The printing of Tonge's Travels

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A sheet ready to go through the Western proof press

The type being printed is on the horizontal bed in front of the rollers. Tonge's Travels was printed 'four-to-view', ie four pages at a time. Each page was a double column.

Once all the sheets had been run through the press for one set of four pages, it would take up to three hours to transfer all the type to galleys, transfer the type for the next four pages from galleys to the press bed, and then to get them printing well. All the running heads had to be inserted and removed separately, and blocks for the calligraphy worked in amongst the type as well. Keeping alignment with the designed page layout was one of the hardest things, and this is of course particularly important when 'backing up' a sheet: the lines of type on the front and back of a sheet should overlap perfectly to give an even look to the final page. On an average day, the sheets for one set of pages would go through the press; on a long and hard day it would be two sets. Note the mitten to prevent blisters on a long run!

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Copyright © Martyn Ould 2001.