A consignment of Literature goes forth to all parts of the World.
October 29, 2013 9:45 AM   Subscribe

In 1925, the Federation of British Industry created a series of silent films meant to document various aspects of British industrial work being done at the time. Included in that series was a film on the work of Oxford University Press. Oxford University Press and the Making of a Book. (SilentLinkYouTube)
posted by Toekneesan (8 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Final step: The haberdasher puts out scathing criticisms over the wires in retaliation for a bad review on Ye Olde Yelp.
posted by dr_dank at 10:04 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Wow, it took many man-hours to print a book back then. Fascinating video. I also wonder about the health effects of handling all that molten lead, both accidental burns and lead poisoning.
posted by Triplanetary at 10:44 AM on October 29, 2013

You set it to that awesome music and I'm basically going to watch anything you put in front of me. Fortunately, the book making stuff was interesting too, although it's just going to be filed away in my head under "jesus christ everything used to be a royal pain in the ass back in the day.... something something Dowager Countess something Chalky White..."
posted by Rhomboid at 11:33 AM on October 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

jesus christ everything used to be a royal pain in the ass back in the day.

There's actually a kind of zen involved with this kind of labor, or at least, there can be. Back in my youth we learned typesetting in school. Exactly to what end, I'm kind of at a loss, really. I don't imagine any of us went on to set type. But it was entertaining. Perhaps I'll take it up again in my old age, create modest limited editions on short subjects and sell them at astonishing mark-ups.

(No typesetting in my daughter's school, nor cook-stoves either - they took out the last kitchen the year she entered middle school in favor of yet more computers. Given how hot the cooking trade has become in recent years and how hard that job is to off-shore, this seems a little untimely.)
posted by BWA at 11:54 AM on October 29, 2013

This is a terrific film, but many of the music edits made me yell at the computer screen.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 12:12 PM on October 29, 2013

Bookbinding is a very involved process, and pretty much always has been. Very few innovations since the 16th-c or so, in fact. Some better glues...

And then, WHAM!, mass-manufactured paperbound books hit the market. Shitty construction, but they'll last much longer than one reading, which is all the very book-hungry and literate 20th-c masses need.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:12 PM on October 29, 2013

That's pretty neat. Just Friday I toured Arion Press who use some of the same techniques (and equipment) to make "fine press" books which are hugely expensive. A copy of Trout Fishing in America will set you back a mere $475 if you don't get a version with a Wayne Thiebaud print bound inside. That's about the cheapest (one is $25 less, I think).

Its neat to see those old machines chug. They had Monotype machines probably as old as the ones in the film, brought over for the Pan Pacific Exhibition in 1915. There at least they've got an industrial hood (sorry, preschool neighbors) for the lead casting. The place smells quite wonderfully of ink and lubricant. I half expected the operators to have previous experience on steam trains.

So many interesting shots. Why the loving look at the front of the building, nearly as long as anything else? How much RSI was experienced back then? That guy rubbing gold leaf in his hair; they didn't have rabbit fur? The guy rubbing leaf off, they didn't collect it? So many of those jobs seemed stopgap until they could figure out how to make machines do the repetitive motions accurately enough...
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:50 PM on October 29, 2013

A reminder of how much we have gained and lost.
posted by stbalbach at 7:49 PM on October 29, 2013

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