Printers’ Tales for Kindle

I’m pleased to announce that “Printers’ Tales” is now available on the Kindle.

You can get your copy here: (USA) (UK)

Please don’t buy the book if you are a contributor to it. I’m still working on a special “contributors’ edition” for the Kindle, drop me an email, and I’ll get a special edition sent to you when completed.

Overall, I’m very pleased with how the project has turned out. Thanks to everyone who has helped out with tips on producing the cover, etc.

All the Best
Dave Hughes
York, UK

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others here see the

tales about printers
on a device
eliminates printers

yours truly

Yes, I agree that there is an ironic element to this. But as the premise of the book is to preserve memories of the letterpress craft and tradition, and bring it to a wider audience, I think the format is entirely appropriate.

The book is now available in other formats at Smashwords here:

I am still amazed by this site as I came across it by accident it takes me back 60 years to the start of my journey into the printing craft, a craft still surviving despite modern technology, even the old print guilds no longer exist in their original form, I have attached a pic of a certificate that is most probably rare now in the printing craft.

image: Guild of Young Printers Certificate.jpg

Guild of Young Printers Certificate.jpg

Austin, how old do you have to be before you are not a young printer??? I think that certificate is great, 1955, that should make you an old timer???

Lobster Shift

Not sure why anyone would think an ebook on printing would eliminate printers. Printer’s exist because that is what they want to do. Walter Hamady once said we do it because we “have” to.

The book is information about printing’s past. Would you prefer that to be in letterpress form? and would you be willing to buy it if it were? You are using an e-forum to write a letter. Isn’t that ironic? Do you angst about the disappearance of the typewriter? I sure don’t.

I laser printed a book about letterpress printing and it was fairly successful and only a few folks ever complained about it not being letterpress printed. And I knew these folks. They were all too cheap to buy any book letterpress printed.

It’s about information and getting it out there, to those who want and need it, without charging them an arm and a leg to pay for the cost of production.


dickg - read you nice reply, yes I certainly am a old timer, past my mid 70s, still on the computer every day, but not to much design work now, transfered to graphic design and DTP in later life on Macs, but still interested in all things print, whether its new technology or old, print and design is still the same be it hot metal or new technology, I still used the same skills and training instilled in me 60 years ago and certainly don’t miss the bad conditions for printers in those day, but that’s another story.

I never learned the new ways, i stuck with hot metal and letterpress printing. Austin if you ever find you do miss the bad conditions stop by for a visit, i’m trying to keep them going.

to all

What is important? I think it is the perception of the person who reads the printed page that matters.

When the daily newspaper where I worked went from (stereotype) letterpress to photosetting and offset, we made the mistake of not changing the nominal size of the text type.

The metal type had been Mergenthaler Ionic No. 5, 7 point, but with a set-width of 8 points. Originally it had been chosen in the 1930s by practical test, using the kind of lighting which the farmers used.

What was overlooked in 1975 was that, in the steps from the paste-up to the offset printing plate, there was a reduction in the camera room at a ratio of 94%. What started out as 7 point New Times Roman ended up as about six-and-a-half point. That was soon fixed, the photoset (paste-up) text changed to 9 point, which gave an end result of about eight-and-a-half point; the classified advts were smaller, probably only one point smaller.

Mergenthaler Ionic No. 5 had been expressly designed for the methods used to typeset and print the newspaper, though I was not aware of that at the time I was doing my apprenticeship, nor, I suspect, did the foreman who chose the typeface know of its history, he was only seeking the practical result.

In this town we now have a weekly newspaper which is quite successful and well-designed in most ways, but sets some of the text in a sans-serif face which is made up of very thin strokes and the characters are crowded together, making for difficulty of reading.

Tradesmen printers are no longer needed to produce the newspaper, and it shows. Referring to events from January 24 to 28 (inclusive) the headline in the daily newspaper referred to four days; probably that would not have happened if a compositor had typeset the headline? And if there had still been proofreaders?

Compositors asked for the press to be stopped while printing our weekly tourist newspaper with the front-page headline

Bumber tourist year

This happened only because of chance, one of the comps picked up a couple of copies of the tourist newspaper to take to a political candidate each week, as a source of information on the district; if the compositor had been on day shift not night, almost certainly the weekly would have gone out without alteration; as it was, about 60% of the run had been printed before STOP PRESS.

[The tradesmen made some very embarrassing errors; the classic, substitution of the word “now” instead of “not” because of a distraction at the wrong time. And some others.]


The most embarrassing typo I ever saw was a large headline in an ad for a department store that was having a large SHIRT SALE. They left out the ‘R’.


Continuing on a ‘typo’ error theme, one must not overlook Linotype’s classic contained in its 1923 book, The Manual of Linotype Typography. There, on page 134 - as a head, no less - stares the word: Benedictine; or should be. Somehow, despite the plethora of proof-readers surely employed, the ‘t’ and ‘i’ are transposed. Wonder who had their lamp turned off over that little gaffe? :o)

forme and foolproof - reminds me of the error missed by the front page comp, the journalist, editor and reader on the regional paper I worked on years ago, it was about Sir Vivian Foukes the explorer, the front page heading in one of the biggest type to be used read, “Foukes of to the Arctic again”, fortunately it was spotted just before going to press, and yes there where plenty of red faces over that one.

When i was a linotype operator for a daily paper my machine kept hanging up the f, called the mechanic and he said he was too busy that i had to struggle for a while, after 6 hours of opening the machine and pulling the f out by hand (you won’t believe how many f’s are in the paper) and having called the machinist at least 10 times i was at the copy desk where we were handed our copy, the machinist ran by and i asked again, got the struggle a little longer, i said fine, from now on everything i set won’t have any f’s because i’m not pulling another one out. The man who handed us our copy was smiling at me when he handed me the copy. When i sat at my machine and looked at the classified ad he handed me i knew i’d be in trouble, it read something like Wanted a nurse to work night shift, must be willing to work and shift we need her to cover, must be willing to trade shifts with other nurses. The ad was one column and about 6 or 8 inches deep, it had shift in there about ten times. Well the proofreader thought it was funny so he didn’t mark it, so the ad got printed, boy was i in trouble.

Most of you out there in posession of a certain heidelberg manual will know we call all of them by womens names because the press has to have a “tampon” fitted …

For all of you typographic afficionados, there is a great typo in the 1923 ATF catalog that you could probably spend a lifetime staring at and never detect.

On page 86 is their showing of Parsons Swash Initials. The typo is that the cap O is laying on its side - rolled 90 degrees to the right! It is cast on a square body so it fit properly when set and actually does not stand out as a mistake. However if you look at a 1925 BB&S catalog on page 339 you can see that the little swash should dip down from the top and not come in from the right side.

And - if one is curious as to why one of BB&S’s signature type families (Parsons) is shown in the ATF catalog, the answer is that by 1923, ATF had actually absorbed BB&S, but had agreed by allow them to continue to operate under their own identity. The popularity of Parsons at the time was obviously too great of a temptation for ATF to not include in their own catalog.