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[BKARTS] Multigraph broadsides

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the patent on the Multigraph (March
10, 1903), the members of the small but devoted Multigraph group are
creating commemorative broadsides that will be collected in a portfolio.

We would like to distribute portfolios free of charge to printing museums,
teaching institutions and book arts centers interested in having these
unique print samples in their collections. The portfolio will also include a
photo of a #60 Multigraph and a short page of pertinent information and
should be a good resource for students interested in this alternative
printing method.

I will be compiling the distribution list - If you would like your
institution to receive a portfolio, please send a request off-list, with
your mailing address to paper@oregontrail.net

If you're unfamiliar with the Multigraph, here's a little primer:

Patented in 1903 by Harry C. Gammeter, a typewriter salesman. Its most basic
model consists of a metal drum that has vertical channels running across it.
Moveable type, very similar to regular lead type, but cut short with a large
nick cut into both sides to form a foot, is slid into the channels and the
lines are held in place by small metal clips. Originally the type was
designed to match the typewriters on the market, later fonts like Garamond,
Bodoni and the usual popular type faces were cast. Small fonts have a flat
face, like regular type, but larger sizes and image cuts were cast with
curved faces to conform to the drum.

There are two inking options. You can wrap a huge ribbon - like a typewriter
ribbon but 8.5 inches wide - around the drum (over the top of the type form)
or use the optional ink and form rollers with oil or rubber based ink.

A rubber platen roller sits underneath the drum and paper is squeezed
between them by cranking a side handle. The printed page can have a nice
impression, just like type printed on a platen or flatbed press.

With typewriter font printed with the typewriter ribbon, the printed page
was indistinguishable from an individually typed letter - something that
people at the time were proud to receive from a big company. Little did they
know that their letter was one of thousands created from the same form with
only their name and address added by a real person.

Later models incorporated elaborate attachments for storing, setting and
redistributing the type. You can view an image of type set on the drum and
the resulting print at the top of the page at:

One of the benefits of the Multigraph for artists working in the book arts
is that you can print 8.5 by 14 inch letterpress work with a press that
takes up less table-top space than a typewriter. (Although, like any
printing endeavor, you need lots of extras - type, type cases, tools, clips,

How did these nifty little presses fall out of the awareness of printers?
They were used by office workers, mainly for cranking out solicitation
letters, so as soon as something faster and easier came along, they had no
sentimental attachment to the Multigraph.


Pendleton, Oregon

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