I THE FOUNT I GERALD GIAMPA I
Printing History 37, fig. 11, page 10,
¶ BOY, NICHOLAS BARKER must have a lot of time on his hands. Look at all the work he did on the so-called "trial cover design".
Imagine him, snipping away with his scissors, paste up to his elbows examining every detail under a microscope. Imagine his marks in biology class while away at boys' school. Essays full of really big fancy words like 'mold' telling about his discoveries. Imagine him earning high grades so his mother would take him to see the elephants at the visiting circus.
Nicolas Barker must have thought he struck gold working on fig. 11.
The attention paid to fig. 11 is what I call "distractionary intellectualism". It is not slightly germane to the topic. I am extremely curious as to why so much attention should be paid to a totally anonymous item. Personally if I were to find such an item I would have assumed it had failed to be re-filed, or it was orphaned from its docket. My initial thoughts however would have been to reprimand the employee who missed the trash can.
Without positive connection to the Time 54 discussion we may as well talk about the newest version of the BMW sports car.
WHAT IS IT?
¶ I ASSUME it came from my plant. Lanston digitised No. 362 for a private customer. Previously I had no knowledge of No. 362. It was also at this time we became aware of Time 54. We were servicing a customer.
The digital department may have produced what is shown in Fig. 11 for the client to confirm if the Lanston Monotype Machine Company cutting of Time 54 was identical to match his search. Why the customer would wish for a fake showing of an old Time Magazine cover however defies imagination.
NICK GOES TO HOLLYWOOD
¶ NORTHLAND LETTERPRESS, printers, publishers and typefounders shared overlapping premises with Lanston. Northland, formerly Cobblestone Press, my own company, steadily produced printed stage props such as fake newspapers, fake magazines, fake letterheads, fake brochures and fake signage for the movie industry. Vancouver was Hollywood North. With our typographical resources we became the first choice supplier for such props competing even with Hollywood California.
I myself was fooled by one of my own props. It was the headline, "Panama Canal Treaty Signed". I had used it on a fake newspaper for one of the many movies. Possibly it was used for the successful movie The Grey Fox. Don't ask about "Wet Nurse Needed". That's a sore point, OK.
So what do you say, possible or what?
MOVIE PROP THEORY
¶ FIRST NOTICE there is no illustration or date on the cover.
Obviously it would have required a very large, almost prohibitively expensive, zinc engraving to produce such a proof. If it were produced for one simple cover an illustration would have been included. That would save a press run, and additional 'plate charges'.
But if this plate shown in fig. 11 were to be used for various fake issues the most economical method for short runs would be to run the plate without the illustration. Then to imprint date and illustration changes as desired.
Obviously the absence of any illustration indicates the plate was to be used for several different versions.
This is consistent with other productions for the movie industry at Northland Letterpress. In fact it is just basic economics that one would expect from any efficient letterpress printing establishment faced with the same problem. Or as a printer would say: "Well duhhh!
PROP THEORY WEAKNESS
¶ THERE IS ONE GLARING weakness to the movie prop theory.
My printing business ran for thirty years. Between the different locations many employees came and went.
Even though I would not be expected to remember each and every single printing commission that ran through the plant, I should have memory of this one.
¶ NORTHLAND LETTERPRESS could not be compared to hobby print shop economies. Cobblestone Press and Northland Letterpress had to meet serious deadlines, pay extensive overhead, cover substantial payrolls. This required very serious attention to details, and strict cost control systems. We were the first Vancouver printing establishment to develop a computerized estimating program. In 1974 we implemented the printing industries of America cost control systems. I was twenty-four years of age at that time.
Possibly some readers have their own print shops. They may already know this, most don't. Without effective estimating you will either attract losing commissions or lose commissions that your shop would have easily profited from.
Don't look at the customer's shoes, look at the commission in question.
What kills a printing business is, faulty estimating skills, craftsmanship, proof reading and lack of cost control. Without cost controls you are simply out of control.
My shops ran for thirty years running strictly letterpress equipment, our competition ran extremely modern equipment. I saw many dozens of print shops come and go. I saw many imitators eventually seeking refuge of their barns and basements.
But on the other hand I had purchased a house with a hand-fed, later water front property on Nelson Island and about twelve waterfront lots on Savory Island. I had also purchased two yachts from profits earned in the industry not to mention my 1929 antique Buick. All was earned from my business skills and beautiful products.
The 1937 Buick came from my digital earnings.
My shop not only survived but grew until winding it down in1994 when I retired at 44 years of age.
This is a testament to both business acumen and attention to detail. Did I mention beautiful products?
¶ OUTSIDE EXPENSES were never authorized by any other than myself. A plate of this size, even if produced by our in-house darkroom and plate making department, would most certainly have attracted my attention.
Polymer plate making, although convenient and less expensive than outside engraving required serious foresight and strict cost controls. The materials were not cheap. Film, chemicals and plates were all consumables that deteriorated on the shelf.
And, there were no local suppliers of polymer. It was shipped from Ontario. Lead time and big monies were required. Getting a return on your investment in materials would usually be a long time coming.
These materials were expensive, required proper storage and strategic ordering. Therefore they were all guarded by tight purchasing controls.
The red flag for my print shop went up when outside expenses exceeded 20% of the job total.
Plate charges for fig. 11 most assuredly exceeded that ratio. Labour charges would have been less than plate charges.
Remember the proof is missing the illustration which indicates several other plates were required.
I do not remember fig. 11 as a printing commission for the movie industry. I should, I find that very unsettling. I remember my curiosity when it was brought to my attention when we were digitizing Time 54.
There goes my stage prop theory!
AT THIS JUNCTURE
¶ AT THIS JUNCTURE a positive connection that fig. 11 belonged to the Time 54 file is improbable. So it would behove us, for the sake of sanity, not to even "dream of elephants at the Circus".
I only hope Nicolas Barker did not waste too much time and money on fig. 11.
I do not exclude the possibility that fig. 11 is an item belonging with the development of Time 54. However, not knowing the original context of this particular illustration we should be spared annoyance until further notice.
I take back what I said earlier, maybe fig. 11 is germane. Maybe Nicolas Barker is going to prove helpful after all. I have never met him. Probably he is not a bad guy. Maybe he is right. It could be that fig. 11 is important. Perhaps the dating is just wrong.
You want a date? I think I can find you one. Where are my scissors?
PRINTING HISTORY: The Jornal of American Printing History Association; No 37, page 11, right hand column, 7 lines up, the word 'mold'. Fig. 10. Top.
THE FOUNT: Gerald Giampa, Italian/Canadian in Finland teaches Englishman Nicolas Barker and an American, David Pankow of the Rochester Institute, how Americans "actually"spelled 'muld' in America.
Dear Mr. Nicolas Barker,
You know I owned many dictionaries in my life, that thirteen volume Oxford, two volume Oxford, the one with the magnifying glass, Websters, you name it but I don't need one, I can schpel just phine. I can assure you that 'mold' is often and correctly spelled 'M -O--L-D' in 'Early American Printing Terminology'. Now there are exceptions, but what can you expect, Americans are exceptional people. Even your prime minister would agree.
Some day you should read a book on American printing history? Fascinating stuff, it's better than cricket or Tetley's Tea.
Nick, does punchcutting card mean anything to you?
My Webster is bigger than your Webster!
Would you care to speculate on how the American Lanston Monotype Machine Company spelled 'serif' until the year 2000. Would it be your guess . . . 'ceriph'?
By the way Nick, are you using Netscape?
© MMIII GIAMPA I THE FOUNT I THE FONT
THE FOUNT Volume IX: Permission is denied to publish this text or illustrations by any method unless granted in writing by the Gerald Giampa or his heirs.