently it turns out that comparatively scarce letters are thrown into it ; whereas were they placed as here suggested, and distributed, say, once a week, much untidiness would be prevented, and the type would all the sooner be brought into use again. There is as much type carelessly hidden away in the quad-boxes of some printing offices as would fit up a small newspaper and jobbing office combined.
The last office I worked in (writes a correspondent of the â€˜â€˜Inland Printerâ€™â€™) was stocked with battered wood type, of course caused by careless handling on the press; broken tapes, dirt, and an occasional falling out of one of the feed guides on to the forme while in motion had caused the trouble, and it was impossible to do good work with such an outfit. I tried filling up the depressions with sawdust and glue, beeswax, etc., but the result was not satisfactory. I determined to conquer the difficulty, and, after devoting considerable thought to the matter, I mixed some warm glue with Spanish whiting, and, after cleaning out the depressions well, and in some instances deepening them in order to give the preparation a good chance to hold, I plastered the defects over with the mixture while warm. I put sufficient on to thoroughly fill -all depressions, not being careful to get a smooth surface. After it became hard I filed it down close to the letter, avoiding scratching the even surface of the letter, and then treated it to a good rubbing with an oil-stone, using oil, and the result was a polished surface as good, if not superior, to the wood itself; and, as I rubbed down the plaster even with the surface of the letter, the printing failed to show any defects whatever. Even the planer did not damage it, and I felt much elated in overcoming the difficulty.
It has been said, ‘‘Never show a rough proof to a foolish client.’’ We would go much farther — never show a rough proof to any client. Printers lose far more than they have any idea by showing rough proofs. To begin with, the client is disgusted, and first impressions [the pun forced its way in uninvited] are everything. It is no use saying, ‘‘This is only a rough proof,’’ because for any meaning it conveys you may as well say ‘‘Abracadabra folderiddlelol.’’ A client has been known to take a rough proof and show it round amongst his friends as a specimen of so-and-so’s printing. There are successful printers who at an early stage of their career grasped the force of what we advance. From the first they got out their proofs in a workmanlike manner on good paper, and great has been their reward.
A well-made true chase is absolutely necessary for good printing, and will save much worry, and in the long run much money. A roughly-made chase, welded in the corners, the lumpiness of its inside surfaces merely scratched down with a coarse file without reference to smoothness or squareness, is a very expensive article in a printing office, even though it cost nothing at all. It throws type off its feet, so that it looks badly in print and wears out rapidly. It is extremely liable to pie formes, and one pied forme costs more than two good formes. A poor chase just as it comes from the forge will cost less than one finished by the most perfect machinery ; but a fine machine-finished chase will cost a great deal less than one finished by hand, and have a uniformity the hand-finish cannot approach. Like almost all kinds of printers' machinery, the best is the cheapest.
One of the most disreputable combinations in a composing room is the water jug and its sponge. Generally it is a beer jug with its handle broken, or a beer can with the handle off, to hold the water, and for a sponge in hundreds of cases, a lump of paper. Such articles do not tend to raise the tone of the workmen, neither do they show the manager in a very good light, as he is responsible for every detail. A man to rule comps. must have the eye of a hawk, and an almost despotic will, otherwise he will find himself simply the manager by name. Comps. are extremely shrewd, and if an advantage can be taken, such as coming in late, leaving cases on frames, cutting leads and brass at will, etc., they are sure to do so, and the only one to blame is he who lets them perpetuate an error.
Printersâ€™ cases should always be selected with a view to accommodating their type in the most accessible manner, and without crowding. Delicate faces, like scripts, should never be laid in cap cases, or crowded into the boxes, nor should founts without lower case be laid in italic cases. Never lay two founts of type in the same boxes. The time wasted in setting it out is soon enough to pay for another case. Use cap or triple cases for all-cap founts, according to their size, and do not under any circumstances lay delicate faces with heavy type. Never crowd type together. It is not only disastrous to the faces, but is a loss of time in setting. Every printing office should have, as a part of its regular quota of cases, a figure-case for extra figures, a space and quad case containing all sizes for spacing job work and advertisements, and blank cases for cuts, etc. These are no luxuries, but the best of investments, and any printer who purchases them will find that he is amply repaid in a short time. "A place for everything, and everything in its place,â€™â€™ applies with greater force to a printing office than any other line of business in the world. It is made up of numberless articles and appliances, any one of which is liable to be called into use at a moment's notice. The most perishable and costly portion, with the exception of fine type, are the cuts and electros. They should, therefore, be given a safe and convenient place of storage. The blank, cases, which will fit into any frame, are the cheapest for this purpose.
When using black ink on a tinted ground, or on coloured paper, it is necessary to observe, that the black changes colour in many instances, or loses its intensity. Printed on a blue ground, its strength and power are lost ; on red, it appears dark green ; on orange, it takes a slightly blue hue; on yellow, it turns to violet; on violet, it has a green-yellow shade ; and on green, it appears as a reddish grey. Printers should take heed of these peculiarities of black, or they may find their work worthless when done.
Take half an ounce of camphor, dissolve in one pound of melted lard; take off the scum and mix in as much fine blacklead as will give it an iron colour. Clean the machinery and smear with this mixture. After twenty-four hours rub clean with a soft linen cloth. It will keep clean for months under ordinary circumstances.
Book-printers gave up damp paper reluctantly. For the new method of printing dry compelled them to give up the woollen blanket which had been used between the paper and the pressing surface as the equalizer of impression ever since the invention of printing. That such an elastic medium was needed when types where old or of unequal height, or when the pressed and pressing surface of the press could not be kept in true parallel, needs no explanation; but the use of an elastic printing-surface was continued long after these faults had been corrected. The soft blanket, or the India-rubber cloth, often used in place of it, made an uncertain impression, which either thickened the fine lines of a cut, or made them ragged and spotty. It would have been useless to get smooth paper if the pressing surface behind the paper could be made uneven. To get a pure impression it was necessary to resort not only to the engravers’ method of proving on dry paper, but to his method of proving with a hard, inelastic pressing-surface. A substance was needed which could be pressed with great force, without making indentation, on the surface of the cut, and on the surface only. This substance was found in mill-glazed ‘‘pressboard,’’ a thin, tough card, harder than wood, and smooth as glass, which enabled the pressman to produce prints with the pure, clean lines of the engraver’s proof. Old-fashioned pressmen prophesied that the hard printing-surface would soon crush type and cuts; but experience has proved that, when skilfully done, this hard impression wears types and cuts less than the elastic blanket.
Printing ink appears, when on white paper, blacker and colder than on tinted paper ; while on yellow or tinted paper it appears pale and without density. For taking printing ink most perfectly, a paper should be chosen that is free from wood in its composition, and, at the same time, one that is not too strongly glazed. Wood paper is said to injure the ink through the nature of its composition. Its materials are very absorbent of light and air, and its ingredients go badly with colour. Pale glazed or enamelled paper, on the other hand, brings out colour brilliantly.
This is sometimes necessary to avoid the ‘‘wiping’’ of the roller on the extreme edges of the type, which causes an excess of ink on the part where the rollers pass over any opening between the pages of the forme. In order to get over this difficulty, thick card, or even pieces of leather, may be used as packing; the length should be a little more than the opening to which they are placed opposite. Let the extreme edges be bevelled off so that the rollers will run over without jumping. The exact height will be determined by experience, but generally a sixth or an eighth of an inch in thickness is sufficient.
Try printing once with varnish and twice with red if an intense colour is desired. We have not tried it, but the Berlin Typographical Society says it will accomplish its purpose.
Much time is often lost in guesswork. Ascertain the correct margin at the head of job, and mark the correct distance on the platen. Get a straight edge, square it from some line in the forme to the margin mark, and draw a pencil line across platen sheet. Apply your gauges and you cannot help getting them straight first time.
If your forme slurs, try the following remedies, until you strike the right one:—
Do not try to correct the faults of hurried making-ready by a weak impression, and by carrying an excess of ink to hide the weakness. Excess of ink fouls the rollers, clogs the type, and makes the printed work smear or set off. A good print cannot be had when the impression is so weak that the paper barely touches the ink on the types and is not pressed against the types. There must be force enough to transfer the ink not only on to the paper, but into the paper. A firm impression should be had, even if the paper be indented. The amount of impression required will largely depend on the making-ready. With careful making-ready, impression may be light ; roughly and hurriedly done, it must be hard. Indentation is evidence of wear of type. The spring and resulting friction of an elastic impression surface is most felt where there is least resistance â€” at the upper and lower ends of lines of type, where they begin to round off. It follows that the saving of time that may be gained by hurried and rough making-ready must be offset by an increased wear of type That impression is best for preventing wear of type which is confined to its surface and never laps over its edges. But this perfect surface impression is possible only on a large forme with new type, sound, hard packing, and ample time for making-ready. If types are worn, the indentation of the paper by impression cannot be entirely prevented. Good presswork does not depend entirely upon the press or machine, neither on the workman, nor on the materials. Nor will superiority in any one point compensate for deficiency in another : new type will suffer from a poor roller, and careful making-ready is thrown away if poor ink be used. It is necessary that ail the materials shall be good, that they should be adapted to each other and fitly used. A good workman can do much with poor materials, but a neglect to comply with one condition often produces as bad a result as the neglect of all.
In working brass rule formes, to prevent as much as possible the rollers from being cut, place broad wood rules inside the chases, so as to act as bearers for the rollers the whole length of the forme. The ends should be rounded or tapered, in order to prevent damage to the rollers when rising on to them. They should be longer than the formes, and must be placed exactly parallel with each other. For open or light matter this will be found an excellent plan, as the inking will be more even than when rollers are left to bump over the matter. Strips of paper must be fastened to the cylinder or platen for these rules to work on, and should be changed as required. Wood rules should be kept specially for this class of work.
Supposing you wish to trim a circular label quite close to the inclosing rule : Get some steel cutting rule, and with the help of a curving machine first bend a lead so as to fit the rule closely ; then bend your cutting-rule to fit around the lead, leaving a very small space (say one-sixteenth of an inch) between the ends; when fixed put your forme on the press ; use a hard tympan (Bristol board is good), and after making ready put an overlay of cardboard over your cutting-rule. You will find that the next impression will print your label and at the same time cut it smoothly and neatly from the sheet, except where the space comes between the ends of the rule. This small uncut space serves to pull the sheet from the type, and if the sheets are fed accurately they may be knocked up straight and square and the paper cutter used to separate the narrow uncut space, or a thin chisel may be pushed through the pile. If these directions are followed labels of any shape can be printed with narrow or wide margins, of uniform width all round, and without waste of time. On odd shapes, where the cutting-rule has to be fitted in sections, it is best to use the soldering iron to keep them in place. The same device may be used to cut cards to odd shapes by fitting the rule to the shape desired, and running cards through the press without rollers.
The anointing of leather belting with castor oil will prevent its being gnawed by rats.
In ornate typography red is growing in favour, and the tendency is to work in heavy masses of it. To produce a striking effect more red is required than black. A recent number of the ‘‘Art Age,’’ in an elaborate review of the use of red ink, says, among other pertinent things, that the mistake most frequently made is in introducing red inappropriately in masses where it is neither ornamental nor part of the general composition. To put it plainer, there is an increasing disposition on the part of printers who have a laudable desire to be progressive to use great masses of red merely for the sake of obtaining a glaring effect. In a circular of a recent sale of paintings this tendency was strikingly shown. A pretty red initial would have set off every page handsomely, but to the one ornate crimson letter was added an ugly, blotchy, fiery red head and tail-piece that, instead of rendering the red attractive, made it positively repulsive to the eye. No compositor of any taste or judgment would have overloaded a page with an ornamental initial and a head and tail-piece, nor would the man who designed the circular in question have ventured upon such an overweighted design but for the simple sake of introducing plenty of red. A single line of red in a page of Gothic produces a highly attractive effect. One heavy letter or line of red in a page is pleasing to the eye ; any further addition of red in mass becomes a positive blemish which repels.
Someone writes:— In working cardboard on a small drum cylinder, I am troubled by a slur on the last line, caused by the stiffness of the board, which prevents it from conforming readily to the curve of the cylinder, so that, as the impression ceases, the sheet flies out flat, making the job look dirty on the edge. I have obviated this by passing cords around the cylinder, fastening one end to the rod which holds the paper bands, and the other to be braced against, which the fly strikes, the sheet moving under the cords while being printed ; but is there no better way? Answer.— Take one or more pins, according to the size of the job, cut them off', so as to make them type high, or a fraction over, which place in the furniture, so as to catch the end of the cardboard, and the slurring referred to will be prevented.
There are few mechanical occupations where the need of good light is so imperative as in a printing office. There are so many small details that have to be seen to, whether it be in composition or presswork. Defective light of any kind greatly impairs the efficiency of every man compelled to labour in it. In this respect, it is very poor economy to locate a printing office in a room or rooms where the amplest light cannot be obtained, or to use a poor light. The best of oils and gas are poor substitutes for daylight, and besides, they cost more money. Too vivid a light can be shut off by screens or curtains ; but none of us can evoke the sunshine at will, or lengthen the day at either end. The continual burning of gas all day, as observed in some printing offices, is wasteful indeed, and the extra expense it entails, directly or indirectly, would go a good way towards paying a higher rent for better lighted quarters.
Many printers’compositors especially—whose hands have become rough and tough will be glad of hints how they can keep them in good condition. A little ammonia or borax in the water used to wash the hands with, and that water just lukewarm, will keep the skin clean and soft. A little oatmeal mixed with the water will whiten the hands. Many people use glycerine on their hands when they go to bed, wearing gloves to keep the bedding clean ; but glycerine makes some skins harsh and red. These people should rub their hands with dry oatmeal and wear gloves in bed. The best preparation for the hands at night is white of egg, with a grain of alum dissolved in it. The roughest and hardest hands can be made soft and white in a month's time by doctoring them a little at bedtime ; all the tools you need are a nailbrush, a bottle of ammonia, a box of powdered borax, and a little fine white sand to rub the stains off, or a cut of lemon, which will do even better, for the acid of the lemon will clean anything. There is no reason why a man should have hard and rough hands if with a little care he can have them soft and smooth. The hands are likely to be more dexterous if the skin is always pliable.
A belt travelling 800 feet per minute will safely transmit one horse-power for each inch in width if the pulleys are both of the same diameter, and the belt laps over one half of each ; but if the belt laps on but one quarter of either pulley's circumference, then it would have to travel 1,230 feet per minute to transmit a horse-power for each inch in width.
The ‘‘character and’’ or ‘‘short and" as it is known among printers, has the above title in the dictionaries, where it is said to be ‘‘a corruption of and, per se and, i.e. and, by itself and.’’ It was originally formed—as may be seen in some old-style italic founts of to-day—of a combination of the capitals E and T, making the French and Latin word ‘‘et,’’ signifying ‘‘and.’’ Its only use is in connecting firm and corporation names, in &c., and it is sometimes permitted in display lines where the whole word cannot be inserted. Its use in any other case is obviously improper. Yet Smith, in his day, mourned that the contraction & was obliged to yield and to suffer ‘‘its comely form’’ to be supplied by the single letters e and t. In a French history of printing, published in 1740, the character & is used for et in every instance except where beginning a sentence. In giving the order of the lowercase sorts, Smith places the & between e and f.
The origin of the word ‘‘wayzgoose’’ is not generally known. On the authority of Bailey the signification of the term is a ‘‘stubble-goose.’’ Moxon, writing in 1683, gives an early example of its use in connection with the annual dinners of the printers of that time. He says:— ‘‘It is also customary for all the Journeymen to make every Year new Paper Windows, whether the old ones will serve again or no; Because, that day, they make them the Master Printer give them a Way-goose; that is, he makes them a good Feast, and not only entertains them at his own House, but, besides, gives them money to spend at the Alehouse or Tavern at Night; and to this Feast they invite the Corrector, Founder, Smith, Joyner, and Inkmaker, who all of them severally (except the Corrector in his own Civility) open their Pursestrings and add their Benevolence (which Workmen account their duty, because they generally chuse these Workmen) to the Master Printer : But from the Corrector they expect nothing, because, the Master Printer chusing him, the Workmen can do him no kindness. These Way-goose are always kept about Bartholomew-tide. And till the Master Printer hath given this Way-goose the journeymen do not chuse to work by Candle-Light.’’ Other authors have quoted Moxon on the above, adding, however, riders of their own composition, more fully explaining the meaning of the term. Thus Timperley, writing in 1839, in a footnote, says:â€” â€˜â€˜The derivation of this term is not generally known. It is from an old English word Wayz, stubble. A stubble-goose is a known dainty in our days. A wayz-goose was the head dish at the annual feasts of the forefathers of our fraternity. From this it would appear that the original derivation was from the goose which occupied the place of honour at the dinner, and not, as some have striven to show, from the excursion which usually forms part of their festival.’’
The use of this fly-title, sometimes called a bastard title, is for the purpose of protecting the general or full title from injury. Without this additional leaf in front, the title-page, being the first in the book, would be very likely to get soiled.
This trade term originated in Italy. Aldus Manutius was a printer in Venice. He owned a negro boy, who helped him in his office; and some of his customers were superstitious enough to believe that the boy was an emissary of Satan. He was known all over the city as ‘‘the little black devil,’’ from his dirty appearance, as his face and hands were generally well smudged with printing ink. Desiring to satisfy the curiosity of his patrons, Manutius one day exhibited the boy in the streets, and proclaimed as follows: ‘‘I, Aldus Manutius, Printer to the Holy Church and the Doge, have this day made public exposure of the Printers’ Devil. All who think he is not flesh and blood may come and prick him!’’
When verdigris gathers on the face of brass rule, and it won’t print sharp, take a little diluted oxalic acid and wash the face—never scrape it with a knife.
To the items of paper, composition, proof-reading, presswork, etc., add for rent and expenses, and interest upon investment in type, presses, etc., upon each job you do, 20%. This will give you about the dead cost. Now, if you want a profit, add one-third to the total, and in some cases one-half.
A method of restoring damaged wood-engravings has been recommended. Remove all ink from the damaged part, moisten thoroughly with a solution of potash, and dry the wood again by blowing upon it for several minutes the smoke from a cigar. It is said that an engraving thus treated resumes its former state and may be at once used to print from.
The following proportions are generally used:—
When electrotypes are out of use and require to be stored, they should be kept in a dry place, and the surface of the plates should be oiled in order to prevent verdigris. When they become clogged with hard, dry ink, which the pick-brush and turps fail to remove, they may be cleaned and made equal to new in a few minutes by covering their surface with a little creosote, and afterwards brushing the surface with turps.
By reason of the paste used for sticking together the different sheets, it is found that paper matrices or moulds are frequently injured by mice. Risks of this nature can be obviated by mixing with the paste some bitter substance, picric acid being especially recommended for the purpose. Mice will never touch paste that has been thus treated.
Break an egg and pour a little of the albumen on the block, and then thoroughly rub it in. It does not sink into the wood. This preparation, which is kept on the surface all the time, is as follows:— gelatine, ten grains ; albumen, one ounce ; water, one half-ounce. Rub this well in with the palm of the hand or a brush—the hand preferred ; after this preliminary coating put on a little photina preparation, which is also to be well rubbed in. In five minutes a print from a negative can be taken on this block in the sun ; or by the electric light in about three minutes. The process gives good black tones, like those obtained in platinum prints.
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