Page 16 - March 2014
P. 16

Ron Prosser (9405)

    REINVENTING THE WHEEL

WOULD you believe, it was a morning when              Should I have a go, I conjectured? Brown sugar
the rain poured relentlessly and not wishing          was no problem and I could probably buy
to go out and get drenched I decided to clear         glycerine from the chemist, but where would
out that cupboard that I had put off doing for         I get gum-arabic mucilage? And of course the
so long. I am glad I did for I was surprised at       rain was sƟll pouring down and I didn't feel
what I found. One of the things was an old            like venturing out. Perhaps another day! On
Typewriter Ribbon Ɵn. Do you remember                 the other hand, what was the point, I didn't
those? It was purple in colour and contained          even have a typewriter and if I had I could
a Coronet Ribbon that was actually made in            probably sƟll buy one in Smith's.
England but the ribbon was so old that it had
lost its usefulness as the ink had dried up.          It then occurred to me that I was like one of
                                                      our prinƟng trainees who had been given
I had an 1891 book 'The Printers' Handbook of         the task of binding some books and decided
Trade Recipes' and I remembered that many             that instead of using the branded PVA paste
years ago I had seen a recipe for re-inking a         that we always used, that he would make
typewriter ribbon so I got out the book and           his own paste from a recipe he had found
looked it up. Here it is:                             on the internet and had duly purchased the
                                                      necessary brand of flour and proceeded to
"In two ounces or more of any ordinary writing        make it up. He was so pleased to have done
fluid put a spoonful of thick gum-arabic mucilage     so and the covers he was making looked good.
and a teaspoonful of brown sugar, warm the            However, the following morning when they
mixture and immerse the ribbon long enough to         had dried, it was discovered that they were
become well saturated. When dry, spread the           warped and just would not lie flat and had to
ribbon on a board and brush it well with glycerine.   be reprinted—an expensive experiment.
Should there be too much "colour" in the ribbon
press it out, between papers, with a warm flat        The writer of my typewriter re-inking recipe
iron; or if too dry, brush it again with glycerine.   concluded by staƟng: "It may be I was fortunate
The secret of the ribbon giving out its colour is in  in hitting upon just the right proportion of the
the glycerine, and if you have body enough in the     different constituents, and possibly a second trial
colour there is no danger that it cannot be made to   might not be so successful, but I think with a little
work well."                                           care, anyone could do as well."

The writer of the recipe indicated that the           I doubt that I would have been successful and
ribbon he had re-inked was much beƩer than            certainly our trainee's experiment with his
any obtained from the trade and he never              own paste was not, but perhaps he was right
expected to buy another ribbon again.                 in at least trying to 'reinvent the wheel' for in
                                                      so doing he had learned something.

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