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Setting Stick - Typesetting, Late 19th Century Object Reg. No: HT 14595

This stick is used for setting up lines of type before placing the line into the forme.

A compositor selected type from a type case one letter at a time. The letters were placed in a composing or setting stick. Ther stick was held in one hand, while the type was set left to right upside-down. Type moulds are in reverse; reading backwards is an essential printer's skill. When the setting stick is full of type, the stick is taken to the galley tray, where the type is arranged in columns. The type is then locked into a form, which is placed on a stone. The stone provides a secure flat surface that ensures that the type remains in place.

This item was donated by the Dimboola & District Historical Society to enable Museum Victoria to set up type for the Fawkner Press display in the Melbourne exhibition, which opened in March 2008.

The type has been set up to reproduce the first page and other sections of the first printed edition of the Melbourne Advertiser. The first page is as the original but the second page is not complete. The compositor has included his own acknowledgment in the second page so that there can be no mistake as to its provenance.

Fawkner used foundry type; monotype was not available until the 1840s. Foundry type is cast differently from monotype. Only the newspaper title of the 'replica' is in foundry type.

The item was originally used in the printing of the Dimboola Banner newspaper. The contents of the newspaper office were donated in situ to the Dimboola Historical Society in 2004 and became part of the collection of the Dimboola Banner Printing Museum, which is owned by the Society (the building was purchased for the Society). The item was then donated to the Museum by the Dimboola & District Historical Society.

The newspaper office closed when the Dimboola Banner was sold and production shifted to another town with more modern equipment. The paper ceased to be printed with letterpress in the mid 1980s.
It is not possible to date the item or to determine its provenance as equipment came from various sources, for example from other local newspapers that closed down. The 'material' could be dated anywhere from 1879, which is when the first issue of the newspaper came out. It can be described as an example of 19th century technology.
A setting stick consists of a right-angled piece of metal with a graduation along which to set the type. This particular stick is rusty
Acquisition Information:
Donation from Mr Dale Conway - Dimboola Historical Society, 2007
Discipline: Technology
Dimensions: 1.70 cm (Height), 6.90 cm (Width), 30.00 cm (Length)

More information

Tagged with: printing, printing equipment, typesetting accessories
Themes this item is part of: How the Fawkner Press Worked, John Pascoe Fawkner, Businessman & Melbourne Pioneer (1792-1869), Letterpress Printing, Information & Communication Collection
On Display at: Melbourne Museum
Primary Classification: COMMUNICATIONS
Secondary Classification: Printing
Tertiary Classification: typesetting
Assembler: Mr Peter Marsh, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 2007
References: http://sharlot.org/events/livinghistory/printing.html
accessed 9 October 2008

Melbourne Advertiser first printed edition (#10)


Chris Birchall Posted on 10 Mar 2013 11:13 PM
Compositors - a magnificent group of educated men who,especially on newspapers, carried and corrected many a new boy. They could truncate stories to fit space alloted while waitng for the dithering sub-editor to make-up his mind. All while reading backward and up-side down. Deadline was deadline.

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