Page 6 - December 2016
P. 6

|  Britannia Waves the Rules |                             |  Continued  |
         On these pages are just a handful   the ‘Electric Twister’. “Procure a pair of
       of examples of brass rule pictures and   ordinary pliers and take them to a good
        ourishes. Various inventions were   and careful mechanic, and let him  le
       patented to enable printers to twist,   both prongs, perfectly round, about one
                                                      eighth of an inch in diameter
                                                      . . .”. This tool was the secret
                                                      of good ‘twisting’, but Mr
                                                      D. H. Walford (foreman
                                                      of the jobbing department
                                                      of Norman, Sawyer & Co.
                                                      of Cheltenham) was not
                                                      convinced. Having procured
                                                      his pliers and modi ed them
                                                      he declared them a ‘fraud’.
                                                      Walford’s rival process
                                                      involved soldering a piece of
                                                      sti  wire to the brass strip and
                                                      rolling it into a sort of ‘swiss
                                                      roll’ with a cardboard ‘ lling’.
                                                      The  nal stage was to ‘put it in
                                                      the  re to melt out the solder
       twiddle and twirl brass rule into fanciful   and burn away the cardboard’. All of this
       shapes. The American master printer John   e ort to produce a
       Franklin Earhart, whose story appeared   rather lumpen and
       in earlier pages of Small Printer (August   unattractive letter
       2014), patented ‘The Twister’, a device   “S” (see illustration).
       which allowed precision manipulation    Twisters often
       of brass rule and included a number of   went to ridiculous
       attachments for special wavy e ects.   lengths to produce
       Whilst it didn’t rival the Tulipomania of   their complex and
       the early 17th century, the  xation with   fussy designs. The
       brass rule pictures reached a peak in the   lion shown on these
       mid-1880s and the best examples come   pages was created by
       from the decade that followed.        hammering scraps
         Late nineteenth-century trade       of brass rule into a
       magazines were  lled with hints and tips   plank of soft pine
       on how to ‘twist’ successfully. The British   and then grinding
       Printer helpfully revealed that to obtain   down the rules to
       the best results the brass rule should be   produce an even
       heated until red-hot and then put aside   surface for printing.
       to cool slowly. This process made the   It was still much
       metal much more malleable. In May 1891   higher than .918, so a
       Mr F. W. Thomas of the Electric Press   proof was taken and
       (Toledo, Ohio) published a diagram of   an electrotype made
       his modi ed pliers, which he nicknamed   for printing. This
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