The Lost World of the Craft Printer

Front Cover
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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Contents

Introduction i
1
It Was a World
26
Neil Angelface Fuller 1988
43
Amelia Story and Hazel Orth 1988
45
Home exretior 1988
46
Clock tower 1988
47
Union Ptinrers Home cemerery
48
The oldfashioned towel
50
The HotMetal Process
96
Hetitage Ptinrers of Charlotre North Carolina 1986
100
Monotype keyboard
102
Monotype machine
104
Ptinrers case rack for storage of foundry type
107
Lindy Floyd at the Linotype
109
Linotype keyboard
111
Lindy Floyd making adjustments on his Linotype
118

Terms Tools Techniques and Tales
56
Jeffing for a shift of work
61
The education of the apprentice
70
Out of sorts
74
Diagram of foundry type
76
Example of tiver caused by poor typeserting
79
Arlantaarea newspaper composing room
80
Typeserting conrest on lawn of Union Ptinrers Home circa 1925
82
The piano player
85
The news typecase
86
Rouse composing stick with type
88
Stonework being done by Sarge Bare of Hetitage Ptinrers 1986
89
Linotype operator seared at Blower model circa 188691
91
New York Times hotmetal composing room 1978
122
The new rechnology at the New York Times 1978
124
Cold Composition
128
Auction at John C Spencer Company 1985
140
Miehle letrerpress ready to roll
146
The Ptinrets
151
Papetfolding cool in bindery
161
Occupational
181
Knopf example of typeserting
188
Illustration from ITU Lessons in Ptinting 1942
212
Index
221
Copyright

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