Print's Past: Tying up a Job

Tying up a page of metal type was no simple operation for the compositor. It required precision, care and lots of practice.

Firstly, the compositor would put a lead at the head and foot of the type-matter. He would then take a length of page cord [a special twine used by printers] and with one hand he would place the end of the cord at the furthest corner of the job, allowing about half an inch of the cord to protrude. With the other hand he would bring the cord around the job and over the protruding piece of cord continuing to wind it around the job, and tightening the cord firmly at each corner to maintain an even tension. When the job had been tied to within two inches of the end of the cord, the loose end would be pushed in then drawn up in to a loop with the aid of a setting rule.

A good compositor would never tie a knot in the page cord when tying up a job.

When the page cord was firmly secured, it would be pushed evenly down to the centre of the type-matter and the job would then be ready for proofing, or for moving on to the imposing surface for locking up.