In quoting my old pressman's observations again, it will be perceived that he is speaking of the practice when pelt balls were in use.
“When a pressman is engaged to work in a strange office, if there be no balls for him, he puts an old and a new pelt into the pelt pot, and, while his pelts are soaking, he inquires whether he has to wet paper or not; if he has to wet it, he does it in a large trough lined with lead, containing clean water.
“He holds the middle of the back of each quire in one hand, and the fore edge with the other hand, and draws it quickly through the water, the back first; lays it on a clean wrapper (which is laid on a clean paper board); opens part of the quire, leaves that part on the board, and draws the remainder of the quire, and all the other quires in the same proportion, through the water as often as necessary, till he has wet all the heap; then he places another paper board on the top of the heap, and puts sufficient weight on it; in this state it continues till the paper is all properly damped, by the moisture becoming diffused through the whole heap, except it be for fine work, when he turns the paper as often as he thinks necessary, pressing it at each turning; and common work would look better if the paper were turned.
“Paper for different works being of various qualities, it is impossible to form a regular judgment of how many dips in each quire all sorts of paper require; therefore the wetter must be cautious in examining, while wetting, whether each sort is of a soft, or spongy, middling, hard, or harsh nature; also to consider whether it be for a light or a heavy form, and dip each sort accordingly.”
In large establishments the pressmen do not wet the paper, but there is one or more persons appointed to that duty solely, who also turn it and press it, so that it is delivered to the pressmen to print, more uniformly in good condition, than where they wet it. See Token. Token Sheet.