The Albion Press was invented by Richard Cope in England in the early 1820's. The press was noted for its lighter weight, ease of use, and quicker, shorter pull than the other presses of the time. When Cope died in 1828, the executors of his estate (J&J Bartlett) continued his press manufacturing company by having John Hopkinson (Cope's foreman) run the business. For a while all three names were on the press. However, from 1840 onward, the company was known as "Hopkinson & Cope." The word "Albion," another name for England, was probably choosen to distinguish it from its chief rival from United States, the " Columbian." The Albion was in production until the 1940's.
The Albion Press in the McCune Collection was manufactured of iron and steel at London in 1852 by Hopkinson & Cope. It received the number #3294. It is a demy sixe, 24 x 18 inches at the platen, stands 6 foot six inches and weighs just under 2000 pounds.
The press was bought by Dr. McCune, upon the advice of Roger Levenson of the Tamalpais Press at Berkeley. It was purchased from Hewitt Bros. of Field St, London. Dr. McCune secured the press in a close race with the University of Texas. Luckily, his serendipitous cablegram arrived in time for him to obtain the press. The Albion Press, a Brayer ink-table, and an unclothed 18 inch roller cost Dr. McCune $1040 F.O.B. San Francisco; freight and erection added $300. He received the press in July 1968.
During the next few years, Dr. McCune hand-printed many broadsides and booklets on this press, and this continued until his stroke in 1971. He donated the press to the Vallejo Public Library along with his book collection. All these items were placed in the special collections room of John F. Kennedy Library and are an integral part of the McCune Collection. The Albion Press has been reconditioned and the McCune Press Society has been formed as a sub-group to the McCune Committee to encourage use of this fine press.
The Linotype was invented by Ottmar Mergenthaler (1854-1899) in 1884. Although born in Germany, Mergenthaler became a naturalized American citizen in 1878. The Linotype was a revolution in the printing world. No longer would a man have to manually place the type to print a book or newspaper.
The Linotype machine [Photo 1] in the McCune Room is an immediate center of attention for the visitor. Its nameplate lists it as Linotype Model 8, Serial Number 33931 [Photo 2]. Based on the serial number, this actually is a Model 8A, which began being shipped from the Mergenthaler Company in April 1922.
The Linotype was setup with a keyboard of 90 keys [Photo 3]. The white section (on the right) contained the upper case letters; the black section (on the left) contained the lower case letters; and the blue section (in the middle) contained small capitals, numbers, punctuations and fixed width spaces. By the use of the keyboard, the operator could type out the text. This would then be assembled from the magazines [Photo 4] which contained different size fonts. The type matrix [Photo 5] and the spacebands [Photo 6] were used to establish the text that would be made into a line of type (known as a slug) [Photo 7].
The slug is made when the pig ingot [Photo 8], which is made of lead, is melted and mixed with tin and antimony. The linotype metal is composed of 4% tin, 12% antimony, and 84% lead. This is melted at a temperature of up to 550 degrees and placed in the mold disk [Photo 9]. The type matrix [Photo 5] is made of brass and the spaceband [Photo 6] is a steel band which separates the words from each other. The molted metal is then cast using these matrixes and spacebands which results in the line of type [Photo 7].
The Challenge Advance Guillotine Paper Cutter has a clamp handwheel at the top, a lever to put pressure on the blade and a counterweight to help bring the lever to its start position. There is also a back gauge handwheel to move the bed of the paper cutter so that the proper size paper can be cut.
The clamp wheel is used to clamp the paper stock into place. Usually a piece of cardboard is used to protect the paper from any clamp marks. The paper is cut by the pressure of the lever.
The McCune Collection has a major collection of bookbinding equipment. It may be the largest collection of finishing tools west of Chicago. There are approximately four hundred finishing tools, including decorative rolls and wheels, pallets, gouges, fillets, decorative hand stamps, polisher, burnishers and others. There are also a number of handle letters for decorating books.
Some of the tools makers represented are: G. A. Hoffmann of New York (in business from 1896 to the 1930); Relton (in business 1816-1832) and Joseph Morris & Co. (in business 1823-1868), both from London; and John R. Hoole of New York (in business 1842-1868).