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The Art of Story Writing : CHAPTER XL ELECTROTYPING AND STEREOTYPING

by Nathaniel C. Fowler, JR   

CHAPTER XL ELECTROTYPING AND STEREOTYPING

PRACTICALLY all books are printed from electrotype or stereotype plates, although comparatively few books are stereotyped, the electrotype being used almost universally.

Plates are made for four reasons: first, to save the wear of the type; secondly, because a very much larger edition may be printed from electrotypes than is possible from type; thirdly, because type forms are unsafe, as some letters may drop out while in the press; and, fourthly, because it would be altogether too expensive to hold a book in type. By the use of electrotype plates subsequent editions, up to even two or three hundred thousand, may be printed at short notice.

The process of electrotyping is as follows: An impression is taken in wax of the type form. The surface of the wax is dusted with graphite, the material which is used for the making of pencils, and which is of almost microscopic fineness. As graphite is metallic, it is a conductor of electricity. The wax matrix, or mold, with the graphite upon it, which only covers the surface, is placed in a bath of acid, and is connected by wire with the negative pole of the battery. A piece of sheet copper is submerged, and attached to a wire leading to the positive pole of the battery. The electricity passes from the copper to the mold covered with graphite. This process continues until a copper plate of sufficient thickness to handle is produced. It is then backed with lead, mounted on wood or blocks made of other material, and is then ready for printing.

The art of stereotyping consists of making a mold of the type in plaster of Paris or papier-mache. Papier-mache, when moist, is of about the same consistency as a spit-ball. It is placed upon the type form and beaten in with brushes, producing a mold into which molten lead is poured.

This process is seldom used for books or for job printing, and is maintained principally by newspapers, where speed is of more consequence than quality. The result is far inferior to that obtained from electrotyping.