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Beside the big press in the little cellar of “The Hatbox” at Watertown, Mass.

Report to the Fossils

Last October when Theron Batchelder and Ed Cole offered the press and printing outfit of the late Frank Roe Batchelder to any interested Fossils member, few details were available. On the assumption that some other printers and Fossils will be interested in an itemizing, this issue of Weaker Moments is devoted to a general description of the gift.

Frank Batchelder had located his printshop above his two-car garage in what was probably designed for a maid’s room. His study and a lavatory were in adjoining rooms; across the hall a door shut off this section from the second floor of the house; stairs descended, next to the kitchen, to the back door. These narrow stairs, flanked by railing, and complicated by a turn at the top, prevented movement of the press as a unit or even partially dismantled. An 8×12 C&P press weighs half a ton ready for action and requires plenty of grunting and heaving to unbolt and carry down stairs even in component castings. Believe me!

On the basis of experience in maintenance and moving my old 8×12 at Great Neck, and inspired by Meyer Perlgut’s feat of buying a similar press in New York City and carting it home in a station wagon, I decided to move the press, etc., myself using Ruth’s mother’s Buick for the Stamford to Boston haul.

Cases of type are just about the messiest things to pack there are – china not excepted. So these and other miscellany were tossed in the back seat and trunk of the car during three trips down to Riverside in early December. Then that unforgettable series of 1947 snowstorms dictated postponement of all unessential cross-country jaunting. Early in April I made one last futile stab at removing gears and flywheel (which were firmly jammed together with headless keys) – all that prevented final disassembly. A mechanic finally finished the job and crated the remainder.

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Tuesday afternoon, April 27th, a truck suddenly appeared at 61 Rutland. Payday afternoon, RWB at work, 750# of press parts outside freight collect, and not one red cent in the house! Ruth dashed next door to borrow cash to ransom it. Then the only way the driver could get the heavy crate off his truck alone was by opening and unpacking it part by part.

With assistance from testing engineer Bob Smith next night and again on May 7 the jig-saw puzzle of parts was solved and the motor hitched up. By heck, the thing worked, too!

But enough of that blood, sweat, and frustration. Here’s what was in the grand prize surprise package:

First, of course, the press – an 8×12 Chandler & Price, powered (direct-to-flywheel – no belt) by a big old ¼HP Kimble motor with variable speed control, all mounted on a 4-foot square base of ¾” plywood. With this were two sets of rollers, two chases, roller bearers, and a set of Morgan expansion roller trucks.

A complete outfit of necessary accessories: oil can, safety cleaning fluid can, tweezers, brayer, two planers (one for proofs), mallet, a Rouse screw composing stick, one brass galley, a varied selection of five sets of gauge pins – all different, and a dozen tubes of Sullmanco ink.

Among the heart-warming treasures: four new Challenge Hi-Speed quoins, an American lead-and-rule cutter graduated in picas, copper and brass space cases – full, a 10 to 60 pica font of wood furniture, ten pounds of metal quotation furniture, generous supplies of spaces and quads, two flat-top case racks containing 24 full-size cases of varied age and style, and a pair of iron brackets for holding cases on top in convenient type-setting position.

Of leads and slugs there were probably over sixty pounds as well as ten pounds each of 1 pt. and 6 pt. in long uncut lengths. All that in addition to the fifty pounds of 12 pt. Deepdene used here, and the job fonts displayed on the inside pages.

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Weaker Moments
a spasmodical printed by Ralph Babcock (when time permits)
At the sign of The Scarlet Cockerel and leaden slivers
Watertown, Mass.

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