Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Ackley Publishing Co.: Part 2

Behind the main Ackley Publishing building is another building filled with antique printing equipment.  Mayor Daggs welcomes students/classes from Iowa State University who come here to see first-hand how printing used to be done.
The building houses 1500-1600 fonts, some of which are shown above.  Changing fonts hasn't always been a one-click experience!  Until the 1890s, type was set by hand.  The linotype machine was invented by Ottmar Mergenthaler in 1884 and was commonly used until the end of the 1970s.  

If you wanted to print something, the first step would be to choose your font magazine from those shown in the first photo.  You would bring your magazine and place it in the linotype machine above. An ingot of lead, tin, and antimony would be dipped in the melting pot on the side of the machine, which would be heated to 540 degrees Fahrenheit.  
Using the keyboard, you would compose what you wanted to write.  Once you had a line written, it would be cast.  After a letter is used, its matrix is mechanically carried back to the magazine, and the matrix's teeth act like a key, allowing it to drop back into only its proper place.

Once the type is set/cast, it's used in letterpress printers (like the one shown in Part 1). After the project is complete, the metal is recycled--melted back into ingots and used again.  

The printer above was made in 1929.  For a number of years it sat behind another print shop gathering rust.  Mr. Daggs asked the owner if he could purchase it, but the owner did not want to sell it yet--maybe someday.  Finally he brought a tarp over and covered it.  "What are you doing?" the owner asked.  "Protecting my investment," Mr. Daggs replied.  A couple years later the man finally sold it to him.  The tarp had helped a little, but it still needed extensive rust clean-up before it could be used.
Above you can see how a gold foil wedding invitation is made.  The paper is placed on one side of the foil, and the photosensitive magnesium plate on the other.  The plate is heated to 220 degrees Fahrenheit, and the heat transfers the foil onto the paper.  
Another thing Mr. Daggs does is print cards and flyers with witty sayings using his letterpress machines.  Some that you can find throughout the shop are shown above. One of my all-time favorites is "STRESSED spelled backwards is DESSERTS."  The Kwitchurbeliakin sign is just one example of language-mangling that hints at the town's strongly German roots.

Besides being a historic treasure trove, Ackley Publishing has great prices and excellent quality workmanship.    

To top it off, the Daggs always take the time to talk with you about life and current events; they'll stop everything and pray for you if you have a problem and ask for prayer.  And God answers their prayers.  

If you're ever in the Ackley, Iowa area, I recommend you think of something that needs printed.  
Many thanks to Mr. Daggs for the tour!  

Many thanks also to Charity of With Charity for volunteering to act as my photographer and taking all the photos in this post and Part 1.  I have a fantastic sister, eh?  Be sure to check out her blog!

50 comments:

  1. Beautiful pictures Bethany.
    Unbelievable what they had to do in earlier times to print a newspaper or magazine.
    Nice to see all those old things, especially the printer 1929.
    Best regards, Irma

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  2. You have given us a really nice tour of the printing company. Your sister takes excellent photos. The printing process you've described is full of fascination for me. It just seems so complicated and time consuming ... How did we ever get all those great printed items back before computers? : - ) I think we need to have more appreciation for people like Mr. Daggs.

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    1. Agreed. It used to take a lot more work to print, but people did a good job at it.

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  3. bethany it is very interesting place for visit especially for younger generation of digital era

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    1. Agreed. I am so accustomed to how things are done these days with computers that it was pretty neat to see how everything worked mechanically 40 or so years ago.

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  4. really makes you respect those that labored to bring the news and other items to life in print.

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  5. I remember our home town newspaper in the 60's that used this process. You could always tell the press man, he was the one covered in ink! Nice series, Bethany!

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  6. The whole process of printing was a lot of work at that time, Bethany. You could always tell someone that worked in that end of printing by the ink that was "ground into" his hands, nails, etc. xo Diana

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    1. Interesting--and I don't doubt that. There are trade marks to just about every trade.

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  7. wow so much that goes into printing on those machines. so many fonts, how cool is that.

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  8. Wowww!!! I really like how they used working at that time. Very interesting post dear! Liuba x

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  9. How wonderful is it that they share this history with everyone?!

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  10. I love a journey back in time, dear Bethany, and this one is thoroughly fascinating. Thanks so much for sharing.

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  11. Printing was so much harder way back when!

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  12. i have seen and watched the "old fashioned" way. it was more of an art but it is a lot more convenient now!!

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  13. What an interesting post! Printing is fascinating! The advice about proof reading is still valid today with all the computers and auto-correct - it's unbelievable how many errors I detect almost every day in our paper!

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    1. True. I even occasionally find mistakes in the books I read...and in my own writing! Their our many ways too make mistakes that spell-check may not find. ;)

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  14. I so enjoyed your sharing this with us, thank you, Bethany.
    Amazing what they had to do back then. Times change quickly though, don't they?

    Have s beautiful day.
    Debbie

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    1. They do, Debbie. Have a beautiful day as well!

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  15. Olá amiga, hoje quero agradeçer a Deus pelo dom da sua vida, e desejar a você e sua família
    um feliz e santo Natal, cheio de saúde e alegria!!!
    Que seu coração esteja preparado para receber o Menino Deus!!!
    Um grande abraço, Marie.

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    1. Thank you for the good wishes! God bless!

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  16. I'm always amazed at how much things have changed since then. I would love for my daughters to take a tour of an old publishing company like that to see how things were printed back in the day. Blessings... :)

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    1. It would be awesome if your daughters could take a tour! I wonder if there are any shops like this in your area.

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  17. I'm amazed that there were so MANY fonts. Wow! Also love the lines and angles of your photographs. They are works of art in themselves. Thanks for this, Bethany! Great to be reminded of a history that is fading so quickly into obscurity.

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    1. My sister gets all the credit for the photos. Yes, it is neat to see how things used to be done! :)

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  18. Like a class in history. Very informative and interesting.

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  19. Love photos and such a fun experience! I really like the witty signs!

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  20. Wow, that is seriously cool! And definitely makes for a more interesting experience than merely reading about old-fashioned printing techniques in your textbook!

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    1. Agreed! Seeing things in person is a lot neater than reading about them.

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  21. Hello Bethany, I enjoyed these two post.. It is interesting seeing the old fashioned way the publishing was done.. Wonderful photos. Enjoy your weekend!

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  22. Have you ever set type? i have done it a couple of times, and it was fun, since I was not under any time pressure...

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    1. That sounds interesting! No, I've never set type.

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  23. This looks like a place with fascinating history, indeed. I so enjoyed getting to get a feel for the history of it, the mechanics of some of what is used how, and especially the beautiful old-fashioned quality and charm of the machines. The detail and all that is involved is also incredible. I am amazed by places like this and it was so neat to get an inside look :)

    Have a wonderful day, Bethany!!
    Wishing you every blessing of this season and the start to the new year to come!

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    1. Blessings to you as well, Jazzmin! Thanks!

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  24. Wow those machines look pretty pretty complicated,they are huge! Thanks for sharing and for taking the time to visit and blog about these fantastic places.

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    1. Definitely a pleasure, Laura! :) Thanks for visiting!

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  25. Wonderful historic pieces! I love the hand machine...and especially the metal print plates! And, it all makes me just think of Benjamin Franklin. :-)

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