PIM Member Profile: Walsworth Publishing Company

PIM Member Profile: Walsworth Publishing Company

Presence. Performance. Personalization.

By John Gumina


These three words probably best describe Walsworth Publishing Company, this issue’s Printing Industry of Michigan “Member Profile.”

Along with its facility in St. Joseph, Michigan—acquired just five years ago—the Missouri-based Walsworth has continued to expand its operational presence throughout the U.S., and maintains an international reach as well.

Founded in Missouri in 1937 by Don Walsworth, the company is still family owned and specializes in printing yearbooks, catalogs, periodicals and books. It performs among the 30 largest printing companies in the U.S. overall, and is among the top 10 publications printers and top five book printers. Today, it employs some 1,250 people worldwide.

Walsworth is further distinguished by the fact it is the last privately-held printer of yearbooks among the Big Five, and it has more than 675 employees who have attained “Master Printer of America” status!

According to Tom Ashton, Sales Director, Eastern Region at Walsworth Print Group, at its core the company has a philosophy of placing the client first, and maintains a “big enough to help but small enough to care” approach.
It is this personalization, so to speak, which has kept the majority of clients working with Walsworth for fully 10 years or more.

The St. Joseph, Michigan facility offers a full-service print operation, from receipt of files to shipping out the door. “We have heatset web presses as well as sheetfed presses,” Ashton states. “We can stitch or perfect bind projects across the entire platform, or if sewing and case-binding are needed, rely on our Missouri plant. Following completion, we can ship to a destination, mail through our onsite U.S. Postal verification, co-mail, or hold in our warehouses for ongoing fulfillment and distribution.”The manufacturing operation at St. Joseph occupies 150,000 square feet in its own building. Administrative offices are located across the street in 9,000 square feet, and the Fulfillment Operation occupies 50,000 square feet of warehouse and office space in a 500,000 square foot building nearby.

Walsworth acquired IPC of St. Joseph five years ago from Journal Communications, Ashton points out. This was part of a strategic expansion of Walsworth’s platform, its scope of offerings, the markets it served and its product diversification. (IPC had operated in the St. Joseph region for decades prior to the acquisition, occupying a number of facilities.)

About 195 individuals work at the St. Joseph Walsworth facility today which most recently began implementing a new enterprise wide production system to streamline operations and improve efficiency and tracking.

Ashton states, “We have added several new presses and supporting operations, including platesetters and paper handling equipment. We continue to invest significantly in both our local Michigan operation and across our entire platform. Our annual investment easily exceeds $5,000,000 across our platform, as we seek to improve operations and grow our services. In addition to the pressroom equipment, we have invested significantly in our Integrated Solutions suite of services.” Shortly after Walsworth acquired IPC, Ashton joined the company.

“I am responsible for leading our Eastern Region sales team, selling our entire platform. The team is selling solutions applicable to the catalog, periodical and book markets in addition to ongoing fulfillment services and integrated digital solutions.” Ashton emphasizes “the vast majority” of Walsworth clients have been with the company for 10 years or more.

“We count our clients both in numbers and in longevity,” he adds, noting Walsworth prints many hundreds of focused publications, niche and specialty catalogs, and books of all kinds. But services go beyond this.

Ashton states: “We’ve been working with one long-time client, for example, in revising their website and their marketing strategy to incorporate different conversation streams and methodologies, their approach to new subscriber acquisition, as well as, the layout and design of their magazine.”

This has already resulted in more than an 11% increase in new subscriptions and well over a 200% increase in web traffic, he adds.

In an economy that appears to be growing, but still remains challenging, Ashton states Walsworth: “Continues to identify where we can have the greatest impact on the success of our clients and prospects. We focus our efforts on those activities. By refining our approach we can make our marketing and selling more effective, and negate the need to trim or eliminate.”

What about future plans?

Ashton notes Walsworth is continually investing in both traditional brick-and-mortar operations along with the supporting and complimentary services, such as its “Apps” and “Integrated Solutions” programs.

Walsworth Apps helps its clients to develop and deliver compelling content to readers wherever they are and on whatever devices they use – computer, tablet or smartphone. Ashton adds Walsworth Apps offer a rich content-viewing experience, interactive advertising opportunities and real-time analytic insights along with a new component which reviews, recommends and defines new revenue opportunities for the client.

“Integrated Solutions typically begin with a Digital Presence Assessment, so we can help the client stack rank where to invest time and effort to get the best return. For some, it means revamping the website or tweaking SEO, while for others, it means developing apps with responsive design and frequently updated content. One size doesn’t fit all: we tailor our digital efforts to compliment the traditional printed vehicle so each leverages and enhances the other.”

As a member of its local communities, Walsworth is proud to participate in activities and efforts to support the residents, Ashton points out. “We have been a pacesetter company for the United Way campaign in the past and continue to run an employee campaign each year,” he states. Walsworth’s presence in Michigan also goes beyond the local. “We are proud to partner with Susan G. Komen of Michigan for whom we provide in-kind printing services.”

Walsworth also participates in “green” activities. For example, all of the overhead lighting at its St. Joseph manufacturing operation has been replaced with energy efficient fixtures. “We maintain Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) certifications for sustainable forest paper products,” Ashton says. “We also recycle 100% of our process waste paper. Additionally, our Sunday web press is a zero-emission press, meaning atmospheric exhaust from that press is water vapor only.”

An active Printing Industries of Michigan member, Walsworth views its membership as “an effective way for us to connect with our colleagues in the industry,” Ashton states. “It helps our organization locate potential production partners, both for specialty applications and overflow resources but also for presenting Walsworth capabilities to other members.”

PIM also serves Walsworth as a method of information consolidation and distribution, both internally and across its local industry, Ashton adds.

For more information about Walsworth, visit its website at walsworth.com, or call Tom Ashton at 269.428.1200. You can also email them either through the website, or through thomas. ashton@walsworth.com

On the Current State of Web-to-Print

On the Current State of Web-to-Print

Why It’s Important and Why Open Source

By Charles Groce, CEO of Pearl Street Consulting


A few years back I had the opportunity to evaluate various “web-to-print” solutions (or W2P) from several of the leading software vendors. Although all of the W2P systems evaluated technically did what they were supposed to do, there were some drawbacks which ultimately prevented our commercial printing company from moving forward on the decision to sell print (efficiently) online.

The largest of these, of course, was cost, including deployment, licensing, hosting, and support. The cost of these systems and the connection to a guaranteed benefit on the bottom line was simply not clear. It was a difficult decision: sink tens of thousands of dollars into licensing for an MIS-integrated web-to-print portal, with at least eventual “hands free” order placement to plate-making capabilities; or do it the old fashion way, and use our website as corporate “brochureware”, and have staff inserted at every touchpoint in the production process, from design through billing.

That was 2009 and a lot has happened in the industry since then. Today, in 2016, every printing company needs to be able to satisfy the needs of the “modern shopper”. Like it or not, Amazon and other eCommerce providers have changed the way people think about how they shop, and this applies to print buyers as well. Consumers want to be able to make their own (informed) decisions and have different expectations than they used to have. As web entrepreneurs, our job is to not only give them the tools to actually place their order but also give them the information needed to make an informed decision, albeit with information that provides a marketing influence that “leans” in our direction.

Think of your web-to-print portal as a salesperson not drawing a salary or commission. It’s not for every customer, but it will be appealing to some. Moreover, a web-to-print portal can be branded differently than your company. And if you base your web-to-print portal on open source software, you can avoid additional licensing costs to duplicate it under your corporate identity or under as many brands as you want. This allows you to sell print online not only to a general audience, i.e. everyone, with a general one-size-fits-all marketing message along the lines of “we’re your trusted partner”, but to tailor to specific markets: academic, religious, manufacturing, governmental, etc., without significant overhead since there aren’t additional licensing costs and the code can simply be copied to a new web portal.

Open Source and Web-to-Print

What is the current state of open source web-to-print? This is a very large topic. I’m not in a position to evaluate every solution that arises in this continuously evolving software landscape, but I thought it might be useful to summare a couple of the leading web-to-print products and website plugins that the major open source platforms. None of these are going to integrate with your print MIS system right out-of-the-box, although all of them will integrate with well-established accounting systems like Quickbooks. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t weigh the benefits of such systems.

Two popular open source eCommerce platforms I’m going to write about are WordPress (Woocommerce) and Magento, which is owned by a subsidiary of eBay (eBay bought the company behind Magento in 2010, seeing a rising competitive threat from open source eCommerce). So I’m going to restrict my list to these platforms, and I’ll write a little bit about the pros and cons of each over the other. Both platforms are, of course, open source and come with zero dollars in licensing fees. Each platform could be downloaded, installed, and customer-facing today for free.


Woocommerce is perfect if your shop doesn’t contain a large number of products, and requires a great presentation. I like to think of WordPress as the platform that’s perfect for web designers. It’s well suited to web designers because the platform is easy to update in terms of its theme and design.


Magento on the other hand is, in my opinion, the better platform for eCommerce shops with large numbers of products and product categories. Magento is written by using a more complicated web framework called MVC (Model-Viewer-Controller) and can be more difficult for non-technical personnel to get their head around. This is why it lags a bit in the design department, although the trade off over WordPress/Woocommerce are significant productivity enhancements (like automated emails, integrated newsletter management and a more flexible framework for extensibility).

Both platforms have multiple APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), and can be integrated with just about anything, including your MIS. In short, my recommendation is for Woocommerce if you don’t have a large number of products or product configurations (don’t confuse this with run quantity) and Magento if you have a large number of product or product configurations.

Examples of Open Source W2P

Now on to some examples of the leading web-to-print solutions available on each platform. Just to clarify, web-to- print solutions are a subset of digital storefront solutions (DSF). DSF is really just another name for eCommerce, something the open source community mastered long ago (with respect to the short history of the internet). “Web-to-print” differs from standard DSF in that it allows for real-time product previews and at least has the capability for some amount of automation through API access. I’m going to restrict my list to the ordering process, including real time previewing.

uDraw on WooCommerce

uDraw is a powerful, easy-to-use web-to-print plugin that runs under WordPress/Woocommerce using a modern HTML5 framework (no Java plugins or Flash to deal with). It supports a PDF workflow and allows for in-browser real time editing and uploading. Your users can create brochures (with folding), business cards, mousepads, personalized bags, and more right from within the web browser. It’s mobile friendly and allows for the building of custom products. The ordering processing products are a layered PDF file that can be tweaked by your prepress as needed. WordPress/Woocommerce are both, of course, free to use.

uDraw requires a $500 setup fee and costs around $99/month for a subscription to the service. There is a free version of the plugin available so you can test it out (even do a little market testing). Give it a try by visiting the URL http://bit.ly/1M21chu.

PrintScience on Magento

PrintScience is a fantastic plugin that integrates with the Magento platform. Templates are created using Adobe Acrobat Pro and the PDFLib plugin, allowing VDP fields to be inserted directly into your PDF. In additional to the standard features listed above with uDraw, PrintScience allows your customers to download realtime generated PDF previews of their templates (with watermarking).

PrintScience has no setup fee, and costs $9.99 a month to get started. Give PrintScience a try by visiting the URL http://bit.ly/24ZSlTZ

Open Source Offers Many Flavors

There are many other options for open source, including ZetaPrints which runs on Magento, but utilizes Corel Draw (you read that right) for templating which starts at $1.70 per order, and a nice solution called“DesignnBuy”which also runs on Magento that starts at around $7000, far less than the price tag on many of the “industry standard” solutions. That these solutions run on open source platforms means they have the added advantage of being highly flexible and integrable with other platforms, such as MIS platforms, prepress systems, and more.

Whichever platform you decide to go with, definitely start selling print online if you’re not already doing it. Appealing to modern shopping expectations is sure to increasingly become a market differentiator between the old schools and the new schools of print.

About the Author: Charles Groce is the CEO of Pearl Street Consulting, a Michigan-based IT, web, and software consultancy. Charles is also the owner/operator osforprint.com, an open source technology solutions provider for the printing industry.

Save Yourself!

Save Yourself!

5 Things Every Small Business Can Do

By Phyllis Borzi, U.S. Department of Labor Blog


John knows he has been able to attract and keep talented staff because his winery offers a retirement plan. Tim credits the 401(k) plan at the Dairy Queen he manages with motivating employees to stay with the company long-term – which translates into more savings for the owner. For John and Tim – and for small businesses across the country – retirement plans that help their employees prepare for the future are having real benefits for their businesses today.

Saving for retirement is easier than many small business owners think. There are a number of options available to help you and your employees save; and what’s more, they also provide tax advantages to both your business and your employees. As part of America Saves Week, we’re reaching out to make small businesses aware of these options and provide information to help in choosing, setting up and operating a retirement plan.

Here are five steps every small business can take toward a secure retirement:

1. Explore the Retirement Plan Options

There are many retirement plan options available, including Individual Retirement Arrangement -based plans such as Payroll Deduction IRAs, SEPs and SIMPLE IRAs, and defined contribution plans like the 401(k) plan. In addition, myRA is a simple, safe and affordable way to help your employees start saving. Learn more about each option and what is involved in operating the plan before choosing the option that’s best for your needs.

2. Determine What Features You Want for Your Plan

Consider your needs as a business owner. Review the features of each option to see which best meets your needs. For example, do you want flexibility in employee and employer contributions? What are the pros and cons? The department has publications and tools to help you compare the options.

3. Assess Your Retirement Needs

Retirement is expensive. Experts estimate that you will need 70 to 90 percent of your pre-retirement income to maintain your current standard of living after you stop working. How much will you need for a secure retirement? We’ve got tools to help you save.

4. Choose a Plan

Review and compare the options to find the one that best meets your needs. You may want assistance from a retirement plan professional or adviser who is legally required to act in your best interest. Or you can contact us if you have questions.

5. Get Started, Now!

The best time to start saving is right now. We have information to help you set up your plan. And once your plan is in operation, we have publications and tools to help.

You can view our video featuring small business owners and their employees and accountants discussing their consideration and selection of a retirement saving solution by visiting YouTube and searching for the video entitled “Choosing a Retirement Solution for Your Small Business.”

Choosing a retirement savings plan is the first important step towards saving for a secure future. America Saves Week is a great time to get started.

About the Author: Phyllis C. Borzi is the assistant secretary of labor for employee benefits security. Her blog was published on http://blog.dol.gov.

Print Books, E-Books and the E-Paper Chase

Print Books, E-Books and the E-Paper Chase

By Kevin R. Donley • kevin@multimediaman.org


Last November Amazon opened its first retail book store in Seattle near the campus of the University of Washington. More than two decades after it pioneered online book sales—and initiated the e-commerce disruption of the retail industry— the $550 billion company seemed to be taking a step backward with its “brick and mortar” Amazon Books.
However, Amazon launched its store concept with a nod to traditional consumer shopping habits, i.e. the ability to “kick the tires.” Amazon knows very well that many customers like to browse the shelves in bookstores and fiddle with electronic gadgets like the Kindle, Fire TV and Echo before they make buying decisions.

So far, the Seattle book store has been successful and Amazon has plans to open more locations. Some unique features of the Amazon.com buying experience have been extended to the book store. Customer star ratings and reviews are posted near book displays; shoppers are encouraged to use the Amazon app and scan bar codes to check prices.

Amazon’s book store initiative was also possibly motivated by the persistence and strength of the print book market. Despite the rapid rise of e-books, print books have shown a resurgence of late. Following a sales decline of 15 million print books in 2013 to just above 500 million units, the past two years have seen an increase to 560 million in 2014 and 570 million in 2015. Meanwhile, the American Booksellers Association reported a substantial increase in independent bookstores over the past five years (1,712 member stores in 2,227 locations in 2015, up from 1,410 in 1,660 locations in 2010).

Print Books and E-Books

The ratio of e-book to print book sales appears to have leveled off at around 1 to 3. This relationship supports recent public perception surveys and learning studies that show the reading experience and information retention properties of print books are superior to that of e-books.

The reasons for the recent uptick in print sales and the slowing of e-book expansion are complex. Changes in the overall economy, adjustments to bookstore inventory from digital print technologies and the acclimation of consumers to the differences between the two media platforms have created a dynamic and rapidly shifting landscape.

As many analysts have insisted, it is difficult to make any hard and fast predictions about future trends of either segment of the book market. However, two things are clear: (1) the printed book will undergo little further evolution and (2) the e-book is headed for rapid and dramatic innovation.

Amazon launched the e-book revolution in 2007 with the first Kindle device. Although digital books were previously available in various computer file formats and media types like CD-ROMs for decades, e-books connected with Amazon’s Kindle took off in popularity beginning in 2008. The most important technical innovation of the Kindle—and a major factor in its success— was the implementation of the e-paper display.

Distinct from backlit LCD displays on most mobile devices and personal computers, e-paper displays are designed to mimic the appearance of ink on paper. Another important difference is that the energy requirements of e-paper devices are significantly lower than LCD-based systems. Even in later models that offer automatic back lighting for low-light reading conditions, e-paper devices will run for weeks on a single charge while most LCD systems require a recharge in less than 24-hours.

Nick Sheridon and Gyricon

The theory behind the Kindle’s ink-on-paper emulation was originated in the 1970s at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center in California by Nick Sheridon. Sheridon developed his concepts while working to overcome limitations with the displays of the Xerox Alto, the first desktop computer. The early monitors could only be viewed in darkened office environments because of insufficient brightness and contrast.

Sheridon sought to develop a display that could match the contrast and readability of black ink on white paper. Along with his team of engineers at Xerox, Sheridon developed Gyricon, a substrate with thousands of microscopic plastic beads—each of which were half black and half white—suspended in a thin and transparent silicon sheet. Changes in voltage polarity caused either the white or black side of the beads to rotate up and display images and text without backlighting or special ambient light conditions.

After Xerox cancelled the Alto project in the early 1980s, Sheridon took his Gyricon technology in a new direction. By the late 1980s, he was working on methods to manufacture a new digital display system as part of the “paperless office.” As Sheridon explained later, “There was a need for a paper-like electronic display— e-paper! It needed to have as many paper properties as possible, because ink on paper is the ‘perfect display.’”

In 2000, Gyricon LLC was founded as a subsidiary of Xerox to develop commercially viable e-paper products. The startup opened manufacturing facilities in Ann Arbor, Michigan and developed several products including e-signage that utilized Wi-Fi networking to remotely update messaging. Unfortunately, Xerox shut down the entity in 2005 due to financial problems.

Among the challenges Gyricon faced were making a truly paper-like material that had sufficient contrast and resolution while keeping manufacturing costs low. Sheridan maintained that e-paper displays would only be viable economically if units were sold for less than $100 so that “nearly everyone could have one.”

As Sheridon explained in a 2009 interview:
“The holy grail of e-paper will be embodied as a cylindrical tube, about 1 centimeter in diameter and 15 to 20 centimeters long, that a person can comfortably carry in his or her pocket. The tube will contain a tightly rolled sheet of e-paper that can be spooled out of a slit in the tube as a flat sheet, for reading, and stored again at the touch of a button. Information will be downloaded—there will be simple user interface—from an overhead satellite, a cell phone network, or an internal memory chip.”

E Ink

By the 1990s competitors began entering the e-paper market. E Ink, founded in 1998 by a group of scientists and engineers from MIT’s Media Lab including Russ Wilcox, developed a concept similar to Sheridon’s. Instead of using rotating beads with white and black hemispheres, E Ink introduced a method of suspending microencapsulated cells filled with both black and white particles in a thin transparent film. Electrical charges to the film caused the black or white particles to rise to the top of the microcapsules and create the appearance of a printed page.

E Ink’s e-paper technology was initially implemented by Sony in 2004 in the first commercially available e-reader called LIBRIe. In 2006, Motorola integrated an E Ink display in its F3 cellular phone. A year later, Amazon included E Ink’s 6-inch display in the first Amazon Kindle which became by far the most popular device of its kind.

Subsequent generations of Kindle devices have integrated E Ink displays with progressively improved contrast, resolution and energy consumption. By 2011, the third generation Kindle included touch screen capability (the original Kindle had an integrated hardware keyboard for input).

The current edition of the Kindle Paperwhite (3rd Generation) combines back lighting and a touch interface with E Ink Carta technology and a resolution of 300 pixels per inch. Many other e-readers such as the Barnes & Noble Nook, the Kobo, the Onyx Boox and the PocketBook also use E Ink products for their displays.

Historical Parallel

The quest to replicate, as closely as possible in electronic form, the appearance of ink on paper is logical enough. In the absence of a practical and culturally established form, the new media naturally strives to emulate that which came before it. This process is reminiscent of the evolution of the first printed books. For many decades, print carried over the characteristics of the books that were hand-copied by scribes.

It is well-known that Gutenberg’s “mechanized handwriting” invention (1440-50) sought to imitate the best works of the Medieval monks. The Gutenberg Bible, for instance, has two columns of print text while everything else about the volume —paper, size, ornamental drop caps, illustrations, gold leaf accents, binding, etc.—required techniques that preceded the invention of printing. Thus, the initial impact of Gutenberg’s system was an increase in the productivity of book duplication and the displacement of scribes; it would take some time for the implications of the new process to work its way through the function, form and content of books.

More than a half century later—following the spread of Gutenberg’s invention to the rest of Europe—the book began to evolve dramatically and take on attributes specific to printing and other changes taking place in society. For example, by the first decade of the 1500s, books were no longer stationary objects to be read in exclusive libraries and reading rooms of the privileged few. As their cost dropped, editions became more plentiful and literacy expanded, books were being read everywhere and by everybody.

By the middle 1500s, both the form and content of books became transformed. To facilitate their newfound portability, the size of books fell from the folio (14.5” x 20”) to the octavo the octavo dimension (7”x 10.5”).

By the beginning of the next century, popular literature—the first European novel is widely recognized as Cervantes’ Don Quixote of 1605—supplanted verse and classic texts. New forms of print media developed such as chapbooks, broadsheets and newspapers.

Next Generation E-Paper

It seems clear that the dominance of LCD displays on computers, mobile and handheld devices is a factor in the persistent affinity of the public for print books. Much of the technology investment and advancement of the past decade—coming from companies such as Apple Computer—has been committed to computer miniaturization and mobility, not the transition from print to electronic media. While first decade e-readers have made important strides, most e-books are still being read on devices that are visually distant from print books, impeding a more substantial migration to the new media.

Additionally, most current e-paper devices have many unpaper like characteristics such as relatively small size, inflexibility, limited bit-depth and the inability to write on them. All current model e-paper Kindles, for example, are limited to 6-inch displays with 16 grey levels beneath a heavy and fragile layer of glass and no support for handwriting.

The Sony Digital Paper System (DPT-S1) is based on E Ink’s Mobius e-paper display technology:
13.3” format, flexible and supports stylus handwriting (pictured right).

A new generation of e-paper systems is now being developed that overcome many of these limitations. In 2014, Sony released its Digital Paper System (DPT- S1) that is a letter-size e-reader and e-notebook (for $1,100 at launch and currently selling for $799). The DPT-S1 is based on E Ink’s Mobius display, a 13.3” thin film transistor (TFT) platform that is flexible and can accept handwriting from a stylus.

Since it does not have any glass, the new Sony device weighs 12.6 oz or about half of a similar LCD-based tablet. With the addition of stylus-based handwriting capability, the device functions like an electronic notepad and, meanwhile, notes can be written in the margins of e-books and other electronic documents.

These advancements and others show that e-paper is positioned for a renewed surge into things that have yet to be conceived. Once a flat surface can be curved or even folded and then made to transform itself into any image—including a color image—at any time and at very low cost and very low energy consumption, then many things are possible like e-wall paper, e-wrapping paper, e-milk cartons and e-price tags. The possibilities are enormous.

Charles Stanhope (1753 – 1816)

Charles Stanhope (1753 – 1816)

Iron Printing Press

By Kevin R. Donley • kevin@multimediaman.org


Historians generally agree that the first industrial revolution took place between 1760 and 1840. Among the features of the great economic and social transformation were: (1) the progression from predominantly rural to urban society, (2) the replacement of handicraft with machine production, (3) the introduction of iron and steel in place of wood and (4) the substitution of muscle power with new energy sources like coal-fired steam power.

A unique set of circumstances – a stable commercial environment, advances in iron making and an abundance of skilled mechanics —made Britain the birthplace of the industrial revolution. Beginning with new techniques in textile production, industrial innovations spread rapidly to other manufacturing sectors and then across national borders in Europe and around the globe. All aspects of life would be touched by industrialization: population, politics, trade and commerce, science and culture, education, transportation and communication.

It was during this era of remarkable change that the English aristocrat Charles Stanhope invented—sometime around 1800—the first printing press constructed wholly of iron. Prior to Stanhope’s achievement, the design and build of printing machines had not changed in the three and a half centuries since Gutenberg.

Previously, small adjustments had been made to the wooden press. These related to structural stability, increased sheet size and automation to reduce human muscle power. But, even with the inclusion of some iron parts, the basic design of printing presses remained as they were in 1450.

With the Stanhope hand press, both the design of the impression mechanism as well as the material from which the machine was built were transformed; Stanhope’s contribution was a crucial preliminary step in the industrial development of print communications.

Young Lord Stanhope

Charles Stanhope, third Earl Stanhope, was born on August 3, 1753, the younger of two sons of Philip Stanhope, second Earl Stanhope, and his wife Lady Grisel (Hamilton) Stanhope. As a member of the English peerage system—with titles like Duke, Earl and Baron—Charles is often referred to as Lord Stanhope or Earl Stanhope. Born into the English aristocracy, he was afforded a privileged upbringing and, at the age of nine, was enrolled by his parents at prestigious Eton boarding school.

In 1763, following the death at age seventeen of his brother Philip from tuberculosis, Charles became family heir. His parents decided that Charles’ “health should not be exposed to the English climate, or the care of his mind to the capricious attention of the English schoolmaster” and the family relocated to Geneva, Switzerland. At age eleven, he was enrolled at the school in Geneva founded on the principles of John Calvin and there studied philosophy, science and math.

As a teenager, Charles was known to be a devoted cricket player, an exceptional equestrian and a well mannered young man who was admired by his peers. At age seventeen, Charles won a prize in a Swedish competition for the best essay, written in French, on the construction of a pendulum.

While Charles was accomplished academically in math and science, he was also known to have talents in drawing and painting. As a nobleman, Charles had obligations as a militia commander and he developed a passion for archery and musket shooting. At eighteen, he won a competition and was crowned the best shot and so-called “King of the Arquebusiers.”

By the time Charles completed his education in Switzerland, his parents decided to move the family back to England. According to a published account, as the family and its entourage left Geneva in 1774, “The young gentleman was obliged to come out again and again to his old friends and companions who pressed round the coach to bid him farewell, and expressed their sorrow for his departure and their wishes for his prosperity.”

Stanhope the Inventor

During their five-month journey home to England from Switzerland, the family made a stop in Paris. Charles was welcomed and “esteemed by most of the learned educated men of the capital” over the prize he had won for his paper on pendulum design. He was developing an international reputation as an innovator.

Upon his return to England, Charles used his skills in mechanics to win election to London’s Royal Society, a world renowned club founded by King Charles in the 17th century to promote the benefits and accomplishments of science. At the age of 20, Charles embarked on a series of self-funded experiments and inventions and his interest in such matters continued throughout his life.

The most important of these were:
• A method for preventing counterfeiting of gold currency (1775)
• A system for fireproofing houses by starving a fire of air (1778)
• Several mechanical “arithmetical machines” that could add, subtract, multiply and divide. These inventions were early forerunners of computers (1777 and 1780).
• Experiments in steamboat navigation and ship construction which included the invention of the split pin, later known as the Cottier pin (1789).
• A popular single lens microscope that became known as the Stanhope that was used in medical practice and for examination of transparent materials such as crystals and fluids (1806).
• A monochord or a single string device, used for tuning musical instruments.
• Improvements in canal locks and inland navigation (1806).

Charles Stanhope became so well accomplished in international scientific circles that he was befriended by Benjamin Franklin. The two spent time together during Franklin’s visits to England prior to the American Revolution. They shared a mutual interest in electricity and, in 1779, Charles Stanhope published a volume entitled “Principles of Electricity” that corroborated through experimental evidence Franklin’s ideas about lighting rods.

The Stanhope Press

By 1800, as has often happened in graphic arts history, the environment became ripe for a major step forward in printing methods. Charles Stanhope—who had the desire, know-how and resources to make it happen—stepped forward with a significant breakthrough.

Due to his many democratic political pursuits and scientific publishing activities—some of which concerned freedom of the press—Charles was very familiar with printing technology. Among his concerns were the cost of production, the accuracy of the content, the beauty of the print quality and the importance of books for the expansion of knowledge in society as a whole.

All letterpress technologies require a means to transfer ink from the surface of the metal type forms to the paper. This process requires the application of pressure, i.e. an impression, that mechanically drives the ink into the paper fibers. The pressure also creates a slight indentation in the shape of the letter forms in the surface of the paper.

Prior to 1800, press designs were based on the screw press that had been used for pressing grapes (wine) and olives (oil), cloth and paper going back to Roman times. The screw mechanism is a complex arrangement of the screw, nut, spindle and fixed bar that drives the platen—the flat plate that presses the paper against the type form—downward. There are many historical drawings and engravings that illustrate how physical strength is required to pull the bar and make a printing impression with the Gutenberg era press design.

Stanhope’s innovation, according to historian James Moran, was that “he retained the conventional screw but separated it from the spindle and bar, inserting a system of compound levers between them. The effect of several levers acting upon another is to multiply considerably the power applied.” The compound lever system was so successful that it became referred to as “Stanhope principles” and was incorporated into subsequent generations of hand press design in the nineteenth century (Columbian, Albion and Washington).

Other important Stanhope press changes were:

• All iron construction including a massive frame formed in one piece

• A double size platen

• A regulator that controlled the intensity of the impression

The Stanhope press would undergo several important modifications, the most important of which was strengthening the frame in 1806 to prevent the iron from cracking under the stress of repeated impressions. The second design—with its characteristic rounded cheeks—is what today is commonly associated with the Stanhope press.

The Times of London immediately adopted the Stanhope press and it became successful across Europe and America in the first few decades of the 1800s. Meanwhile, further developments with all-iron hand presses would continue up to the end of the nineteenth century. However, driven by the rapid advancement of the industrial revolution, the next stage in the evolution of press design—the introduction of cylinders and steam power—would rapidly eclipse Stanhope’s accomplishments.

Stanhope the Statesmen

Charles 3rd Earl Stanhope was an unusual man. In addition to his many inventions and scientific studies, he devoted himself to radical political causes that often controverted his aristocratic background. He often referred to himself as “Citizen” Stanhope. The origins of his democratic leanings were to be found in the influence of his father—who was a member of Parliament and an outspoken critic of the crown and proponent of Habeas Corpus—his education in the radical environment of Geneva and the Revolutions in America (1776) and France (1789).

Known publicly as Viscount Mahon at the time, Charles was elected to Parliament in 1780 and adopted positions that conflicted with the political elite. His demands for electoral and finance reform and religious tolerance of dissenters and Catholics did not sit well with the establishment. Charles was also known to have campaigned against slavery and was party to the abolition bill known as the Slave Trade Act of 1807.

Charles Stanhope was an opponent of the war against the thirteen colonies and a supporter of John Wilkes, a British sympathizer of the American rebels. Despite his efforts on behalf of the oppressed and downtrodden in society, Charles Stanhope’s personal eccentricities caused him, especially later in life, to be isolated from his family.
Always thinking of others before himself, he allowed his manse at Chevening, Kent to fall into disrepair and it is speculated that he had starved himself to death on a diet of soup and barley water. Charles Stanhope was interred “as a very poor man” in the family vault at Chevening Church one week after his death on December 17, 1816.

Health Insurance

Health Insurance

BCBSM has individual health insurance plans available to PIM members. Association Benefits Company, an authorized independent agency with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, is here to help you take care of your families and your employees. Call them today to discuss the individual and group options available to you. They work with all agents!

Description for Individual Coverage:

Introducing MyBlueSM– Individual Coverage direct with BCBSM

Printing Industries of Michigan now offers new BCBSM health care plans for individuals and families at all stages of life. Whether you’re single, a recent college graduate, self-employed, starting a family, or considering early retirement, BCBSM has a plan to meet your needs and budget. Click here for eligibility, review plan options and to enroll on line!

Description for Group Coverage:

Employers providing health insurance for employees

Printing Industries of Michigan now offers new BCBSM health care plans for individuals and families at all stages of life. Whether you’re single, a recent college graduate, self-employed, starting a family, or considering early retirement, BCBSM has a plan to meet your needs and budget. Click here to get started with our BCBSM/BCN Administrator!

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