Thursday, April 23, 2009

Poco Proof Press No. 1534

If you look back to the post “You’ve Got A Line Gauge, Don’t You?” you’ll see that the last line of copy reads: printed on Poco proof press No. 1534.

Well, pictured above is Poco proof press No. 1534 with the printer himself (ca. 1982) inking a rule by hand.

I had two presses before I got the Poco, but the first press that I used seriously was the Poco. I attached grippers and guides to the cylinder. I also rigged a hinged, sloped feeding table with a side-guide. As the press was designed for pulling newspaper proofs from a galley and would print on the return, the feeding table was hinged so that it could be lifted up and allow the gripper-mechanism to clear on the return stroke. Also you will notice a blank sheet just behind the dead line; on the return stroke I lay that over the form so that the tympan would not get printed.

I was spoiled, of course, having first learned to print using a top of the line Vandercook SP15 with automatic inking. Unfortunately the Poco did not have automatic inking, and I had to learn how to ink by hand, with a brayer running on removable roller bearers (also shown).

But more about inking by hand in some future post.

Monday, April 20, 2009

mouse type

In the trade 6- and 7-point type is known as mouse type. Its primary use is for legal copy not really intended to be read—such as disclaimers or copyright notices.

What brings this to mind is that recently I was setting by hand some 8-point Libra. I hadn't set a small point size in a long time, but it went well enough. Problems began in earnest, however, when I started setting some 6-point (A) Microgramma Extended (the A 6-point size being 2.5-point cap height on a 6-point body). I finally resorted to using a magnifying glass and a tweezers.

Pictured is a figure font of 48-point Microgramma Extended. Look closely at the gap in the second line. See that tiny something between the figure one and the figure nine? That’s a figure one from 6-point (A) Microgramma Extended.

When you are working onscreen in a graphics program the deception of these ratios is not so obvious. 800 percent may not seem like much onscreen, but I am offering up this photo as proof that a six-point body can be very hard to see.

Now imagine trying to read the 2.5-pt cap height printed letter on a business card, and then in an “ambiance-lighted” restaurant or bar. (The 2.5-point cap height against the 40-point cap height on the 48-point body having doubled the magnification to 1600 percent.)

Hopefully no one would ever set type that small for a business card.

So the question remains: Why was I setting type so small?