Lard Up Your Rollers!
The world of printing has experienced a lot of change in my lifetime. I used to think that it was not possible that printing could have ever undergone as much change in any other point of history. Then I stumbled upon a book published in 1911. It was written to explain the best operating practices for the “modern” print shop.
As I glanced through the pages, much of what I was seeing was not even recognizable to me. The publication contained hundreds of terms I have never heard of or utilized in my 35 years as a printer. For instance, I have never used a Hempel quoin. I have also never used Lakotine, shoefly fingers, jack screws, em quads, friskets, or M-Q tubes. I have never phated, ponied, casted-up, page-corded, or veloxed. And, to the best of my knowledge, I have never sanded my match scratchers.
What follows here are excerpts from the book which I hope you will enjoy as much as I did.
- The contemporary printer should restrict font usage to the six most well-known fonts: Pabst, Powel, Dorsey, McFarland, Chelenham and Kenilworth. I have spoken to a Mr. Linden from Denver, Colorado, who has produced a comprehensive portfolio of high-grade specimens of commercial printing utilizing only two font styles: Caslon and Caslon Italic. It is extravagant and wasteful to invest in anything more than a general class of utility letters.
- Hundreds of men are poor printers because they are unfitted for the business, and they are unsuccessful in life because someone failed to tell them to quit years ago and take up black-smithing.
- No boy under 16 years of age should enter work in a print shop. Young boys are too eager. Eagerness without thinking can result in poor work habits. These habits will linger as impediments to effective print production during his life as a printer. The most famous of printers are carefully and strictly indentured. They have served their time in strict accordance to a prescribed system of instruction.
- Eugene, a well-known pressman with extensive knowledge and unlimited experience, correctly advises that the printing press should not be run faster than one-thousand impressions per hour.
- In printing, there will always be a considerable demand for men who are able to plan out work for those who are less competent.
- Those who fail to understand the importance of an educated proof reader with years of commercial printing experience are misguided and utterly incompetent.
- A good supervisor will heap down wrath upon the production room in any case of extreme carelessness.
- Brains are not alone necessary to the adequate equipment of an efficient press room.
- In most shops, proofreading is labor performed by boys, but, in many larger offices throughout the Union, girls or young women are thus employed. A girl is more apt to catch an omission or an error and can oft be employed at beginner’s wages.
- The paper inventory should be always adequately stocked with sheets in the following sizes: 6x9˝, 8.5x 11˝, 8.5x14˝ and 14x 17˝.
- It is recommended a series of labeled boxes be attached to the rear of the foreman’s desk for inestimable convenience.
- Press rollers become as useless for printing purposes as a common garden hose if they are comprised without sugar, molasses, glucose or saccharine. If comprising your own rollers, roller-composition can be purchased in cakes.
- Experience has demonstrated that the best wash for printers’ rollers is gasoline. Lye can be used in extreme cases. This is the thorough method.
- It is well known that continuous exposure to the atmosphere is most detrimental to printers’ rollers. A fresh consignment of rollers from the factory should always arrive covered in lard. If this is not the case, lard should be applied as soon as the new rollers arrive.
- The habit of washing up rollers before leaving work for the evening is highly discouraged. It is best to leave ink on the press until the morrow.
- The common habit of jamming an old piece of a dirty rag into a half-used ink can in order to prevent skinning tends to degrade delicate ink colors
- If you use paste to create overlays, the paste should be free from lumps. To smooth the paste, press down on it with a book. Two books are better than one.
- An important step in the advancement of printing is the declining use of glossy paper.
- On certain papers, ink may take hold with great difficulty and tend to dry slowly. This trouble may be remedied by printing the impression a second time over the first impression. This will allow the ink to dry within a few hours.
- When ink is too stiff to print with, it can be effective to add a little lard to it. It also helps to adjust the heat in the pressroom to a higher temperature.
- Some pressmen add a very small quantity of light green into process blue in order to bring it into a more proper tone.
- A printer with a keen perception of color harmony would consider red and green a poor color scheme. These two colors are clearly not in harmony with one another. A more excellent choice would be brown and green as long as they are separated from each other and do not touch.
- A superintendent must effectively apply just the right amount of order to the shop. Lack of system is dangerous to success and too much system is likely to entail a millstone of red tape. The safe and sane position is to eliminate any processes which are not absolutely necessary. It is unprofitable to burden the workman with too much system.
- The preferred vehicle for conveyance of work from the business office to the production room is the job ticket. The best device for this purpose, and one which has given complete satisfaction to the model plant, is a commodious envelope measuring 10x12˝. The job envelope answers well as a perfect substitute for a myriad of ultra-clever devices constantly emanating from the brains of those who earnestly advocate for too much system.
- A great deal has been said recently concerning methods of proofing. Sending press proofs showing exact colors is expensive and time consuming. A better plan, and one practiced by a great many successful printers, is to show all proofs in black ink.
- If you have completed your work in a finished and exemplary manner do not tolerate a setback through the practice of slovenly methods in your shipping room.
- We are in a period of attractive wrappers and cartoon packaging. The outer covering of a commodity has greater selling force than the quality of the article itself. Even the printer may derive some benefit by improving the outer appearance of the consignments from his shipping room. The foremost printers of the country long ago abandoned slovenly methods of delivery.
- It is well to adopt some distinguishing “shop” color for all boxes, wrappers, envelopes and special enclosures. Even the twine and wrapping cord should be in color-harmony with the package. Your customers should be able to recognize the packages that come from your house at a glance and the impression thus created will become a real asset from an advertising standpoint. Likewise, do not slight your labels and shipping tags. Remember, always, that it is impression that counts in everything now-a-days. Your tags and labels should be the best that your artistic skill can produce. Special engravings and printing in several colors are by no means extravagant ventures when applied to the improvement of packages for shipment.
- Above all, do not neglect the importance of fresh paint on your delivery wagon.
Dwayne Magee is now in his 15th year as director of Messiah College Press and Postal Services. His department was recipient of the 2018 IPMA Organizational Impact Award, the 2015 IPMA Innovation Award, the 2017 ACUP Green Service Award, and the 2015 ACUP Collaborative Service Award. Prior to joining Messiah, he worked for 17 years at Alphagraphics as an assistant manager and ISO coordinator. He is president of the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He is currently an English major (part-time) with a concentration in writing at the college where he works. Outside of work, Dwayne enjoys exploring spiritual, environmental and social concerns through creative writing and the arts. He can often be found speaking on the topic of diversity in bookstores, public libraries and elementary schools, where he makes use of his award-winning children’s book “A Blue-Footed Booby Named Solly McBoo.” His travel writing and fictional essays have made appearances in various publications including the Northern Colorado Writers Anthology and the Goose River Anthology published by Goose River Press. Dwayne is the father of two boys (age 24 and 20) and he resides in Mechanicsburg, Pa., with his wife Sue and their two dogs. Contact him at: DMagee@Messiah.edu