Kelsey Printer's Guide

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This is a relatively concise booklet covering the topic of printing with a small tabletop printing press of the kind sold by The Kelsey Company. Much of the material in it is abridged from the Kelsey Printing Course.

As is the case with the Printing Course, the date of this document is unclear. My present guess is that it was probably developed somewhere from the late 1940s to the mid 1960s. Based on evidence from material acquired with it, it was probably printed in the early 1970s. 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 Printer's Guide belonged originally to the late Charles L. (Charlie) Bush.

I've divided the document up into sections in order to keep the size of each PDF relatively small. 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. For those with a sufficiently fast net connection, here is the entire book in a single PDF (176 Megabytes): kelsey-printers-guide-9ed-complete-0600rgbjpg.pdf

Please note that this booklet documents the processes common a half century or more ago. We've learned things since then, and all of the processes described here should be evaluated in light of current knowledge of safe practices. In particular:

(1) One should never smoke in the printing shop. Smoking provides a path for the transfer of shop chemicals to your lips, and (the dangers of tobacco aside) is one of the few ways that you can poison yourself in the printing studio.

(2) Gasoline has no place in any shop, despite its common use as a solvent in the 20th century. It has a flashpoint near 50 degress below zero and has an extremely high energy content. A neighbor of mine was using gasoline in his home shop once. We knew he was coming back home from the hospital and rehab a year later when they installed the wheelchair lift on his front porch.

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Front Cover. Index.

Front cover and (inside front cover) the Index. (8 Megabytes)

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"Quick Start"

Four page section (numbered I to IV) with a one-page illustrated guide to printing, a short glossary of names of common objects used by printers, and what would be called today "FAQs." (16 Megabytes)

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Pages 1-4. How to set up an Excelsior or Victor press. Exploded diagram of tabletop press with parts named. Illustration of a California Type Case (note: a 2/3 case is shown, not the more common full California case). (16 Megabytes)

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Type and Typesetting

Pages 4-9. How to unpack type. How to make a proof. How to set type. (24 Megabytes)

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Lockup and Printing

Pages 10-17. Locking up the form. Presswork. Inking. Correcting the proof. Centering the work. Photograph of a form locked up in a chase. Proofing without the press. Drying the printed sheet. Adjusting the pressure of the rollers. (33 Megabytes)

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Halftones. Distribution. Maintenance.

Pages 17-19. Cleaning up. Distributing type. How to oil your press. (12 Megabytes)

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Underlays. Overlays. Faults.

Pages 19-25. Underlays. Overlays. Muddy impressions. Impression not clear. Lines or entire form crooked. Type loose; form will not lock up. Rollers slide over form or refuse to take ink. Light streaks across face of letters. (28 Megabytes)

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Business. Envelope Printing

Pages 25-28. How to start a stationery and job printing business. Prices. Envelope Printing. Proper care of type. (17 Megabytes)

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Care of Type & Rollers

Pages 28-30. Proper care of type. How to take care of rollers. Linoleum block printing. (13 Megabytes)

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Linoleum. Gold/Silver/Bronze. Raised.

Pages 30-34. Linoleum block printing. Gold, Silver and bronze work. Movie and photo printing [titling]. Raised printing like engraving or embossing. Christmas cards. (16 Megabytes)

If you are unfamiliar with linoleum block printing, you would do best to research it a bit and to obtain your materials from an art supply store. Modern "linoleum" floorcovering is a vinyl product unrelated to actual linoleum. (16 Megabytes)

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Binding and Stapling.

Binding and Stapling. How to turn a new font of type in the wrapper. Card Cases. Pages 34-35. (8 Megabytes)

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Star Press.

Pages 36-37. To set up the Star Press. Number of leads to pound. (8 Megabytes)

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Proofreaders' Marks.

Back cover. Proof Readers' Marks. Confusing letters. (4 Megabytes)

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