Page 8 - May 2017
P. 8

|  The Story of Soldans |                                  |  Continued  |


         Bill Soldan, Otto’s son, left school in   Fleet Street), the home of the London
       1914 and joined the family fi rm, unaware   School of Photoengraving, but he joined
       that the business would soon be shut   the army as soon as he was old enough.
       down. He spent three years learning   By the time he was demobbed in 1918, his
       the commercial side of the operation,   family fi rm had ceased to exist, shut down
       together with gaining technical skills. He   by the British Government.
       worked alongside a skilled compositor     By 1918, Bill’s father no longer
       who produced the display material     had suffi  cient capital to restart the
                                                   business and his son was too
                                                   inexperienced to relaunch the
                                                   company alone, so they took
                                                   a succession of routine jobs
                                                   with printing supply fi rms,
                                                   mainly dealing with imports.
                                                   In 1924, following a succession
                                                   of unsatisfactory positions, Bill
                                                   Soldan and his father took the
                                                   decision to start up the old family
                                                   fi rm again with the aid of just
                                                   one member of staff  – a fi tter/
                                                   engineer who was a jack-of-all-
                                                   trades. Soldans Limited was
                                                   formed in 1924 and the company
                                                   was slowly rebuilt. Attempts
                                                   to obtain agencies for pre-war
                                                   popular German products
                                                   failed, as most companies had
                                                   established new distributors.
                                                   Their only success was with
                                                   the German makers of the
                                                   ‘Lightning’ proof press, who were
                                                   pleased to be doing business with
                                                   the family again. Most of the
                                                   German type-foundries were also
                                                   happy to co-operate.
                                                     The market for regular
                                                   founders type had largely
                                                   disappeared, thanks to the
                                                   popularity of Monotype and
       printed on the ‘Liberty’ platens. The   Linotype, but a niche market was the
       compositor’s name was John Bull and   supply of unusual display faces for
       he was a pacifi st. Bill Soldan agreed with   advertising, and Soldans targeted that
       his principles until the sinking of the   very successfully. Business picked up
       Lusitania in 1915. Bill’s technical training   after Otto Soldan provided letters of
       also involved courses at ‘Bolt Court’ (off    introduction to his old friend Richard
       104
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