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AN ALBION PRESS, KING ARTHUR AND BENNY LANDA

Monday, 17 November 2014 | By Gerry Mulvaney

 

By Gerry Mulvaney, European Sales Manager, Landa Digital Printing

I admit that it’s stretching credulity to the limit, but there is a connection between Benny Landa and England’s legendary King Arthur of the Round Table fame and it is sitting in the main reception of Landa Digital Printing in Rehovot, Israel.

The Albion press, so named after a part of the King’s Arthurian Brittania, greets visitors who have come to see the latest developments in Nanography®, and was presented to Benny a few years ago by a large offset press manufacturer.

It is a beautiful piece of engineering, a bit like a Landa S10 Nanographic Printing® Press, but a lot less complicated and not connected to a network! It is apparently so named in response to another type of press called a Columbian and which was manufactured in the USA. Both the Albion and Columbian were developed in the 1820s and Benny’s Albion press was manufactured in Finsbury in London by Hopkinson and Cope in 1843 and was number 1650 that the company produced. The inventor of the Albion press was said Richard Cope and after he died in 1828 the Hopkinson’s continued to improve Cope’s original design and later licenced it to other manufacturers.

When you look at the press the resemblance to a wine or olive press is obvious. It was here that the origins of the simple toggle design were developed and later adopted by Richard Cope. The Albion press is based on Johannes Gutenberg’s metal printing technique and comprises a bed which houses the type, locked into a metal “chase” and the large metal and wooden lever which brings down a pressure plate.

Albion press at Landa

Albion press at Landa

Benny’s inspiring Albion press at Landa Digital Printing

Of course this is not “offset” printing, so the type is set in a mirror image in the chase and requires careful checking by the printer before use! The metal type is first inked by hand with an ink roller and then a sheet of blank paper or parchment is laid carefully onto the type and packed with some more sheets of paper. The lever is then pulled creating the impression of the inked type onto the paper. The lever is then pushed back to the base position and the printed sheet is extracted. Apparently a skilled printer could produce up to 400 sheets a day using an Albion press and it was deemed far more productive than the Columbian press because of the single lever action.

The Albion Press – Excellence that Still Inspires

Quite what the provenance of Benny’s Albion press is we don’t know. What we do know is that the presses were installed in large numbers around the world in particular in the old British Empire territories and examples can be found in museums from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Ireland.

The press is an inspiring sight for today’s young engineers at Landa Digital Printing. It shows how their counterparts in 1843 produced a product that can still be used for its original purpose today and has survived several generations of use since it left the factory in London. It’s a great example for them to emulate.

Landa S10 - Printing Press