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Dampening

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  • Arthur Graham
    I read Yehuda Miklaf s suggestion on dampening. Note that what I have to say may refer only to the small runs that I do, usually 40-70 copies. I do the same
    Message 1 of 9 , Mar 10, 2002
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      I read Yehuda Miklaf's suggestion on dampening. Note that what I have to say may refer only to the small runs that I do, usually 40-70 copies. I do the same as Yehuda--soak one sheet, then add a number (1, 2, 3 depending on the paper) of dry sheets, add another soaked sheet, and so forth.

      The number of dry sheets may be different for different papers. Sometimes I will do two dry sheets, a wet sheet, three dry sheets, a wet sheet, then back to two dry sheets. Also, I give consideration to the bottom and top of the pile. If the top and/or bottom sheets are wet, the top and/or bottom of the pile will end up damper than the middle sheets, and it will take a much longer time than necessary to achieve even dampness. I vary the order and number of wet and dry sheets (at the top and bottom of the pile) to avoid this problem.

      The amount of time the paper is soaked is different for each variety of paper. Some are more like blotters and should soak for a very short time. Others need more time to absorb the water. It is necessary to shake off most of the water before placing the dampened sheet over the dry ones. I alternate the placement (e.g., upper right corner, lower left corner) of the more watery corner of the sheet. Also, using a weight, if it does not press evenly on the entire surface of the top sheet, it may create a permanent dent. I do not find it necessary to place a weight over the papers I use.

      Sometimes, to save time in achieving uniform dampness, after an hour or so I rearrange the pile of paper--turning over every other sheet and reversing the top to bottom placement of every other sheet. As to how long it takes to dampen evenly--some papers take a few hours, some are ready overnight, and some take longer than that.

      Arthur Graham


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • knharper@fuse.net
      Gerald: Your question about ink spread and dampening the paper was a good one. I had experienced some difficulty with this a few months ago, and it kinda put
      Message 2 of 9 , Nov 27, 2002
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        Gerald: Your question about ink spread and dampening the paper was a good one.
        I had experienced some difficulty with this a few months ago, and it kinda put me off
        of the dampening process. I have also read many methods of paper dampening,
        some of which resemble voo-doo. I know a few printers who never print dry,
        however, and their work is quite nice. Is dampening the paper something that one
        always wants to do, or is it a technique that is good at some times and not at
        others?

        Katie Harper


        > From: "Gerald Lange" <bieler@...>
        > Date: 2002/11/27 Wed AM 05:20:10 EST
        > To: PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
        > Subject: [PPLetterpress] Re: Letterpress v. Offset Inks
        >
        > Peter and others
        >
        > I use magesium carbonate for most inks, and I tend to use a lot of it,
        > but I'm working with Vandercooks and dampened paper. On a C&P,
        > printing on domestic grade papers, you would not want an ink too
        > "short" or stiff. I will occasionally cut an ink with varnish but very
        > cautiously. Cutting is much more of a dramatic change to the
        > characteristics of an ink than adding mag carb (which only increases
        > viscosity or resistance to flow). I suspect inks designated as
        > letterpress are much better for machine driven presses and
        > lithographic inks (especially those intended for printmaking) are
        > better for hand operated presses. Commercial offset inks I have not
        > tried but I suspect that if Speed and Katie have experienced success
        > with them those are certainly the inks they would want to use.
        >
        > Thanks to all who responsed to my question, especially as it pertained
        > to dampening. I think this may well be a matter of reaction to hydration.
        >
        > Gerald
        >
        > --- In PPLetterpress@y..., Peter Fraterdeus <peterf@d...> wrote:
        > > And what about magensium carbonate?
        > >
        > > I'd often use this in a long ink to shorten it.
        > > Makes for a lovely matt finish in the ink also.
        > >
        > > P
        > >
        > > At 9:38 AM -0500 2002-11-26, Katie Harper wrote:
        > > >I was also once told to cut offset inks with a bit of varnish, but have
        > > >wondered then and now why I should do that as the inks seem to be
        > "loose"
        > > >enough as is. What would the varnish do to improve things? What are the
        > > >downsides? Can anyone explain? Thanks.
        > > >
        > > >
        > > >
        > > >
        > > >Katie Harper
        > > >Ars Brevis Press
        > > >Cincinnati, OH
        > > >513-233-9588
        > > >http://www.arsbrevispress.com
        > > >
        > > >
        > > >
        > > >
        > > >
        > > >> From: speedgray@a...
        > > >> Reply-To: PPLetterpress@y...
        > > >> Date: Tue, 26 Nov 2002 08:00:26 EST
        > > >> To: PPLetterpress@y...
        > > >> Subject: Re: [PPLetterpress] Letterpress v. Offset Inks
        > > >>
        > > >> I have been using offset inks on letterpress for years; it works
        > great!
        > > >> Offset inks are formulated to resist the dampening solution in
        > the offset
        > > >> process, and are generally higher in pigment content than the
        > letterpress
        > > >> equivalent.
        > > >>
        > > >> Due to the heavier body of offset inks, I sometimes cut them with
        > some 00
        > > >> varnish to make them flow easier. Other than that, they have been
        > my only
        > > >> inks in the shop.
        > > >>
        > > >> Speed Gray, APA 736
        > > >> The Gray Quill Press
        > > >> Grand Rapids, MI
        > > >>
        > > >>
        > > >> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        > > >>
        > > >>
        > > >>
        > > >> ? To respond to a post or post a message to the membership:
        > > >> PPLetterpress@y...
        > > >> ? Encountering problems? contact:
        > > >> PPLetterpress-owner@y...
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        > > >> PPLetterpress-unsubscribe@y...
        > > >>
        > > >> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to
        > http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
        > > >>
        > > >>
        > > >
        > > >
        > > >
        > > >ï To respond to a post or post a message to the membership:
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        > > >ï Encountering problems? contact:
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        > >
        > >
        > > --
        > > AzByCx DwEvFu GtHsIr JqKpLo MnNmOl PkQjRi ShTgUf VeWdXc YbZa&@
        > > Peter Fraterdeus -:- peterf@s... -:- Galena, Illinois
        > > dezineCafe : www.dezinecafe.com | A*IFonts : www.alphabets.com
        > >
        > > http://www.midsummernightstamps.com
        > > Magical Images from the Moon's Garden!
        > >
        > > http://www.semiotx.com "Words that work."(tm)
        > >
        > > BookSense http://www.booksense.com
        > > Independent local booksellers on the web.
        >
        >
        >
        >
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      • Gerald Lange
        ... good one. ... kinda put me off ... dampening, ... print dry, ... something that one ... and not at ... Katie I tend to dampen most of the time but I am
        Message 3 of 9 , Nov 27, 2002
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          --- In PPLetterpress@y..., <knharper@f...> wrote:
          > Gerald: Your question about ink spread and dampening the paper was a
          good one.
          > I had experienced some difficulty with this a few months ago, and it
          kinda put me off
          > of the dampening process. I have also read many methods of paper
          dampening,
          > some of which resemble voo-doo. I know a few printers who never
          print dry,
          > however, and their work is quite nice. Is dampening the paper
          something that one
          > always wants to do, or is it a technique that is good at some times
          and not at
          > others?
          >
          > Katie Harper

          Katie

          I tend to dampen most of the time but I am usually printing on
          handmades or mouldmades. The process makes the paper much more
          receptive to the ink.

          I won't dampen commercial grade papers because of the severity of the
          grain direction, but then, I rarely use domestic grades. Occasionally
          I will run a job with Mohawk Letterpress or Curtiss Flannel(sp?) but I
          think both of these are long discontinued (I'm well-stocked!!!).

          Some text weight mouldmades such as the Zerkal(sp?) line (Frankfurt
          White & Cream, Nideggen, etc) don't necessarily need to be dampened.

          I follow the Allen technique/Everson rationale and I rarely have any
          problems that would be attributed to the dampening process.

          Gerald
        • Peter Fraterdeus
          Katie From my limited experience, I d say any sufficiently rag paper will benefit from dampening. OF this, Sebastian Carter of Rampant Lions Press once said
          Message 4 of 9 , Nov 27, 2002
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            Katie

            From my limited experience, I'd say any sufficiently rag paper will benefit from dampening. OF this, Sebastian Carter of Rampant Lions Press once said 'damp to the cheek, but not to the finger' In other words, if it's glistening with moisture, you're gonna have problems for sure.

            One of the biggest problems I found in dampening was getting the paper evenly damp across the whole surface. Otherwise, of course, there will be patches of better and worse effect.

            The whole reason thereto is to hydrate the cellulose fibers in the paper, softening them and reducing (I imagine) the internal surface tension, allowing in the first case, the type surface to make a solid even impression across the inked surface, and in the second, allowing the ink to penetrate into the fibers at the molecular level, to some degree, rather than sitting on the surface.

            To this effect, I expect some form of 'wetting' addition to the water (a drop of glycerin, perhaps, or a very little soap?) might enhance the effect with a very little bit of dampening.

            This is all thought experiment at this time, as I haven't had a place to print for a couple of years now! (Soon I hope!)

            In terms of the technique, I used to soak a stack of felts, and then press as much water as possible out of them, overnight under the standing press, stacked between 18x24 sheets of 3/4 inch plywood, which I wrapped with plastic sheeting.

            The next day, I'd flip and turn the felts in quarter stacks, and press again for a few hours.

            When the felts were evenly damped, I'd layer a half dozen sheets of my stock, cut to production size, in between each felt, and build a layer cake. If the sheets were small enough, then setting multiples of 2-up, 4-up or whatever, on each felt.

            This whole cake is then wrapped in a large felt, set under the plywood sheet, but not pressed until the paper has absorbed the dampness all around. Pressing too soon will emboss wrinkles in the stock.

            After some hours, again, flip and turn the stacks, taking half of each and flipping the inside sheets to be against the felts, and rebuild the cake again. After all this, the sheets will be nicely damp across the board.

            Again, they're not WET, but the difference in the printed piece is like night & day!

            If you're doing 5000 letterheads, it's pointless, of course... But 100 invitations yes!

            The final point is that with proper storage, the paper should already have a good bit of moisture in it, which may well make all of the above somewhat academic for anything but the printing of high-density woodcuts, engravings, or wood type sized letters.

            Looking forward to getting back to the shop!

            Peter
            Galena, Illinois
            on the edge of the Mississippi...

            At 10:45 AM -0500 2002-11-27, <knharper@...> wrote:
            >Gerald: Your question about ink spread and dampening the paper was a good one.
            >I had experienced some difficulty with this a few months ago, and it kinda put me off
            >of the dampening process. I have also read many methods of paper dampening,
            >some of which resemble voo-doo. I know a few printers who never print dry,
            >however, and their work is quite nice. Is dampening the paper something that one
            >always wants to do, or is it a technique that is good at some times and not at
            >others?
            >
            >Katie Harper
            >
            >
            >> From: "Gerald Lange" <bieler@...>
            >> Date: 2002/11/27 Wed AM 05:20:10 EST
            >> To: PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
            >> Subject: [PPLetterpress] Re: Letterpress v. Offset Inks
            >>
            >> Peter and others
            >>
            >> I use magesium carbonate for most inks, and I tend to use a lot of it,
            >> but I'm working with Vandercooks and dampened paper. On a C&P,
            >> printing on domestic grade papers, you would not want an ink too
            >> "short" or stiff. I will occasionally cut an ink with varnish but very
            >> cautiously. Cutting is much more of a dramatic change to the
            >> characteristics of an ink than adding mag carb (which only increases
            > > viscosity or resistance to flow). I suspect inks designated as
            >> letterpress are much better for machine driven presses and
            >> lithographic inks (especially those intended for printmaking) are
            >> better for hand operated presses. Commercial offset inks I have not
            >> tried but I suspect that if Speed and Katie have experienced success
            >> with them those are certainly the inks they would want to use.
            >>
            >> Thanks to all who responsed to my question, especially as it pertained
            >> to dampening. I think this may well be a matter of reaction to hydration.
            >>
            >> Gerald
            >>
            >> --- In PPLetterpress@y..., Peter Fraterdeus <peterf@d...> wrote:
            >> > And what about magensium carbonate?
            >> >
            >> > I'd often use this in a long ink to shorten it.
            >> > Makes for a lovely matt finish in the ink also.
            >> >
            >> > P
            >> >
            >> > At 9:38 AM -0500 2002-11-26, Katie Harper wrote:
            >> > >I was also once told to cut offset inks with a bit of varnish, but have
            >> > >wondered then and now why I should do that as the inks seem to be
            >> "loose"
            >> > >enough as is. What would the varnish do to improve things? What are the
            >> > >downsides? Can anyone explain? Thanks.
            >> > >
            >> > >
            >> > >
            >> > >
            >> > >Katie Harper
            >> > >Ars Brevis Press
            >> > >Cincinnati, OH
            > > > >513-233-9588
            > > > >http://www.arsbrevispress.com
            > > > >
            > > > >
            > > > >
            > > > >
            > > > >
            > > > >> From: speedgray@a...
            > > > >> Reply-To: PPLetterpress@y...
            > > > >> Date: Tue, 26 Nov 2002 08:00:26 EST
            > > > >> To: PPLetterpress@y...
            >> > >> Subject: Re: [PPLetterpress] Letterpress v. Offset Inks
            >> > >>
            >> > >> I have been using offset inks on letterpress for years; it works
            >> great!
            >> > >> Offset inks are formulated to resist the dampening solution in
            >> the offset
            >> > >> process, and are generally higher in pigment content than the
            >> letterpress
            >> > >> equivalent.
            >> > >>
            >> > >> Due to the heavier body of offset inks, I sometimes cut them with
            >> some 00
            >> > >> varnish to make them flow easier. Other than that, they have been
            >> my only
            >> > >> inks in the shop.
            >> > >>
            >> > >> Speed Gray, APA 736
            >> > >> The Gray Quill Press
            >> > >> Grand Rapids, MI
            >> > >>
            >> > >>
            >> > >> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            >> > >>
            >> > >>
            >> > >>
            >> > >> ? To respond to a post or post a message to the membership:
            >> > >> PPLetterpress@y...
            >> > >> ? Encountering problems? contact:
            >> > >> PPLetterpress-owner@y...
            >> > >> ? To unsubscribe:
            >> > >> PPLetterpress-unsubscribe@y...
            >> > >>
            >> > >> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to
            >> http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
            >> > >>
            >> > >>
            >> > >
            >> > >
            >> > >
            >> > >ï To respond to a post or post a message to the membership:
            >> > >PPLetterpress@y...
            >> > >ï Encountering problems? contact:
            >> > >PPLetterpress-owner@y...
            >> > >ï To unsubscribe:
            >> > >PPLetterpress-unsubscribe@y...
            >> > >
            >> > >Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to
            >> http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
            >> >
            >> >
            >> > --
            >> > AzByCx DwEvFu GtHsIr JqKpLo MnNmOl PkQjRi ShTgUf VeWdXc YbZa&@
            >> > Peter Fraterdeus -:- peterf@s... -:- Galena, Illinois
            >> > dezineCafe : www.dezinecafe.com | A*IFonts : www.alphabets.com
            >> >
            >> > http://www.midsummernightstamps.com
            >> > Magical Images from the Moon's Garden!
            >> >
            >> > http://www.semiotx.com "Words that work."(tm)
            >> >
            >> > BookSense http://www.booksense.com
            >> > Independent local booksellers on the web.
            >>
            >>
            >>
            >>
            >> • To respond to a post or post a message to the membership:
            >> PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
            >> • Encountering problems? contact:
            >> PPLetterpress-owner@yahoogroups.com
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            >> PPLetterpress-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
            >>
            >> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
            >>
            >>
            >>
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >• To respond to a post or post a message to the membership:
            >PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
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          • Gerald Lange
            ... benefit from dampening. OF this, Sebastian Carter of Rampant Lions Press once said damp to the cheek, but not to the finger In other words, if it s
            Message 5 of 9 , Nov 27, 2002
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              > From my limited experience, I'd say any sufficiently rag paper will
              benefit from dampening. OF this, Sebastian Carter of Rampant Lions
              Press once said 'damp to the cheek, but not to the finger' In other
              words, if it's glistening with moisture, you're gonna have problems
              for sure.
              >

              Peter

              I was involved in a fairly long book project with the
              photographer/bookmaker Jeffrey Atherton and I told him about the "cool
              to the skin of the neck not to the hand" test for correctly dampened
              paper. Years later on he was explaining to someone about some of the craft
              tricks etc he had learned on the project and told of this. I picked up
              a scrap of notebook paper and told Jeff to hold it to his neck. He did so
              and then looked at me in disbelief as if I had betrayed him. All paper is
              cool to the skin of your neck.

              Gerald
            • Katie Harper
              See? Voodoo! The process sounds a lot like making the perfect martini, to wit: wave a jigger of gin and say the word vermouth over it three times... I use
              Message 6 of 9 , Nov 27, 2002
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                See? Voodoo! The process sounds a lot like making the perfect martini, to
                wit: wave a jigger of gin and say the word "vermouth" over it three times...

                I use mostly mouldmade or handmade papers, so it sounds like I need to
                revisit working damp, at least for some projects, and will try some
                experiments and various techniques (ie, voodoo charms and chants...)

                Thanks!

                Happy Thanksgiving to All!


                Katie Harper
                Ars Brevis Press
                Cincinnati, OH
                513-233-9588
                http://www.arsbrevispress.com





                > From: "Gerald Lange" <bieler@...>
                > Reply-To: PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
                > Date: Wed, 27 Nov 2002 22:31:05 -0000
                > To: PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
                > Subject: [PPLetterpress] Re: Dampening
                >
                >> From my limited experience, I'd say any sufficiently rag paper will
                > benefit from dampening. OF this, Sebastian Carter of Rampant Lions
                > Press once said 'damp to the cheek, but not to the finger' In other
                > words, if it's glistening with moisture, you're gonna have problems
                > for sure.
                >>
                >
                > Peter
                >
                > I was involved in a fairly long book project with the
                > photographer/bookmaker Jeffrey Atherton and I told him about the "cool
                > to the skin of the neck not to the hand" test for correctly dampened
                > paper. Years later on he was explaining to someone about some of the craft
                > tricks etc he had learned on the project and told of this. I picked up
                > a scrap of notebook paper and told Jeff to hold it to his neck. He did so
                > and then looked at me in disbelief as if I had betrayed him. All paper is
                > cool to the skin of your neck.
                >
                > Gerald
                >
                >
                >
                >
                > • To respond to a post or post a message to the membership:
                > PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
                > • Encountering problems? contact:
                > PPLetterpress-owner@yahoogroups.com
                > • To unsubscribe:
                > PPLetterpress-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                >
                > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                >
                >
              • David Goodrich
                My limited experience with dampening plus some rational thinking about the physics of printing tells me that the basic function of dampening is to soften the
                Message 7 of 9 , Nov 27, 2002
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                  My limited experience with dampening plus some rational thinking about the
                  physics of printing tells me that the basic function of dampening is to
                  soften the fibers of paper so that ink will transfer evenly to it. Paper
                  has an extremely uneven surface, at least at the microscopic level, and is
                  also very hard. When the flat surface of type (or PPL plate) comes into
                  contact with paper, ink will only transfer to the uppermost parts of the
                  paper that the type actually contacts. This can be improved by increasing
                  the pressure (adding packing) so as to compress the paper enough that ink
                  will transfer to the low places as well as the high. Because the paper is
                  hard, increased pressure can also just punch the type through the page,
                  without actually compressing the fibers. A hard packing helps here.
                  Dampening the paper softens the fibers, making them more easily
                  compressible. When the type is able to compress the fibers into a flat
                  surface, ink will transfer evenly and you will get a good print.

                  Ink spread, or bleeding, seems to be an unwanted side effect. The idea is
                  to get the paper damp enough to be easily compressed, but not so wet as to
                  invite ink spread.

                  The type of press you are using also is a factor. I use an iron handpress,
                  which exerts pressure over the entire page at once. It is difficult to get
                  enough pressure to compress all the fibers at once, especially when printing
                  from wood type or lino blocks. Dampening the paper is essential here for
                  all but the softest papers. A cylinder press, like a Vandercook, can exert
                  a tremendous amount of pressure over a tiny band as the paper moves through
                  it, and dampening the paper may be unnecessary. I do not think dampening
                  should be necessary, even on the handpress, when printing from small (text
                  size) type, although fine printers like Rummonds, espouse it.

                  It is interesting to note that printers used dampened paper from the time of
                  Gutenberg until the mid nineteenth century. American printers starting
                  printing dry about 1850. This is about the time the industry converted to
                  cylinder presses.

                  Dampening can also produce other problems: Dampened paper expands, and not
                  evenly in all directions. When it returns to its original size, there will
                  be a slight distortion of the image. This can be a significant problem: I
                  recently printed a page from PPL plates that had lines extending to its
                  edges. After the paper was dampened, the vertical lines were still OK but
                  the horizontal ones ended about 3/16 from the edges. Another problem is
                  drying. Dampened paper can curl or cockle, especially if too damp.
                  Ideally, dampened paper should be dried between sheets of acid-free blotting
                  paper and then pressed in a standing press. I was able to cure some serious
                  cockling by redampening the paper and drying it this way.

                  All in all, if you can avoid dampening, by all means do so.

                  David.
                • Gerald Lange
                  ... time of ... converted to ... Hi David Do you think this is the reason for the switch? or was it the result of the American invention of the
                  Message 8 of 9 , Nov 27, 2002
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                    >
                    > It is interesting to note that printers used dampened paper from the
                    time of
                    > Gutenberg until the mid nineteenth century. American printers starting
                    > printing dry about 1850. This is about the time the industry
                    converted to
                    > cylinder presses.

                    Hi David

                    Do you think this is the reason for the switch? or was it the result
                    of the American invention of the Fourdriner(sp?—my reference books are
                    in storage) paper machine, which eliminated the need for handmade
                    paper? and served as the impetus for the success of the machine-driven
                    cylinder presses. Or do I have my dates wrong?

                    >
                    > All in all, if you can avoid dampening, by all means do so.

                    My recommendation to others as well, but I do love to print with dampened paper
                    and find printing an extremely tedious process when I am not.

                    Gerald
                  • John Risseeuw
                    The first paper machine was patented by Louis Robert in France in 1798, followed by the Fourdrinier brothers, Henry and Sealy, working with Brian Donkin in
                    Message 9 of 9 , Dec 2, 2002
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                      The first paper machine was patented by Louis Robert in France in 1798,
                      followed by the Fourdrinier brothers, Henry and Sealy, working with Brian
                      Donkin in England. Between 1803 and 1807 they developed the paper machine
                      design still used today called the "fourdrinier". So it wasn't an American
                      invention. Paper machines came to this country around mid 19th C. but by
                      1860, even though machines were being used for a lot of papermaking, the
                      content of most papers is still rags. So the paper is still similar to
                      handmade and would respond to dampening the same.

                      I'd guess that dampened paper would be slower to feed through the
                      increasingly faster presses of the late 19th C. and so dry paper would be
                      an advantage for speedier production. Those printing with hand presses
                      probably still dampened, whether using handmade or machine made.

                      Here in arid Arizona, I find dampened paper just too difficult to print on
                      reliably. Maintaining a consistent moisture content through repeated
                      printings and maintaining registration is impossible. Dry printing works
                      for me just fine.

                      John Risseeuw

                      >Do you think this is the reason for the switch? or was it the result
                      >of the American invention of the Fourdriner(sp? my reference books are
                      >in storage) paper machine, which eliminated the need for handmade
                      >paper? and served as the impetus for the success of the machine-driven
                      >cylinder presses. Or do I have my dates wrong?

                      John L. Risseeuw, Professor
                      Director, Pyracantha Press
                      School of Art
                      Box 871505
                      Arizona State University
                      Tempe, Arizona 85287-1505
                      480-965-3713 office; 480-965-8338 fax
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