The Lost World of the Craft Printer
University of Illinois Press, 1992 - Business & Economics - 227 pages
In the early 1950s the printing trade disowned five centuries of its own history. Within two decades, computer-generated paper phototype had supplanted machine-cast metal type. Every aspect of a process that had changed little since the days of Gutenberg was revolutionized. Thousands of printers were displaced, and a sense of loss--of job status and craftsmanship--beset many of those who had endured the transition from "hot" to "cold" type.
This study of nostalgia and the folklore of the workplace reconstructs both the actual and the remembered worlds of the hot-metal printer. Quoting at length from interviews with stonehands, compositors, and Linotype operators, Maggie Holtzberg-Call describes not only the material components of their profession but also their customs, values, and vocabulary--the stuff of which the printers' collective memory is made.
She finds that a significant number of printers independently developed similar responses to the deskilling of their craft and the threat of unemployment. Demonstrating a widespread consistency in themes and expressive forms in the printers' occupational narratives, Holtzberg-Call shows that what once served as the printers' rhetoric of tradition is now their rhetoric of displacement. Initiation rites, long apprenticeships, a complex and peculiar jargon, and a gallery of legendary figures once bound hot-metal printers into a specialized, highly regarded occupational folk community. The hot-metal printers' lore has survived in an exemplary form that functions as a source of reconciliation with the demise of their craft.
Holtzberg-Call analyzes how and why the printers traditionalize and idealize their work experience, drawing parallels between the shift from mechanical to computer typesetting and an equally disconcerting transition in the nineteenth century, when Linotype deposed handset type. She also shares her knowledge of the many aspects of hot-metal printing culture, from the life of the tramp printer to the meanings of various printing terms to the operation of a Linotype machine. One gains a sense of the conditions in the old type shops, where long hours, excessive heat, and poorly ventilated fumes from solvent, ink, and molten lead were the crucible in which camaraderie, pride, and fulfillment were forged.
In addition to interviewing hot-metal printers, Holtzberg-Call has spoken with people involved in virtually all other facets of the industry, from proofreaders and computer keyboarders to graphic designers and typographical union officers. The book also draws upon the author's extensive readings of printing histories and trade journals, and her own experiences in printing and publishing.
The emergence of an information economy from our industrial past is marked by a growing population of technologically displaced workers. The notion of folk communities--like hot-metal printers--defined by occupational rather than temporal or spatial identities merits our attention, for in their lore are the resources for successful adaptation.
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It Was a World
Neil Angelface Fuller 1988
Amelia Story and Hazel Orth 1988
Home exretior 1988
Clock tower 1988
Union Ptinrers Home cemerery
The oldfashioned towel
The HotMetal Process
Hetitage Ptinrers of Charlotre North Carolina 1986
Ptinrers case rack for storage of foundry type
Lindy Floyd at the Linotype
Lindy Floyd making adjustments on his Linotype
Terms Tools Techniques and Tales
Jeffing for a shift of work
The education of the apprentice
Out of sorts
Diagram of foundry type
Example of tiver caused by poor typeserting
Arlantaarea newspaper composing room
Typeserting conrest on lawn of Union Ptinrers Home circa 1925
The piano player
The news typecase
Rouse composing stick with type
Stonework being done by Sarge Bare of Hetitage Ptinrers 1986
Linotype operator seared at Blower model circa 188691
New York Times hotmetal composing room 1978
The new rechnology at the New York Times 1978
Auction at John C Spencer Company 1985
Miehle letrerpress ready to roll
Papetfolding cool in bindery
Knopf example of typeserting
Illustration from ITU Lessons in Ptinting 1942
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