Letterpress Type – hand setting and compositions. Like the old days

It was slow and precise. Then machines that set text appeared rattling out 9,000 characters an hour, 24 7; save for maintenance. In the 50’s I remember the FOC- Father of the Chapel, saying, ‘Don’t worry your job is safe, been around for 600 years. Jim referred to rumours a man at Bromley in Kent 20 miles from where I worked at a large printer at Chatham in Kent. This man had a machine called a ‘Word Processor,’ and could set in a week, more type than several hundred Compositors in the county could do in a month. Some years later and when Rupert Murdoch virtually shut down London’s Fleet Street, thousands of Tradesmen were out of work. What happened you see was. Typists could type text/copy it was transferred to a material that compositors did the layouts. Not fully conversant as I left the trade a few years after completing my 5-years indentured apprenticeship. Comps were now called ‘Paste-up artists’ So 600-years gone in a fash as it were. Fortunately, Many Universities are setting up or have set up letterpress departments as Graphic artists want to get their hands dirty to see how it was done 600-years ago. So if all the computers stopped working. I’d charge a fortune to handset and make-up. Plus, meltdown lead and re-cast as Ingots and Pigs, ensuring the other two essential components Tin and Antimony were correct. Then, set-up a Monotype caster (9.000) characters per hour) Plus, The Ludlow slug machine. Could you blame me?

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