Here’s How Your Press Works
These pictures show the main points of printing. The Guide
is written so that if you follow it, one step at time, you can do good
printing. However, if you just can’t wait, you can open a package of type,
put it in a case, and set up your name (as shown here). Place it in the
chase (frame), also as per picture, put a dab of ink (no bigger than a
good sized match head) on the ink table, smooth it out with one of the
press rollers, and then take an impression on a piece of paper, turning up
the screws on the back of the platen if necessary to make the printing
show. The results this way may need considerable improvement, but they
will show you that printing is no mysterious business.
You can then go back to the beginning of this Guide, do
your next job more slowly, and get first-class, professional results.
Printing isn’t difficult. During the five hundred years
since its invention it has gathered up its own words for certain tools and
parts of the press, with which you will soon be familiar and use just as
you do baseball terms if you are a baseball fan, or photographic terms if
your are interested in photography. You can print without "speaking the
language" but you’ll find it helpful and fascinating to pick up the terms.
Here are some of them:
Bodkin - Small pointed instrument, handy around
type (like an awl).
Brayer - Roller with a handle on it, to spread ink
on ink table, or make printed proofs.
Case - The type case is a box or drawer with small
compartments, one for each of the letters and characters in a font
(assortment) of type.
Chase - Frame which holds type, etc. in the press.
Chase Bed - Sometimes called chase back or
backplate. Part of press into which chase (frame) fits, and which is
removable on the Excelsior so that you can use it for a smooth working
Chase Irons - Two flat steel bars that are placed
inside the chase and used to prevent chase screws from damaging furniture
(wood blocking). They are not used with quoins.
Composing Stick - Hand piece to put type (letters)
in when taking them from type case. If you do not have one, you can set
your type directly in the chase (frame) which on the Excelsior Press is
removable and may be laid on a table, bench or box.
Font - Just another word for a package or
assortment of type or letters in one size and style.
Furniture - Blocking to hold type (letters) in
Galley - Tray for holding type, etc., when not in
Gauge Pins - Small pins which are used on press to
hold paper or card in the right place for printing.
Grippers - The long metal fingers between the type
and the platen which keep the paper in place when printing, and prevent
its sticking after the sheet has been printed. Used on all except junior
Imposing Surface - Smooth, level surface (Excelsior
Press chase beds are removable and make a good imposing surface).
Impression Screws - Screws thru the back of the
platen, which are used to get more or less force or squeeze in printing.
The Guide tells how to use them. These have lock nuts on them, which can
be used to hold them at just the right pressure.
Leads - Narrow metal strips used to make space
between lines - like this page.
Line Gauge - Printer’s ruler.
Metal Quotations - Metal blocks used for spacing
Pi - Jumble or mix-up of type.
Pica - A way of measuring, 6 picas make an inch.
Planer - Block of wood used with mallet to smooth
down everything that is in the printing frame (chase).
Platen - That part of the press on which you put
your card or paper to be printed.
Point - A way of measuring, 72 points make an inch.
Quad Rule - Used for same purpose as brass or metal
rule, but made in blocks like type.
Quads - Same as spaces but larger. (Used between
Quoins and Key - Wedges used to hold type, etc., in
chase (printing frame). Not necessary on Excelsior Presses because
material is held in place by screws in frame (chase).
Reglet - Narrow wood strips used to make more space
between lines of type.
Rule - Brass or other metal strips to make ruled
lines in printing.
Slugs - Same as leads but three times as thick.
Spaces - Blank pieces of metal used between words.
Tympan - The paper or cardboard padding on the
Here Are Answers to Some Common Questions
1. What holds the paper in the press?
Little metal pieces called gauge pins and metal fingers
called grippers. If you do not have any gauge pins (or gauges), you can
bend three common pins to L-shapes about 3/16-inch from their heads, and
push the long pointed ends into the paper pad (tympan) up to the angle
of the pin - two at the bottom to hold the work up, one at the side for
correct margin, or, you can paste or glue quads (the large blank metal
pieces) on the padding.
2. How can I make ruled lines?
By the use of the brass or metal rule listed in the
catalog. It comes in two-foot strips which may be easily cut to any
lengths you want, or can be furnished already cut to your order. Quad
rule can also be used for the same purpose.
3. Can I print more than one color without any extra
Yes, all you need is the colored ink, which you will
find listed in the catalog.
4. Does the price of type include that of both
capital and small letters?
If they are both shown in the specimen line in the
catalog, the price includes both caps and small letters; if the small
letters are not shown, they are not made, for instance, 6A 12a means
there are both capital and small letters in a font, 6A that is consists
of caps only.
5. Does "12A" over the fonts mean that the font
consists of 12A, 12B, 12C, 12D, 12E?
No, because you would run out of some letters before
others if you had the same number of each. It means that, if you count
the number of A’s in anything you print, you can get a general idea of
how much type you need. In a type font or assortment there are more E’s
than A’s, fewer B’s etc.
6. What is the difference between a regular font of
type, 8A, and a large font, 16A, for instance?
The large font is twice as big as the regular font. The
larger the font, the cheaper it is to assemble it, hence we are able to
give you bigger value for your money in them.
7. What do mean by a 60-inch font of border?
There would be enough border in such a font to set 60
inches in a straight line, or a square 15 inches on each side, or any
variation of it.
8. Is the border made all in one piece so that I
would have to cut it?
No, it is cast in small pieces like type letters, so
that you can make it up in any length or shape you want; and use it in
as many jobs, one after the other, as you please, just like type
9. How many are there of each letter in a font of
There are three of each so that you can make up any
In the Riverdale monograms there are not only three of
each, but three of each size, so that you can make up either large or
small monograms, or combinations of the two.
10. How can I make raised printing that looks like
engraving or embossing?
You can do it with any press and the raised printing
outfit listed in the catalog.
11. How long does it take to do raised printing?
Just about as long as it takes to do the actual
printing. The price you can get for it, however, is so much more that
your profit makes the time well spent.
12. How can I make perforated lines for tearing
tickets, coupons, etc., from stubs?
This is done with the steel perforating rule listed in
the catalog, which is put in the press just like the type, and the
pressure of which makes the perforations.
13. How many leads are there in a pound?
About ten feet.
14. How many slugs?
Slugs are three times as thick so there are just 1/3 as
many as there are leads in the same weight.