Adventures in Letterpress, Part 3: A Living Dinosaur

In the world of fast, fast, and digital everything, Michael Babcock is keeping the superior quality of old world printing alive.

operates out of an inconspicuous house in the Stonybrook neighborhood of JP. You won't hear these presses running. They're designed to print practically forever, and they raise only the slightest clatter with machinery that is reminiscent of steamboats, locomotives and the industrial beauty of the Victorian era.

The interrobang is a punctuation mark indicating a combined sense of question and incredulity. Created in 1962, it is an elegant and precise solution for expressing one of modern life's most common sentiments and frequently used phrases, "what the f..." It is literally the combination of the question mark and the exclamation point. It is rarely used, although stymied writers who aren't familiar with the mark will use the exclamation point and the question mark in sequence?!  And often in multiples???!!!  

Check out parts and on interrobang press.

Michael October 14, 2011 at 06:51 PM
"Ran" the Elrod out the window? As in, cast, and dropped strip material down onto the sidewalk below? Jim, an Elrod is a specialized caster used to create leads & slugs (non-printing inter-linear spacing) as well as various type high (printing) rule. It casts as a continuous feed so that in the least, the type high rule has a perfect face, and the 1pt leads don't break apart. More finicky old machines... http://www.printingmuseums.com/museum/gallery/renact01/msc0201b.htm
MoonBeamWatcher October 14, 2011 at 07:00 PM
The "D-MAN" would distribute foundry type. When slow and no composition to be done, compositors would help. The D man would routinely bring a lc, B, P, Q, D to "comps" who he suspected didn't know the difference and returned the "q" to the "b" box in the CA Job case and so forth. The Elrod was a machine used to make the spacing material ie: 2pt, 3pt, 6, 12, 18 and 24pt. (cut off at about 3ft lengths) 1 point spacing material was normally purchased from a foundary like Acme North East, ATF, or other 'Type Supply Houses' as it was not used that much and Elrod set up was cost prohibative as the temperature was critical to make 1pt material, thus very time consuming. Most medium sized shops had their own smelter to make pigs for the type setting machines. Lino, Ludlow or Intertype Machines. (Intertype was excellent for Legal work as it cast individual letters which could be corrected with a bodkin and sorts installed using a tweezer.) From time to time when a large mountain of linotype was to be smelted into pigs, a sample was sent out to determine the average composition of the metal. The essey would be returned with small pigs to put in smelter to bring metal back to normal balance of "lead, tin and antimoney.'
Michael October 14, 2011 at 07:00 PM
Britain, and Oz have long had a greater sense of value in craft, and handi-works. It's no surprise that fought hard against the change. Doesn't hurt that they have a, ahem, Socialist undercurrent, and that labor has always been strong. America, for better or worse, cares less for the individual, than the individual dollar. We've lost a great deal of real value as a consequence.
MoonBeamWatcher October 14, 2011 at 07:02 PM
Check that! IT WAS NOT INTERTYPE, BUT MonoTYPE that cast individual letters!
Michael October 14, 2011 at 07:05 PM
So the D-man worked the dead bank? D is for Dis'?


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