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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The "Visit To The Newseum: Part 2 - The Equipment" Story

Part of the Newseum at the Lancaster Newspaper building.
It was an ordinary day.  Walking past piece after piece of equipment that at one time in the history of the Lancaster Newspaper was used to produce the daily, as well as Sunday, newspaper.  The process used today to print the paper is so much different than what is shown in the Newseum, but the purpose of the Newseum is to show the printing processes that existed before the advent of our current technology.  I hope I have helped you to understand what had to be done in order to produce the newspaper during much of my, and possibly your, lifetime.  I still run the offset press for the school district where I once taught Graphic Arts and Photography and realize that the equipment I run is light years behind how it is now produced.  The Newseum follows the printing procedure from hand-set type to what is known as the Di-Litho technique which they used starting in the mid-1970s.  Since then there have been a few more generations of printing techniques, but these are not included in the Newseum.  History is amazing!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

My tour guide, Nathan, standing in the Newseum.
The Washington Press No. 5 was used to print the Lancaster Journal in 1929.  It is an iron press that operated much the same as the Franklin Press, but with all metal parts instead of wooden.  Two men could print 150 copies of the four-page newspaper in an hour which was twice as fast as on the Franklin Press.  The Washington Press was patented by Samuel Rust of New York in 1821.
This is a cabinet full of California Job Cases which are drawers which hold fonts of metal type.  Originally the drawers will filled with movable wooden type, but later lead replaced the wood on making the pieces of type.  This cabinet looks exactly like the two cabinets that were in my classroom at Manheim Township High School.  Each drawer contained one font of type which may have been 12 point, 14 point, 18 point, etc. and in a particular typeface such as Times Roman.  The person who would set type manually was known as the compositor and had to have the case memorized as to where each letter, piece of punctuation, etc. was stored.  That was one of the first tests I gave my Graphic Arts students.  They had to know the job case in order to set type in a timely manner.  
A closer look at what a type drawer would look like.
This is a proof press.  In order to check to see if the type you set in your composing stick was done correctly and to check for spelling you would make a proof on the proof press. When type is composed, it is done so backwards, so a proof is necessary to make sure you have done it correctly.  The hand-set type would be placed on the bed of the press, inked, paper placed over it, and run through the roller system to take the proof.  Here you can see type sitting on the bed of the proof press.  Click on the photo to enlarge it.  In this case, the type that is being proofed is from a Linotype Machine rather than being handset.  The next photo shows the Linotype machine.
The Linotype machine is used for composing lines of type.  Needless to say it is much faster than doing it by hand.  The Lancaster Newspaper began using them in 1900.  The operator sat in front of the keyboard and typed the copy.  Letters, numbers, spaces, etc., all called matrices, were released as the keys were struck.  The matrices moved along an assembler until a full line of type accumulated.  Molten metal was injected into the procedure and struck the line of type and hardened instantly into a "slug."  All the slugs next to each other formed the story.  They were placed in a metal tray called a galley and taken to the proof press to check for mistakes.  A machine could produce 7 lines of type in a minute.  I received the offer of one of the newspaper 's linotype machines when they were upgrading and it was delivered and placed in my print shop.  My students were so excited to give it a try, until the school's insurer saw it and nixed the idea due to the molten metal.  In the photo above you can see, to the far left about a third of the way down from the top, the silver lead bar that lowers as it is needed to melt and flow into the matrices. 
Here you can see the lines of type that are produced on the Linotype machine.
Here you can see lines of type set in place to form a page in the newspaper.  It weighs several hundred pounds since it is lead.  It is placed in a metal frame called a chase which is the size of a page in the newspaper.  It is sitting on what is called a turtle.  When the page was proofed and ready, it was pushed to the mat roller.
A flexible mat, which was pliable, was placed on top of the type and run through the roller which would take the shape of the page.  It hardened, but was still flexible.  It was placed in a casting box, and a semi-circular lead plate was made from the mat.  This plate was then placed on the press cylinder to print the newspaper. 
This may help you understand what I just said.  Behind the circular metal plate is the mat.  The plate would be attached  a cylinder inked and printed on paper.  What you are looking at, as well as the hand-set type used to print the paper, is called relief printing or printing from a raised surface.  Also known as letterpress printing.
In 1976 Lancaster Newspapers stopped using the letterpress printing process involving the mats and semi-circular lead plates.  It then changed to a new process called Di-Litho where thin metal plates were used.  The plates, as seen here, were wrapped around a cylinder and tightened.  Ink and water were applied to the plates with water spread on the plate and ink applied to it.  The ink would only stick to the areas that had print or photos.  Paper was pressed against the plate to receive the images.  This is different from offset lithography since offset printing uses an additional roller that receives the image and offsets it to the paper.  The plate above has a reversed image which will be right-reading on paper.  In offset, the image right-reading, then transfer to a composition blanket where it is reversed, then onto the paper where it is right-reading once again.  

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