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The Lost World of the Craft Printer

by Maggie Holtzberg-Call

  • ISBN: 9780252017995
  • ISBN10: 0252017994

The Lost World of the Craft Printer

by Maggie Holtzberg-Call

  • List Price: $27.50
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Univ of Illinois Pr
  • Publish date: 01/01/1992
  • ISBN: 9780252017995
  • ISBN10: 0252017994
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Description: In the early 1950s the printing trade disowned five centuries of its own history. Within two decades, computer-generated paper phototype had supplanted machine-cast metal type. Every aspect of a process that had changed little since the days of Gutenberg was revolutionized. Thousands of printers were displaced, and a sense of loss--of job status and craftsmanship--beset many of those who had endured the transition from "hot" to "cold" type. This study of nostalgia and the folklore of the workplace reconstructs both the actual and the remembered worlds of the hot-metal printer. Quoting at length from interviews with stonehands, compositors, and Linotype operators, Maggie Holtzberg-Call describes not only the material components of their profession but also their customs, values, and vocabulary--the stuff of which the printers' collective memory is made. She finds that a significant number of printers independently developed similar responses to the deskilling of their craft and the threat of unemployment. Demonstrating a widespread consistency in themes and expressive forms in the printers' occupational narratives, Holtzberg-Call shows that what once served as the printers' rhetoric of tradition is now their rhetoric of displacement. Initiation rites, long apprenticeships, a complex and peculiar jargon, and a gallery of legendary figures once bound hot-metal printers into a specialized, highly regarded occupational folk community. The hot-metal printers' lore has survived in an exemplary form that functions as a source of reconciliation with the demise of their craft. Holtzberg-Call analyzes how and why the printers traditionalize and idealize their work experience, drawing parallelsbetween the shift from mechanical to computer typesetting and an equally disconcerting transition in the nineteenth century, when Linotype deposed handset type. She also shares her knowledge of the many aspects of hot-metal printing culture, from the life of the tramp printer to the meanings of various printing terms to the operation of a Linotype machine. One gains a sense of the conditions in the old type shops, where long hours, excessive heat, and poorly ventilated fumes from solvent, ink, and molten lead were the crucible in which camaraderie, pride, and fulfillment were forged. In addition to interviewing hot-metal printers, Holtzberg-Call has spoken with people involved in virtually all other facets of the industry, from proofreaders and computer keyboarders to graphic designers and typographical union officers. The book also draws upon the author's extensive readings of printing histories and trade journals, and her own experiences in printing and publishing. The emergence of an information economy from our industrial past is marked by a growing population of technologically displaced workers. The notion of folk communities--like hot-metal printers--defined by occupational rather than temporal or spatial identities merits our attention, for in their lore are the resources for successful adaptation.
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Seller: Monroe Street Books
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227 pages. Hardcover. B/w illustrations throughout. Very clean copy, inside
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227 pages. Hardcover. B/w illustrations throughout. Very clean copy, inside
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As new in as new dust jacket with Brodart cover. The text is clean and pages
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As new in as new dust jacket with Brodart cover. The text is clean and pages
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