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Further Experiments In The Art Of Stereotyping

( Originally Published 1927 )

An improvement on the wet mat stereotyping process embodying an idea of using dry material was made in 1863 by ALFRED VINCENT NEWTON, an English mechanical draughtsman. He was granted a patent for "an improved mode of and apparatus for producing stereotype plates." His application first describes the prevailing process as consisting of several sheets of glued paper, beaten in with a brush while moist, then heated to dry; in his improved process the molding material used in soft paper or dry pulp of such thickness that under pressure a sufficient depth will be ensured to hollows or counters to produce a good casting. To obtain the mold a sheet of dry paper or paper pulp of soft or spongy character is laid on the form of type to be copied and upon the layer of paper a sheet of steel or brass or India rubber is placed and the whole is passed between pressing rollers which may be covered with rubber. A matrix is thus produced and from it a stereotype plate is obtained in much less time than by the old wet mat process.

ALFRED LEIGHTON, a color printer in London, took out a patent in 1864 for improvements in the construction, manufacture of printing surfaces in relief. The novelty of his invention consisted in the fact that these surfaces were elastic, being made of an india-rubber compound and vulcanized in the molds.

A celluloid process of stereotyping was invented by a Frenchman, M. JANNIN, in 1880, as a substitute for metal in the casting of plates. The composition had the same consistency as putty. The mixture is spread upon a thin iron plate to a thickness of 3/8", and a piece of blotting paper is pressed over the whole to absorb the superfluous glycerine. This is then placed on the type face downward; subjecting same to gentle pressure in a press, and applying a slight heat to the iron plate. After about 4 minutes the composition is hardened and lifted from the form. Now a hot press, (steamtable) is necessary. The matrix now being ready to take casts from, is laid upon the table of a hot press, (steam-table) and a piece of celluloid of the same size on the top. The head of the press is heated by steam, screwed down on the celluloid which is thus softened. Great pressure is applied whereby the celluloid is forced into every part of the matrix whereupon cold water is admitted into the press, hardening the celluloid. Then the cast is easily removed from the matrix and trimmed, and is immediately ready for use. This operation of this process took a little less time than the papier-mache method, but it was in actual practice for only a short time, then it was discarded and forgotten.

A further application of the art of stereotyping which, while it did not involve any new invention or any appreciable modification of the wet mat stereotyping method, greatly enlarged the scope of the stereotyping business was the introduction of the so-called auxiliary newspaper or syndicate service. News matter was made up in a central office, casts taken and the plates thus made sent to various newspapers throughout the country. They thereby did not need to go to the expense of original type-setting of the material submitted. In 1858 Messrs. ISAAC HEYES and SAMUEL HARRISON of Sheffield, England, started this business on a large scale and supplied a great number of newspapers with stereotype columns. Later on, the heavy casts were not sent out any more, but the matter was molded on paper mats and these sent out.

During the Mexican war, when President Polk's message to Congress was released to the newspapers, ANDREW JACK-SON AIKENS of Vermont requested a Boston paper which had already set up the message in type, to send him a number of impressions. Aiken then filled in the blank sides of these sheets with local news. This was the first attempt made in America in ready-print service. In 1851 HAGEDORN BROTHERS, publishers of the "Staten Islander", received ready-print from the New York "Sun". Thereupon in 1861 ATWOOD and RUBLEE of the "Madison Daily Journal" started a ready-print service to a number of affiliated papers, thereby constituting the first commercial auxiliary newspaper service. In 1865 ANSEL N. KELLOGG of Chicago was the first in America to supply ready-print as an independent industry. To quote Elmo Scott Watson, "in November, 1875, the American Printers' Warehouse, controlled by the George P. Rowell and Company Advertising agency, announced a new process of stereotyping and began offering more timely matter in this service in the form of a New York news letter in addition to such feature material as wit and humor, agricultural, general religious news, home circle, short sketches and miscellany."

The introduction of stereotype plates into the auxiliary plan met with some of the prejudice encountered by ready print at its inception. Publishers who had been suspicious of the use of ready print were also opposed to plate matter for no reason apparently except a sense of consistency in opposing all innovations in their craft. For those with the "all-homeprint" fetish, it meant adding another word to their vocabulary of scorn for users of auxiliary service. "Boiler plate", they called it, with the same derogatory imputation as that conveyed by the term "patent insides", and editors who filled up their papers with plate matter cut to fill their needs were said to "edit their papers with a saw."

In 1880 the WESTERN NEWSPAPER UNION was founded by George A. Joslyn, (in 1923 this institution had 14,273 customers on its books). Other important present day syndicate concerns are: Central Press Association, Chicago Tribune Newspaper Syndicate, Johnson Feature Syndicate, King Features Syndicate, International Syndicate, Ledger Syndicate, Metropolitan Newspaper Service, McClure Newspaper Syndicate, Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA), New York World Syndicate, Universal Feature Service (Hearst).

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