Kelsey Printing Course

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This is a relatively late copy of the course sold by the Kelsey Company in support of their small (mostly tabletop) printing presses aimed primarily at the amateur market. It is of interest to beginning printers today because it makes very few assumptions about what the reader knows about printing. It's also pretty good technical writing - not up to the level of the great Sam Brown, of course, but very solid nonetheless.

The date of this course is unclear. Internal evidence suggests that it was developed between the late 1940s and the mid 1960s (For example, in it sample telephone numbers use two- (not three-) letter alphabetic exchanges, as was common in this period). The cover lesson for this particular printing makes reference to Kelsey's 100th anniversary (which would have been 1972), suggesting that this copy was printed soon after that. I believe that it has lapsed into the public domain due to a technical fault in its copyright notice (see the section of fine print at the end of this page).

This particular copy of the Kelsey Printing Course belonged originally to the late Charles L. (Charlie) Bush, a well-known amateur printer and journalist. I am too new to printing to have known him, but I trust that this reprint is a suitable memorial to someone who spent a lifetime encouraging amateur printing.

Each of the icons below links to a PDF of the corresponding section. These PDFs tend to run about 40 Megabytes in file size for an 8-page section. If your network connection is fast, you may be able to click on each and read it online via your web browser. However, I would suggest that you download each lesson to your computer (or whatever serves you in place of a real computer) and read them locally in your own environment.

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Cover Sheet.

A single page.

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"How to Become an All-Round Printer" 4 pages.

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Lesson 1. Names & Terms.

The basic names for letterpress printing equipment. Also topics not often remembered today, such as lining. Pre-point system type body size names. 8 pages (as are the rest of the lessons).

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Lesson 2. Basic Tools.

Basic hand tools of the printer, and simple machines. Printer's Dictionary: A, B.

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Lesson 3. Basic Type Manipulation.

How to open a new font of type. Proofing a new font. Laying the case. How to set type (basic). Proofreading. Printer's Dictionary: B.

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Lesson 4. Form Lockup. Gauge Pins.

Locking the form. Placing the form in the chase. Setting gauge pins. Substitute gauge pins. Grippers. Register. Printer's Dictionary: B.

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Lesson 5. Preparation. Makeready.

Preparation for presswork. The squeeze in a form. Getting the press ready. Trial impression. Makeready. Tympan packing. Printer's Dictionary: B.

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Lesson 6. Feeding. Inking. Cleaning.

Feeding the press. Inking. Type off its feet. Preventing offset. Slipsheets. Cleaning. Printer's Dictionary: B.

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Lesson 7. Setting Type. Handling Forms.

How to set and handle body type (more advanced). Setting display type. Tying up a form. Forms for multiple colors. Two colors with one form. Printing part of a form. Thin spaces. Printer's Dictionary: B, C.

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Lesson 8. Distributing Type. Cleaning. Type Cases.

Removing the chase from the form. Distributing type, leads, and slugs. Cleaning the press, form, and rollers. Characters frequently confused. Type cases and cabinets. Printer's Dictionary: C.

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Lesson 9. Letterspacing. Changes. Usage.

Letter-spacing. Making changes in the type form. Proof taking and proof presses. Securing a form in a galley for proving. Grammar. Correct spelling of firm names. Use of "Mr." Proper position of quotes. Pronunciation of printing terms. Printer's Dictionary: C.

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Lesson 10. Processes. Plates.

Survey of printing processes (lithography/offset, plate engraving, rotogravure, collotype); types of plates and cuts. Stereotypes, Electrotypes, plastic plates; rubber plates. Zinc/line etchings / photoengraving. Halftones. Color plates. Tint blocks; Linoleum blocks. Printer's Dictionary: D.

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Lesson 11. Details of Typesetting. Tabular/Ruled Matter.

Hyphens & Dashes. Reference marks (daggers, etc.) Setting initial letters, quotation marks, quoted matter. Setting tabular matter and ruled forms. How to underscore words. Position of 'J' and 'U' in the case. Small typecases. Printer's Dictionary: E.

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Lesson 12. Imposition. Topics in Setting.

Layout, imposition, and makeup. Pamphlet and book makeup. Indenting and headings. Setting of figures. Use of leaders. Setting long lines with short leads. Forms with borders. Setting poetry. Printer's Dictionary: F, G.

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Lesson 13. Paper.

Standard paper sizes; weights. Counting and cutting paper. Jogging, folding. Padding and padding outfits. Choice of paper. Printer's Dictionary: G, H, I, J.

Note that the etymology given for "journeyman" is incorrect. The Course says that originally it indicated an itinerant craftsman, and that a secondary meaning was that of someone who worked by the day. In fact this second meaning is the primary one. The original meaning of "journey" was "a day." The word comes from the same Latin root which gives us the modern word "diurnal" (by day). Thus a "journal" is a daily record, and "journey" in the sense of travel originally meant a day's travel. The word "journey" in the sense that it was incorporated into "journeyman" meant a day's labor; it was used in this sense from at least the 14th to the 18th centuries. Thus a journeyman was a worker intermediate in position between an apprentice (unpaid) and an employing master (payer) who was paid a daily wage. There is no hint in the etymology of "journeyman" of any kind of travel.

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Lesson 14. Envelope Printing. Typewriter Facsimile.

Envelope printing. Typewriter facsimile work. Embossing with dies. Cleaning of shaded type. Composing and Make-up Rules. Printer's Dictionary: K, L (incl. lining typefaces).

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Lesson 15. Type History. Lining Systems.

Type History. How to know one type from another. Speed in typesetting. Type alignment. Use of mortised type and cut-out electrotypes. Linotype and Monotype composition. Kinds of rule. Printer's Dictionary: M, N, O.

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Lesson 16. Layouts. Register. Testing Platen.

Making layouts. Type sizes to use. Planing [not planning] the form. Large forms. Getting perfect register for color work. Testing the platen for even impression. Printer's Dictionary: O, P.

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Lesson 17. Cost and Price.

Cost and selling price. Paste for labels. Allowances for spoilage. Use of the American flag. Sheets with small margins. Labor saving material [furniture, leads, etc.] Printer's Dictionary: P, Q, R.

Note that the definition of "pinmark" given isn't quite right. A pinmark is an artifact of the process of casting type on a pivotal (Bruce) type-casting machine. The pin was frequently engraved with information (point size and/or foundry identification) which was in consequence cast into the side of the type, but that was never its primary purpose. (A very few typefoundries using non-pivotal casters modified them so as to produce "fake" pinmarks, but this was uncommon.)

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Lesson 18. Ink and Color.

Inking. Ink colors and shades. Mixing colored inks. Muddy impressions - how to eliminate. Taking proofs in two or more colors. Color mottling and ink weights. Drying compound. Reducing compound. Fixing or binding compound. To prevent ink from drying in the can. Printer's Dictionary: R, S.

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Lesson 19. Rule. Halftones.

Mitering or beveling rule. How to get good results on rule joints. Printing habits of brass and metal rule. Lining type when used with rule. Protecting rollers from rule. Perforating. Steel cuttihng rule. An easily made composing rule. Printing ruled forms which come to the edge of the paper. Halftones. Printer's Dictionary: R, S.

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Lesson 20. Setting Announcements and Cards.

Setting wedding and other announcements. Correct forms for personal cards, etc. Business card forms. Printer's Dictionary: S, T, U, V, W.

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Lesson 21. Examples of Makeready. Cutting Dies.

Examples of makeready (overlay). Metal furniture and quotations. Steel cutting dies. Printer's Dictionary: W, Z.

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