June 7

Whenever contemporary pressmen discuss “wild” printing presses, the conversation invariably turns to the Hoe Patented Ten Cylinder Type-Revolving Press, illustrations of which appear in most histories of printing. The inventor of the machine, Richard March Hoe, died on this day in 1886 in Florence, Italy. He was the inventive genius of the Hoe family of press manufacturers who contributed so much to American press design during the 19th century.

The type-revolving press was the first fully successful rotary printing machine, revolutionizing the production of newspapers. In 1846, the first model—a four-cylinder machine—was installed in the office of the Public Ledger of Philadelphia. At the time, 3,600 impressions per hour were the maximum obtainable on any cylinder press, but Hoe’s machine—with four men as feeders, each turning out 2,000 impressions per hour—was 8,000. Publishers who had not been able to produce sufficient quantities of newspapers to meet the demand were wildly enthusiastic, not only in the United States but in Europe, where it became necessary to build a manufacturing facility to maintain production.

An early Hoe catalogue perhaps best describes this machine which became the standard newspaper press for twenty years, until the web-fed presses were introduced:

“It is,” stated the catalogue, “as its name indicates, on the rotary principle; that is, the form of type is placed on the surface of a horizontal revolving cylinder of about four and a half feet in diameter. The form occupies a segment of only about one-fourth of the surface of the cylinder, the remainder being used as an ink-distributing surface. Around this main cylinder, and parallel with it, are placed smaller impression cylinders, varying in number from two to ten, according to the size of the machine. The large cylinder being put in motion, the form of types is carried successively to all the impression cylinders and receives the impression of the types as the form passes. Thus as many sheets are printed at each revolution of the main cylinder as there are impression cylinders around it. One person is required at each impression cylinder to supply the sheets of paper, which are taken at the proper moment by fingers or grippers, and after being printed are conveyed by tapes and laid in heaps by self-acting flyers, thereby dispensing with the hands required in ordinary machines to receive and pile the sheets. The grippers hold the sheet securely, so that the thinnest newspaper may be printed without waste.

“The ink is contained in a fountain, placed beneath the main cylinder, and is conveyed by means of distributing rollers to the distributing surface on the main cylinder. This surface, being lower, or less in diameter, than the form of types, passes by the impression cylinder without touching. For each impression cylinder there are two inking rollers. Each page of the paper is locked up on a detached segment of the large cylinder, which segment constitutes its bed and chase.”

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