Monday, July 13, 2009

Printing Press

I am staying home today from work because I am still somewhat sick. What does that mean? BLOGGING SHALL ENSUE!

As some of you know, and some of you are about to learn, I work in a office supplies and legal bookstore store. It is a family owned company that has been pretty much in the same family for over a century! The building where I work has also been around for over a century, and the company also owns a printing press that has been around for about the same amount of time.

The printing press is now moving to a smaller, and cheaper place, because nowadays most of the printing is done digitally, and the older (and bigger) machines had become obsolete and useless. I was lucky enough to visit the printing press on the last day of the move. My verdict? The place is indeed old. I took some pictures that I wanted to show, make sure to click on them if you want the full view.

Here's an outside shot of the printing press from the building right in front of it. I am not very knowledgeable about architecture, so I don't know what particular name those structures on top of the building have, but it does look a lot like something you would see in a medieval castle.

Here's another photo, but this time from higher up, where you can see those structures a bit better, and the size of the building in of itself. Again, this was taken from the building across from the printing press. How did I gain access to it? We'll get to that in a second.

Here's an photo of the inside of the printing press. The bottom floor is now almost empty, but that's where all the machinery used to be. The second floor hadn't been used for some time, but in yesteryear, it was used to store the paper that was already printed, as well as covers, paper blocks, and all other kinds of material.

And here's another angle of that same floor. This part is almost completely empty, with only trash left there. In the back, you can see some of the offices that the place had. You can infer the size of the whole place by comparing it to the man (Jose/Pepe, a coworker) who looks tiny in this photo.

Here's a close-up of those huge pieces of furniture that were in earlier photos. These were used to store the metal letters that were used for the printing press. Each drawer would have different sizes and different fonts of letters, numbers, and symbols.

The workers would sit in front of these tables and compose a page, and you can see an assembled on there on the left of the photo. On the right, there's lots of tiny little blocks of metal. Do you know what those are? They are the spaces that they would have to leave between words and to indent paragraphs. Because of the way that the printing press works, you needed to assemble a complete line, even if there was only a single word in it.

Here's some more of the typographic letters that they would use to assemble a page. We are actually selling most of the by bigger fonts at the store where I work, as a memento. People can assemble their own names, company names, or numbers. They can also work as rudimentary stamps (although regular ink won't stick to it as much as it would do to rubber)

Here's something else that's very interesting. Our company works a lot with city halls and other government institutions. These are the logos and symbols that you would see on their official paper and envelopes, that the workers at the printing press had to hand craft in order to be able to print. I have no idea how long it would take to make one of these, as they have an intricate amount of detail carved on to them, and they are made out of metal.

I don't remember exactly what all these machines did, but I know for certain that the one on the left was used to melt metal. I think the other one was to make them into metal bricks, but I am not sure. Basically, when the metal typographic letters got old or damaged, they would melt them and make new ones. This is also the place where they would craft the custom symbols as seen in the previous picture.

Most of the usable machinery was either sold or moved to the new place by the time I visited, but this antique still remained. I wish I had taken a better photo of it though, but basically the paper would be fed manually on one side to be printed and it would come out from the other one. My guide (the aforementioned Jose/Pepe) told me that he once saw a coworker get his hand stuck there. Yes, I shivered.

This is another relic that was used to cut the paper in different formats. Most paper is delivered in huge sheets that must be later be trimmed down to the common sizes. This machine still works, but they use more modern machinery now. There seemed to be no grisly stories about this one, thankfully.

Now, remember earlier I said that I was able to get into the building directly in front of the printing press? Well this is the building. It is also owned by the same people. You see, back when this place was built, people didn't really travel to work, they lived and worked in the same place. So directly in front of the warehouse that houses the printing press, there are a group of houses where the workers used to live. I was able to explore parts of that building too, although not all of it, because there's still sections which are still being used. I took photos in the abandoned sections of the building. Oh yeah, and it has an honest-to-god clock tower. That's pretty damn cool.

This room is the stable. That should give you another notion of how old this building is, as houses back then were built with stables for the livestock they had. They kept a couple of horses in here, that they used to pull the cart that they would use to deliver the material from the printing press.

This is a close-up of the the clock tower, taken from the roof of the building. It would be pretty cool to go in there, right? Well, guess who has two thumbs and went in there? THIS GUY.

Ever wonder what the behind of a huge clock looks like? Well, here's your answer. The surface of the clock is made up of marble, so it must weight a lot, but the machinery doesn't work anymore.

And here's me at the top of the clock tower. You can see the roof of the printing press in the back. There was a really nice view from up there.

So that is it for today! Hopefully you guys enjoyed this educative ride. One of these days I will take my camera to work and I will take pictures of the place where I work day-to-day.