KOENIG: his first Powered Printing Machines 1803 - 1818 (continued)

The Double Cylinder Machine (for newspapers)


__This machine was patented in April, 1812 and was built according to the same principle as the 'single' but with the addition of a second impression cylinder. These pressed against a common forme, thereby fully utilising both forward and backward motion of the type bed. Bed drive rack was somewhat longer to cater for the additional cylinder. The inking system was modified in favour of the recently discovered moulded 'composition' roller (a mixture of glue and molasses) and the single ink reservoir was retained to supply ink to both ends. The cylinder friskets frames were abolished in favour of endless tension tapes and rolls.

__The construction of the first newspaper machine was still, however, a work of great difficulty and labour. It must be remembered that nothing of the kind had yet been made by any other inventor. The single-cylinder machine, which Mr. Walter had seen at work, was intended for bookwork only. Now Koenig had to construct a larger double-cylinder machine for printing newspapers, in which many of the arrangements must necessarily be entirely new. With the assistance of his partner, Bauer, aided by suggestions of Mr. Walter himself, Koenig at length completed his plans, and proceeded with the erection of the working machine. The parts were manufactured at the Whitecross Street address and secretly transported to the premises in Printing House Square, adjoining the Times office, where they were assembled.
__Nearly two years elapsed before the 'double' was completed. Knowing that 'The Times' pressmen had heard rumours about this 'steam press' and had vowed 'destruction to him  and  his  traps', Walter warned them against using any violence and offered to assist those whose jobs would be lost. The first newspaper ever printed on a steam-powered cylindrical machine was produced in the early hours of the 29th November, 1814. 1100 sheets per hour printed one side were claimed for this machine (pictured). The owners were overjoyed. It is worthwhile to note the article printed in the same paper on this auspicious occasion.

"Our Journal of this day presents to the Public the practical result of the greatest improvement connected with printing since the discovery of the art itself. The reader of this paragraph now holds in his hand one of the many thousand impressions of The Times newspaper which were taken off last night by a mechanical apparatus. A system of machinery almost organic has been devised and arranged, which, while it relieves the human frame of its most laborious' efforts in printing, far exceeds all human powers in rapidity and dispatch. That the magnitude of the invention may be justly appreciated by its effects, we shall inform the public, that after the letters are placed by the compositors, and enclosed in what is called the forme, little more remains for man to do than to attend upon and to watch this unconscious agent in its operations. The machine is then merely supplied with paper: itself places the forme, inks it, adjusts the paper to the forme newly inked, stamps the sheet, and gives it forth to the hands of the attendant, at the same time withdrawing the form for a fresh coat of ink, which itself again distributes, to meet the ensuing sheet now advancing for impression; and the whole of these complicated acts is performed with such a velocity and simultaneousness of movement, that no less than 1100 sheets are impressed in one hour.

"That the completion of an invention of this kind, not the effect of chance, but the result of mechanical combinations methodically arranged in the mind of the artist, should be attended with many obstructions and much delay, may be readily imagined. Our share in this event has, indeed, only been the application of the discovery, under an arrangement with the patentees, to our own particular business; yet few can conceive - even with this limited interest -  the various disappointments and deep anxiety for which we have  for a long course of time been subjected.

"Of the person who made this discovery we have but little to add.

"Sir Christopher Wren's noblest monument is to be found in the building which he erected; so is the best tribute of praise which we are capable of offering to the inventor of the printing machine, comprised in the preceding description, which we have feebly sketched, of the powers and utility of his invention. It must suffice to say further, that he is a Saxon by birth; that his name is Koenig; and that the invention has been executed under the direction of his friend and countryman, Bauer."

__The machine continued to work steadily and satisfactorily, notwithstanding the doubters, the unbelievers, and the threateners of vengeance. The leading article of The Times for December 3rd, 1814, contains the following statement:-

"The machine on which we announced the discovery and our adoption a few days ago, has been whirling  on its course ever since, with improving order, regularity and even speed. The length of the debates on Thursday, the day when Parliament was adjourned, will have been observed; on such an occasion the operation of composing and printing the last page must commence among all the journals at the same moment; we, with our infinitely superior circulation, were enabled to throw off our whole impression many hours before the respectable rival prints. The accuracy and clearness of the impression will likewise excite attention."

__The newspaper having been printed with this machine for some years and the number of the copies being considerably multiplied, it was necessary to increase the velocity of the machine, in order to produce from 1500 to 2000 copies per hour. This was effected by making use of some of the improvements of the fourth patent, which utilised a continuous rotational action of the impression cylinder.