This video shows Farnsworth Printing Co, of Camden, NY printing envelopes for church donations in the 1950s. Camden is across Oneida Lake from Syracuse.

So much use of the mails and the telephone: things you’d almost not see in a printing plant today.

The video takes you step by step through all departments. At one point you see them making a rubber plate for their small rotary letterpress, including the interim step of what they refer to as a “matrix” made here of fibererboard. This is the same function as described in my recent post on Flong. Note how the envelopes were customized by printing a variable number and date on them, so that parishioners would have an envelope they were expected to fill for each week in the year. We tend to think that such customization is a recent development made possible by digital printing. It’s not; it’s just easier now.

One striking feature is the number of employees who are women, even the typesetter and the platemaker. The pressman, who seems to be hanging around waiting for this tiny plate is however male.

This video comes via The American Printing History Association’s site. The person who put up the video says that the company started out printing milk tickets a century ago. Can this mean prepaid tickets entitling children to milk at school? Was that really going on a hundred years ago? Or was there something called a milk ticket which you’d leave out for the milkman telling how much milk you wanted that day? Was that going on before WWI too? I expect they actually printed more sorts of ticket than just milk tickets. Cloakroom tickets, raffle tickets and so on all shared the need for that mechanical number sequencing function which makes up part of the Farnsworth company’s press.

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