Page 4 - July 2017
P. 4

|  Every Little Helps |                             |  John Easson  (2959)  |


       I                                     at the least, very helpful. So here is my
         have a copy of printing supplier
                                             guide to what I would suggest every small
         Excelsior’s 1924 catalogue (well, section
         1 of it; I imagine section 2 was possibly
       stationery), and in it they advertise several   letterpress printer should consider having
                                             in their workshop, or at least available.
       ‘complete Printing Outfi ts’, for letterpress     To start with that 1924 list, it includes
       of course, aimed at ‘the complete novice’   the obviously essentials: composing stick
       and including everything needed for   (pretty well essential if you are serious);
       printing. These outfi ts are fairly typical   galley, tweezers, type brush; and the less
       of ones supplied by several fi rms from   crucial which a little ingenuity can replace:
       Stephenson Blake (aimed at schools) to   gauge pins and setting rules. It also
       Adana, and what intrigues me is what   includes the traditional mallet and planer,
       ‘sundries’ they do and don’t include that   a bodkin, a hand roller and a ‘sheep’s foot’
                                             shooting stick. (This latter is not the kind
                                             you sit on, it was a forked-end metal pin
                                             used with the mallet to hammer tight the
                                             wooden wedges used as quoins that were
                                             cheaper to supply than metal quoins with
                                             a key.)
                                               I’m sure every printer has their own
                                             list of favourite necessities they keep to
                                             hand in the printshop. What I have noticed
                                             is that mine doesn’t include several
                                             items that traditionally were expected,
                                             and that I’ve added several found useful
                                             from experience. When I give advice to
                                             new letterpress printers I draw from my
                                             own list, and suggest they start with the
                                             minimum of specially-bought items until
                                             they acquire some experience, but try
                                             to be aware of what is available so they
                                             know what help they can get if needed.
                                             So here is my list of printers’ sundries, and
                                             comments on why I think they can be, or
                                             may not be, useful.
                                               Items worth having to hand
                                             1: Composing Stick. This has to be rated
                                             as essential. You must have this, if nothing
                                             else, in order to set type accurately to
                                             length, and at all easily. As sticks can be
         Shooting stick, rat-tail fi le, tweezers &   found relatively easily, I see no excuse
                    pick brush
                                             for not having one. Sticks come in various
       help the printer in their workshop. Over   sizes to suit the work being done, and
       the years I have found some commonly-  some come with a 12pt em scale marked,
       mentioned items of no real use, and quite   which is handy. However, don’t use the
       a few others pretty well invaluable or   scale to set the stick measure, it’s not
       152
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