The black parts in every figure represent the inking apparatus.
The diagonal lines
the paper cylinders.
The perpendicular lines
the types or plates.
the track of the sheet of paper.
It was in the year 1790 that Mr. William Nicholson took out a patent for certain improvements in printing; and, on reading his specification, every one must be struck with the extent of his ideas on the subject: to him belongs, beyond doubt, the honour of the first suggestion of printing by means of cylinders; the following are his own words, divested of legal redundancies: -
"In the first place, I not only avail myself of the usual methods of making type, but I do likewise make and arrange them in a new way, viz. by rendering the tail of the letter gradually smaller; such letter (he says) may be imposed on a cylindrical surface; the disposition of types, plates, and blocks, upon a cylinder, are parts of my invention.
"In the second place, I apply the ink upon the surface of the types, plates, etc. by causing the surface of a cylinder, smeared with colouring matter, to roll over, or successively apply itself to the surface of the types, etc, or else I cause the types to apply themselves to the cylinder. It is absolutely necessary that the colouring matter be evenly distributed over this cylinder, and for this purpose I apply two, three, or more smaller cylinders, called distributing rollers, longitudinally against the colouring cylinders, so that they may be turned by the motion of the latter; if this colouring matter be very thin, I apply an even blunt edge of metal or wood against the cylinder.
"In the third place, I perform all my impressions by the action of a cylinder, or cylindrical surface; that is, I cause the paper to pass between two cylinders, one of which has the form of types attached to it, and forming part of its surface, and the other is faced with cloth, and serves to press the paper so as to take off an impression of the colour previously applied; or otherwise, I cause the form of types, previously coloured, to pass in close and successive contact with the paper wrapped round a cylinder with woollen cloth." He also described a method of raising the paper cylinder, to prevent the type from soiling the cloth.
Nicholson's arrangement for arched type.
Nicholson's arrangement for common type.
These words specify the principal parts of modern printing machines; and had Mr. Nicholson paid the same attention to any one part of his invention which he fruitlessly devoted to attempting to fix types on a cylinder, or had he known how to curve stereotype plates, he would, in all probability, have been the first maker of a printing machine, instead of merely suggesting the principles on which they might be constructed.
The first working printing machine was the invention of Mr. T. Koenig, a native of Saxony; he submitted his plans to Mr. T. Bensley, the celebrated printer, and to Mr. R. Taylor, the scientific editor of the Philosophical Magazine. These gentlemen liberally encouraged his exertions, and in 1811 he took out a patent for improvements in the common press, which, however, produced no favourable result He then turned his attention to the use of a cylinder, in order to obtain the impression, and two machines were erected for printing the Times newspaper, the reader of which was told, on the 28th of November, 1814, that he held in his hand a newspaper printed by machinery, and by the power of steam.
In these machines the type was made to pass under the cylinder, on which was wrapped the sheet of paper, the paper being firmly held to the cylinder by means of tapes; the ink was placed in a cylindrical box, from which it was forced by a powerful screw, depressing a tightly-fitted piston; thence it fell between two iron rollers: below these were placed a number of other rollers, two of which had, in addition to their rotatory motion, an end motion, that is, a motion in the direction of their length; the whole system of rollers terminated in two, which applied the ink to the types. In order to obtain a great number of impressions from the same form, a paper cylinder (i. e. a cylinder in which the paper is wrapped) was placed on each side of the inking apparatus, the form passing under both. The machine produced 1100 impressions per hour; subsequent improvements raised them to 1800 per hour.
Koenig's single, for one ride of the sheet.
The next step was the invention of a machine (also by Mr. Koenig) for printing both sides of the sheet: it resembled two single machines, placed with their cylinders towards each other, at a distance of two or three feet. The sheet was conveyed from one paper cylinder to the other by means of tapes; the track of the sheet exactly resembled the letter S, if laid horizontally, thug, S.. In the course of this track the sheet was turned over. At the first paper cylinder it received the impression from the first form, and at the second paper cylinder it received the impression from the second form; the machine printed 750 sheets, on both sides, per hour. This machine was erected for Mr. T. Bensley, and was the only one Mr. Koenig made for printing on both sides the sheet: this was in 1815.
Koenig's Double Machine, for printing both sides of the Sheet.
About this time Messrs. Donkin and Bacon were a'so contriving a printing machine; having in 1813 obtained a patent for a machine in which the types were placed upon a revolving prism; the ink was applied by a roller, which rose and fell with the irregularities of the prism; and the sheet was wrapped on another prism, so formed as to meet the irregularities of the type prism. One of these machines was erected for the university of Cambridge, and was a beautiful specimen of ingenuity and workmanship; it was, however, too complicated, and the inking was defective, which prevented its success. Nevertheless, a great point was attained; for in this machine were first introduced inking-rollers, covered with a composition of treacle and glue; in Koenig's machine the rollers were covered with leather, which never answered the purpose well.