This term implies the process of laying the form on the press — fixing it in its place — placing the tympan sheet on the tympan — placing the points to make register, when both sides of the paper are to be printed — making register — preparing the frisket — and producing an equal impression from all the pages, and from every part of each page.
When an engraving on wood is printed, it also denotes the overlaying it, so as to produce an impression, which shall possess all the effect that the subject may require.
In common work, where despatch is required, thick blankets are used in the tympans; and when the types are much worn they are also necessary, to bring up the rounded face of the letter. It is too common in good work to put an excess of blanket into the tympans, to lessen the pull for the purpose of easing the pressmen's arms, and to enable them to be more expeditious: the consequence is, that the impression will show more than the surface of the types or engraving; and thus what is gained in ease and expedition, is more than counterbalanced by the imperfect and rough impression:that is produced. See Fine Presswork, and Engravings on Wood.
An old pressman, who was a good workman, gave me the following directions for making ready a form: —
“In making ready, I will only speak of a form of fine work; if a pressman can do that, he surely can make common work ready.
“Lay the form on the stone, centrically under the platen; quoin it all round; fold the tympan sheet according to the form laid on the press; lay it even on the form, and stretch it as much as it will bear; pull it, for the purpose of attaching it to the tympan; paste it all round to the tympan, at the same time keep stretching it; screw on the points; make them fall in the channel of the short cross; make good register with white paper, whether the form be whole or half sheet work.
“This is one of the good old customs, and the best that I know of; because the pressman is sure to have the points centrical; he perceives whether all the furniture be put in right or wrong, even to a single scaleboard: in leaded matter, which should be line upon line, he ascertains whether the form be locked up evenly or not, and whether the leads be all put in right; also, whether the pages that begin chapters, or other divisions of the work, have the proper whites; he can likewise discover if any of the pages be made up too long, or too short: any of these errors, that may have occurred, must be amended in the white paper form, otherwise the reiteration will have the same faults, in order to make register. On fine work, I make ready the white paper form of a sheet in the same manner as I do a half sheet, on purpose to discover those errors, by which process I gain more time in making ready the reiteration than I lost in the white paper-form.
“For fine work, use the finest cloth that can be procured, and not thick flannel blanket: If the form be light, one thin cloth blanket will be sufficient; and if it be very light, that is to say open leaded matter, sheets of paper are preferable to either flannel or cloth in the tympans. Be sure to have one sheet of stout paper, which will cover all the parchment, in the inside of the outer tympan. Pull a dry even sheet of paper; look carefully on the back of the impression; if it be not equally even, the light parts must be overlaid with tissue paper, or India paper; if some parts be very heavy, cut or tear out the heavy parts. The overlays should be pasted only slightly on the impression sheet, in case any of them should have to be taken off; paste the four corners of this sheet upon the thick sheet; let the overlays be uppermost, that you may see them; then pull another impression sheet, with the first in the tympans, and if the impression still be not even, overlay the first impression sheet again; and continue pulling impression sheets, and overlaying the first impression sheet, until you have an even and regular impression on all parts.
“As you go on with the form, if any of the overlays require to be taken off, do so; if bits are required to be taken out, or rubbed off, the tympan sheet, it must be done. In some works the outer tympan cannot be too dry, but the pressman must be the judge of this, according to the work he has to do.
“Having a good black ink well brayed on the surface of the ink block, he takes a small quantity on the balls, and distributes it well; he takes time to beat the form well and carefully, and then pulls a sheet of the right paper, dwells on the pull, or keeps down the bar a short time by means of a catch or hook, in order to make the paper take the ink clean off the types, and look a clear black upon the paper. The impression must not be too deep, as nothing must appear but the shape of the face of good types. If the impression be too deep, or too much ink on the form, more than the real shape will appear, and the work will not be fine; but if the work be fine, he goes on gently and regularly until the white paper be off. He then lays on the reiteration form; and having the overlays ready that he made before, he has very little trouble in making it ready: he makes such good register, that line falls upon line. After the reiteration is off, if he does not go on with the same work, or work of a similar size and imposition, he carefully puts by the tympan blankets, cloths, or tympan paper, and overlays till they are again wanted for the same work. All other works must have their own overlays made purposely for them.
“After the first overlays are made for their respective works, there is not so much trouble in making ready the future sheets of the same work as they are put to press; indeed, if the pressman carefully preserves his overlays, tympan paper, or cloths, he seldom has occasion to do more than alter a few of the overlays, as the paper sometimes varies in thickness, which may want a few overlays on the tympan sheet. India paper is the best for this, as it is of a soft and pliable nature, and as it lies on the tympan sheet the pressman can easily perceive if one part of it has a deeper impression than another.
“It is to be observed, that fine work cannot be made upon bad paper, or with old worn types.
“Fine work must not be hurried, as some do when they are paid for it as piecework, and spoil it, in order to make a large bill. How a master stares at this, when the same men could not earn nearly so much on scale work. These are the very men who have despised the establishment, because they could earn more money by attending fewer hours, but not on scale work. How miserable and discontented I have seen them when on scale work, although at the same time they had as much work as they could do. This has been the cause of masters reducing the price of works not paid by the scale. A few shillings per week additional ought to satisfy a man for his extra abilities on fine work.”