Page 7 - December 2016
P. 7

all begs the question ‘Why?’. In reality,   (threads per inch, etc). These ‘bolt stamps’
       this bizarre craze was a competitive sport.   were the epitome of brass rule work,
                                             surpassing much of the material of which
                                             contemporary letterpress compositors
                                             were so proud. In additional to complex
                                             images, the bolt stamp makers, mainly
                                             based in and around Manchester, also
                                             produced  orid alphabets to rival the most
                                             fussy, over-decorated Tuscans found in
                                             type founders’ specimens of the period.
                                             Individual brass rule alphabet stamps
                                             could be assembled to produce the cotton
                                             mill’s name or maker’s trademarks.
                                             For letterpress compositors, ‘twisting’
                                             was a challenging, time-consuming and
                                             complicated pastime. For the Lancashire
                                             bolt stamp makers it was just another day
                                             at the o  ce.















       It had little practical use in the  eld of
       letterpress, but compositors relished a
       challenge. When ‘twisting’ was at its peak
       there were also typesetting competitions
       with generous cash prizes for those who
       could set the highest number of pica ems
       from handwritten copy in a set amount of
       time.
         Brass rule twisting did have one
       practical application. In Manchester,
       world capital of the cotton trade for much
       of the nineteenth century, and nicknamed
       Cottonopolis, a new trade sprang up. Each
        nished bolt of cloth had to be marked
       with the manufacturer’s name, pattern
       number and sometimes the speci cations
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