Press here

I was one of those kids who sends off for free stuff from companies. You know – samples, information packs, promotional material, posters for my bedroom wall.

One such firm was Adana (Printing Machines) Ltd in Twickenham, England. I could not resist the coupon for a free sample of printer’s type. They sent me nine characters which spelled the words ADANA TYPE wrapped in a plain piece of paper, together with brochures for their printing presses and accessories.

I took these curious shiny rods of lead (exactly 0.918 inches or 23.3172 mm high) with the mirror-writing letters on top to primary school with me, where I would carefully unwrap them and show to friends and teachers.

At first that was the extent of my interest in printing, but I read and re-read the brochures which had enticing pictures of their ‘Five Three’ and ‘Eight Five’ presses, accompanied by impressive lists of items the hobby printer could produce on them. Everything from business stationery to dance tickets, small posters and leaflets.

The machines’ names denoted the size in inches of the ‘chase’ or frame in which the type is firmly clamped for printing. I cannot remember the price of the Five Three, but eventually when I was a few years older my parents decided to buy me the more expensive Eight Five, which I know cost £27.10.6d. This pre-decimal sum equates to £320 today. In my parents’ eyes this was no doubt a worthwhile investment if it led to me pursuing an absorbing hobby. We also ordered a ‘printer’s office’ comprising a selection of essential tools and accessories, various tubes of ink and several founts (or fonts as they are universally called now) of type.

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