Page 10 - March 2014
P. 10

John Alexander (5509)

      NAME any prinƟng machine of the            The basic machine was hand turned but
 last 150 years and you will find it well         most were on a tubular steel stand, run by
 documented. Most likely a member of the         an electric motor. The type faces for this
 BPS has one. There is one, more recent          work were those found on typewriters and
 machine however, that has dropped out of        most of the type in circulaƟon was of this
 sight. There was a member of my branch          despised variety. They were not the only ones
 in the early days with a MulƟgraph, but he      availabe. The type was made by the American
 leŌ long ago, probably because of the thinly    Type Founders and many of their standard
 disguised contempt the machine aroused in       faces were available. Working on the rotary
'proper printers'.                               principal meant that it was fast and did not
                                                 have to be built like a tank, although it was
 The rotary MulƟgraph was always a poor          built to last.
 cousin of real presses. There were several
 reasons for this and the main one was that      In America, and to a lesser extent in England,
 it did not use printers' type but a shortened   this machine was responsible for the growth
 version with a lug on the boƩom to fit the       of a secondary prinƟng industry. Masses
 slots of the MulƟgraph drum. Another reason     of prinƟng turned out for large companies,
 was that it was not a machine to be found       government departments and socieƟes
 in use by printers. It was capable of mass-     by people who had never been trained as
 producing leƩers that looked as if they had     printers, knew nothing of proper prinƟng
 been individually typed by subsƟtuƟng a wide    and were paid less than real printers.
 inked ribbon for the inking rollers. This was   They were using a technique unknown to
 its primary functon. Large sales organizaƟons   printers and their response was to ridicule
 turned out their direct mail leƩers using the   it. Nevertheless, the prinƟng the MulƟgraph
 mulƟgraph without bothering printers, or        produced was of a high standard and
 members of prinƟng unions; another reason       indisƟnguishable from the product of the
 for dislike of the machine. To describe it is   mainstream.
 fairly simple. A drum with slots for special
 type around its circumference, a roller         The firm I worked for farmed a lot of prinƟng
 bearing up upon the sheet of paper as it        work to a workshop equipped only with
 passes the drum, an inking rollerand a feeder.  MulƟgraphs and there was nothing about the
                                                 finished product to betray its origins. Tabular
                                                 work was no problem as devices were made

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