Sunday, February 6, 2011


Printers now work with keyboards and computer monitors. Up to about 15 years ago machines like this were still in use. Printers would hand set their cast type into trays, lock them in place, ink the type with rollers and one-by-one print sheets of paper.
The machines on display at the MK Museum date in design from the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century.

In the top picture you can see an Albion Press - a 19th century press which had an improved mechanism over earlier flat bed presses. A single lever action could bring the paper into contact with the inked plate.
The press in the second picture is a flat bed proofing press. It is a mid 20th century design. In this model the type can be laid on the flat bed and it can be inked and printed in a forward and backward pass. Printers often used this type of press for posters.

The so-called platen press was activated by a foot treadle and flywheel and has a complicated mechanism for  inserting the paper, inking the type, bring the paper on the platen into contact with the inked type, and removing the printed paper in a single cycle. By the mid 20th century these machines had become motorized, although theye were usually too expensive for the small jobbing printer.

Muscutt and Tompkins has a newsagents at 5 Stratford Road and a stationery shop at Number 9a. At the back of this shop they ran their printing business. McCorquodale's were major commercial printers and far too big to attend to the needs of those wanting letterheads, business cards and posters. In Wolverton that need was filled by Muscutt and Tompkins and Clarkes on Church Street after the war. Perhaps Emerton's at 109 Church Street also did printing. I am not sure about this.

Posters, particularly if colour was required, were often hand made in the 1950s. There was one chap I recall on Cambridge Street and another on Victoria Street providing this service.

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