Mystery letterpress finds!

I was chatting to Breck the other day about the presses in our workshop. We have quite a few of them - all different shapes and sizes. She was telling me that sometimes when she has bought a press and installed it in the studio, she has discovered an old remnant of the previous life of the machine. Tucked away behind the rollers or under the chase, she has found a bit of printed ephemera from when the press was last operated. Here's a photo of something she found in the press we use daily:

garment tag

It's funny to think that before we started using the press to print wedding invitations and business cards it was used to print garment tags! It's lovely to imagine the press in a whole different workshop, being operated by a different master printer. I reckon our presses have been through a great many reincarnations! Here's that garment tag tucked in amongst the parts of our Golding Jobber No. 7:

tag and machine

- Jana

The Golding Jobber No. 7: Oiling the Press...

Kate and I had fun making this short video. Each time Kate uses any press in our workshop, she carefully oils all the moving parts. It's fairly easy to figure out where to put the oil - you move around the machine and look for small holes - then just pour a few drops of oil into each one. Learn more (including how we use chopsticks in the studio!) by taking a look at the video:

The Golding Jobber No. 7: The rollers

Before Kate gets started fixing up our letterpress, she did a thorough audit of all the parts to see what was redeemable and which bits of kit had reached the end of their lifespan. Sadly, the rollers were just not up to scratch. The material had decomposed - most likely from lack of use. That said, letterpress rollers usually need to be replaced around every ten years so we expected that this would be a spare part we would have to factor in.

Yikes: it almost looks like a small animal has been gnawing on the rollers: here's a close-up of one of them:

Interestingly, the Golding Jobber holds three rollers, but we often print using just two and the results are the same.

The purpose of the rollers is to transfer ink onto the plate, which is then pressed into the paper stock, leaving a de-bossed mark. Since the beginning of letterpress, the concern has always been how to ensure that ink is transferred with consistency and equal pressure. In the very early stages, printers applied the ink manually, using something called an ink ball or dabber which consisted of a wooden handle and sheepskin bag filled with horsehair:

In 1818, Robert Harrild developed the first ‘composition roller’, made of glue (from calfskins) and treacle. Needless to say, though this was an improvement on the dabber, it was still not ideal. Luckily, in the intervening years, the materials used for rollers have improved and they now have a much longer lifespan (and they are not made from treacle!)

- Jana

Introducing... the Golding Jobber No. 7

We have a wonderful late 19th Century Golding Jobber No. 7 letterpress here in our studio. It's not in great shape so it's been sitting at the side, making us feel a little guilty for not using it. Finally, with the winter months approaching we have time to take on a new task and we are giving ourselves the challenge of bringing this awesome machine back to peak performance. Kate, our letterpress whiz, will be cleaning up the press, fitting new parts and generally ensuring that the press is shipshape and ready for another 100 years of printing!

Here's how the Golding Jobber looks at the moment:

When we bought this press, we also got a copy of the original advert! We love the old school look of it:

Keep checking our blog for updates on our progress with the Golding Jobber No. 7!