Note for non-NAPA Readers: This is a shop-talk issue, the only one during 1976. Please come back next month.
There’s something fascinating about the picture “NAPA” conjures up for the uninitiated. A misty cut-away landscape with little tunnels leading to individual hidey-holes, each occupied by a happy solitary busily working up his next communication to all the other hidey-holes.
Don’t disenchant me by telling me that all you printers are really hearty, back-slapping extroverts!
– Meri Christian
Our Centennial Convention
IN mid-June while pawing through the impenetrable jumble on my desk, I came across a slip of paper on which was scribbled the following:
I don’t remember writing this memo to myself, but there is no doubt about what it was for. Where would one go that required a constitution, a Robert’s Rules of Order, and a bottle of gin? I would hesitate to put these items in order of importance, but it is quite certain that all are necessary for only one occasion – a NAPA convention.
After all these years there are no surprises (or at least, I hope) left for me in the gin bottle, but I feel sure that every convention will teach me something new about our constitution and about Robert’s Rules of Order. Either I keep forgetting what I have previously learned about these or subtle changes creep into them from one year to the next. I am positive (I may be wrong, but I’m positive.) that Bill Boys has in separate years swayed the assembly to opposite interpretations of the meaning of accepting a committee report. At worst I suppose this means that Bill was right half the time, which is more than some of us can claim.
This year Bill, abetted by Vic Moitoret, mistakenly (I’m sure) persuaded the convention that acceptance and adoption or approval was a different action; so the convention first accepted the amendment committee’s report and then acted on the proposed amendments. Fortunately the action on the amendments was that recommended by the committee. Had it been otherwise, I think we would have been in the curious position of voting both ways on the same question. Who then would have determined what the assembly meant? Some hapless executive judges, I guess.
As long as I can get there, I don’t much care where a convention is being held, but this time it was certainly pleasant to be in Philadelphia at the nation’s birthday party. The mammoth parade, as my wife said, was really little more than a huge series of high school bands, but she said she was caught up in the excitement of it though she did not expect to be. And so was I. And so was almost everyone in the city.
After all the dolorous predictions, it was a happy time and everyone seemed joyful. The police were pleasant and courteous in their crowd control and good humor seemed to be the mood of the day. The showers soaked the uniforms of the marchers but had little effect on their spirit. I felt as if I was present at the birth of a legend and could imagine these high schoolers boring their grandchildren in 2026 with long, unbelievable stories about marching in “the big one.”
Fireworks of all kinds were launched that evening from the tops of several of the tallest buildings in the city. This gave a height and perspective to the display that I’d never seen before. The crowds on the streets applauded the bursts and again the mood was one of celebration.
Had it not been for the convention, I would never have considered being in Philadelphia for the Fourth of July, but I’m glad (apart from the convention) that I was there to participate in the birthday party. Now and then the layers of encrusted cynicism are peeled back, and simple childish pleasures come unexpectedly pouring in to delight the senses and leave one refreshed by the experience. The nation’s birthday celebration was, for me, just such an event.
I have come to expect each convention to be better, but this year the centennial party features of the convention caused a greater than normal improvement. The birthday party for NAPA, on the evening of the Fourth, with the huge cake and magnums of champagne was a big success.
The biggest surprise to me of the whole convention was that the constitutional amendment passed so easily. From experience I had grown to believe that any amendment opposed by anyone would fail unless a campaign was mounted to secure votes for it. On this amendment, no one worked to secure its passage and I know several people who were opposed to it and several, including myself, who were uncertain how they should vote. But the absentee vote was, I think, 18 – 8 in favor, and the convention voted an even more favorable 26 – 0. The notion that it is very difficult to amend our constitution lives on, but actually, in the last several years almost all amendments have passed handily.
Everything in the laureate amendment seemed clear enough to me until it actually passed, but then I immediately began to have some doubts. What, for instance, is Editorial Comment? How does it differ from Miscellaneous Prose? Could one submit the same piece for both the Editorial Comment and the Miscellaneous Prose contests? Would it be ethical to do so?
Must Editorial Comment be a comment by the editor of the journal? Or a comment by a guest editor? Is, in fact, any essay by the editor of a journal an Editorial Comment? Or an essay with which the editor agrees? Perhaps this is all crystal clear to you, but the more I think about it the more confusing it gets.
In a newspaper, the distinguishing feature of an editorial, aside from its location in the paper, is that it represents the view, opinion, or standpoint of the newspaper. It is the voice of the newspaper.
It may be that our Miscellaneous Prose category is the confusion generator since that category could logically embrace everything not claimed to be poetry.
I’m also a bit concerned about splitting the editing contest into two entries because of the low number of entries in this category before the split. Perhaps our new procedures will produce many more entries in all categories than we have been having. I surely hope this is the result of it all.
The amendment proposed for next year to require a quarterly report from the executive judges to be published in the NA seems to be a very reasonable way to bring more public attention to the executive judges’ actions, Clearly it is disconcerting for affected members to hear of an action for the first time when the judges’ report is presented at the convention. Further, the assembly in deciding whether to accept the report has little time to ponder or discuss decisions that could be important. By the way, this year, for the first time in five years, the judges’ report was adopted in toto and in the right year, too.
Bill Boys, as a matter of principle, refused before his re-election as official editor to bind himself not to use again the dreadful [Editorial Comment?] Avant Garde type face, but mercifully did so after his election. His bravery would have been more edifying if he had not been the only candidate, but he could have become the first unopposed candidate to lose an election. Such is the power of Avant Garde.
The banquet turned out to be a love feast for Harold Segal as speaker after speaker eulogized him. Clearly, he was most moved by the comments of his daughter Nancy. Any parent knows this is the rarest form of flattery. To use an old cliche, but straight for once, it couldn’t have happened to a better man. And fortunately while he was around to hear it.
Norman Quillman was recognized at the banquet as the person present with the longest membership: sixty years. Unless you were lucky enough to join NAPA in youth, you will always be a Johnnie-come-lately. Forty years of membership seems to be the minimum that’s at all uncommon.
I’ve heard lots of people pass judgments on matters they knew nothing about, but I was more than a little surprised to hear Sheldon Wesson, in his banquet speech, blatantly calling people criminals and simultaneously proclaiming his ignorance, and his desire to remain ignorant, of the event he was calling a crime. Seems to be poor journalism, even on the amateur level. Maybe he meant to say it was “a shame” or “a pity.” With that I could agree.
Among those we met for the first time were the Davids, Stan Oliner, and George Trainer. I’m still trying to decide if George was pulling my leg when he said he never does any make ready and never heard of anyone doing it simply to print two pages the size of these. Is make ready one of those things like gas mileage where absolutely everyone does better than I do? I don’t say I didn’t believe George, but I’d sure like to question him when he was strapped into a polygraph.
Sheldon Wesson, Vic Moitoret, and Tom Whitbread on the same assembly floor are far, far too much of a good thing. It is fortunate that they are never on the same side of any question. (No question on the floor at a NAPA convention is simple enough to have only two sides – three is the minimum and 26 is not uncommon.) On top of these fireworks, Roy Lindberg proposed that all NAPA discussions and decisions should meet the Florida “sunshine” law of open government. NAPA officers are however still permitted to have private thoughts, and any executive judge you hear talking to himself is doing so for other reasons. (Somehow in spite of “sunshine” laws, I cannot but believe that NAPA is governed more honestly, more fairly, and more competently than Florida is.)
We were pleased with book, The First Hundred Years, edited and printed by Harold Segal and bound by Don Brady. The mere thought of binding 150 copies of a book by hand staggers me. The National Amateur Presses Assembled, a book consisting of pages printed by a number of printing members discussing their shops, had a sufficient number of entries to be of interest to all of us who print. I think we are all curious about each other’s shops. The book was nicely bound by Bill Haywood in his It’s a Small World manner.
Both books are interesting in content as well as being fine keepsakes of our centennial convention.
The centennial shirts silk screened by Bob Williams were much in evidence. Leah washed ours every evening and ironed them before breakfast so we could wear them every day. We also wore them when we went to Independence Square to see the Liberty Bell. When I saw anyone trying to read my shirt, I would turn my back and let him read the whole shirt. I was a bit abashed when one person said, “Give me your card,” and when I hesitated, added, “a printer and you don’t have a card.” Oh well.
We plan to wear our shirts to every convention and we hope that the number we attend will be so large that our shirts will finally be worn threadbare.
NAPA owes Jack Hageman a vote of thanks for his invitations to Kennewick. If he persists he will certainly eventually get the convention. It is an unaccustomed luxury for the organization to have more than one invitation. I’m sure only the relative remoteness of Kennewick has so far kept it from being elected. I hope Jack does keep his invitation open. It would have been something to attend a convention where the reception chairman was the mayor of the host city. For that matter it would be something to meet Jack Hageman whether he was mayor of Kennewick or a common laborer in one of the towns in the Tonto Basin.
But next year, threadbare or not, we hope we will see you in Kansas City.
NAPA By The Case
Type Setting Speeds; Professional and Amateur
MILTON GRADY is quoted in Campane 72 as having said in his Spring, 1960, Spectator, the following:
Few amateur printers ever boast or make mention of their speed in setting type. Why should they? Speed is not in contention. The enjoyment of creating is rampant. You would never hear a gourmet brag, “I once ate a creme brulee in 46 seconds.”
There is more to that question than strikes one at first glance. Once you begin unfolding the ramifications of the question, you quickly find yourself in the unenviable position of trying to define, describe, and delimit a hobby.
Obviously Grady was not entirely right. It is printing, or aj, that is the hobby, not type setting. Type setting is but one of many components. Yet, in another way, he was right. Someday I may go into this at length.
For the present purpose we can agree that we have some curiosity about our speed without being overly concerned about why we are curious. How do we compare with the champions, with skilled journeymen, and with one another?
The request that I made for speeds specified the following conditions: Your normal rate with straight copy, justified lines, preferably at your own case, and determined by at least one hour of setting time.
The speeds below are given in ems per hour. I can hardly believe that any non-printer will read this, but if one does, let him be advised that an em is a square in any type size. The em was probably so named because in many types the M is a square. In Deepdene, it is not, but the W is an em, if that’s not too confusing. Each paragraph in this journal is indented one em. This  is the 12-point em. Each of these lines contains 22 ems; a line of 10-point type the same 22-pica length would contain 26.4 ems, etc. Ems per hour is a good measure of speed in that regardless of the size of the type, it relates to the number of pieces of type handled rather than the length of the set piece.
One of the tabulated results, Ron Ruble’s, is not quite for the situation requested and is not included in the averages.
Remember this was not a race or a contest, and much of the variation in speed may be due to the care the setter takes in justifying. Or maybe he simply agrees with Grady and is not concerned about his speed.
Setting Speeds (ems/hr)
Alexander Duguid 2211, Champion type setter of 1886.
Professional Compositor 500, About 1900. Supplied by Victor Downs
William Danner 474
Alf Babcock 420
Fred Liddle 389
Jake Warner 352
Matt Kelsey 335
Vic Moitoret 324
Keith Gray 320
Adelbert Jakeman, Jr. 312
Gale Sheldon 295
Lauren Geringer 262 (very short lines)
John Gillick 240
Edwin Harler, Jr. 151
Philip Cade 150
Ron Ruble 320 (ragged right)
For what it is worth, the mean setting speed is 310 and the median is 3200 Some people set type three times as fast as some of the others. And not one of us would qualify as a good 19th century compositor. (July 1976)
Hand set in Deepdene with a trial use of 4-em for standard word space instead of the usual 3-em. If adopted, as now seems certain, the new method, because of technical reasons, will not be used again until the February 1977 issue. Display type is Airport Semi-Bold and 10-point Spartan Medium. Cover is index stock in green, pink, blue, and yellow depending on the luck of the draw. Edited and published by Jake Warner and 470 copies printed by him on a 10×15 C&P at the Boxwood Press, Greenbelt, Maryland 20770.