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

The Improved Double Cylinder Machine (for newspapers)


A second patent was taken out in June, 1813 for 'improvements'. The impression cylinders, the same diameter as the originals, were altered to 'wheel round continually, and on this account they can be moved with a greater velocity than formerly. On each of them there is at present only one printing plate, [tympan] covered with felt'.  How the 'double' appeared after this alteration is shown in the diagram below. The feeders, endless tapes and "wheel-work" [gear drives] are also featured.

The illustration right shows the 'wheel-work' [gearing] for driving the impression cylinders and the stop-start forwarding action of the endless feeding tapes. Below: The sheet feeders and endless tapes for guiding/holding the paper firmly to the cylinders.

__One would think that Koenig would now feel himself in smooth water, and receive a share of the good fortune which he had so laboriously prepared for others. Nothing of the kind! His merits were disputed; his rights were denied; his patents were in-fringed; and he never received any solid advantages for his invention, until he left the country and took refuge in Germany. He remained for a few years longer, in charge of the factory in Whitecross Street, but they were years to him of trouble and sorrow.

__While Koenig was taking steps to push the sale of his book-printing machines among the London printers, Bensley, himself a book-printer, was hindering him in every way in his negotiations. Koenig was of the opinion that Bensley wished to retain the exclusive advantage of his sophisticated machine to the detriment of others. Under these circumstances, Koenig had only two alternatives. One was to commence an expensive and protracted suit in Chancery against Bensley; and the other, to abandon his invention in England and return to Germany, which he did in August, 1817.

__Mr. Richard Taylor, later wrote in the 'Philosophical Magazine,' in which he honestly attributes to him the sole merit of the invention, stated, "Mr Koenig left England, suddenly, in disgust at the treacherous conduct of Bensley, always shabby and over-reaching, and whom he found to be laying a scheme for defrauding his partners in the patents of all the advantages to arise from them. Bensley, however, while he destroyed the prospects of his partners, outwitted himself, and grasping at all, lost all, becoming bankrupt in fortune as well as in character."
__Koenig was badly used throughout. His merits as an inventor were denied. On the 3rd of January, 1818, Bensley published a letter in the Literary Gazette, in which he speaks of the printing machine as his own, not mentioning Koenig. 'The British Encyclopaedia,' in describing the inventors, also omitted the name of Koenig. The 'Mechanics Magazine,' for September, 1847 attributed the invention to the Proprietors of The Times. The introductory chapter to 'Patents for Inventions in Printing', attributes the merit to William Nicholson patent (No. 1748). [Nicholson never built a machine!] In other publications, the claim of Bacon and Donkin and Cowper were put forward while those of the real inventor were ignored. Koenig, observed from Germany, "It is really too bad that these people, who have already robbed me of my invention, should now try to rob me of my reputation".
__Though England was virtually closed against him, the whole continent of Europe was open to him, and presented a wide field for the sale of his printing machines. He selected an old disused convent at Oberzel, near Wartzburg, on the river Main for his manufactory, with the Bavarian Government granting easy lease terms. Great difficulties were experienced early on as advanced engineering tools were still in their infancy and skilled tradesmen were virtually non-existent in this part of Germany.
__Orders for printing machines were gradually obtained. The first came from Brockhaus, of Leipzig. By the end of the fourth year, two other single-cylinder machines were completed and sent to Berlin, for use in the State printing office. By the end of the eighth year, seven double cylinder steam presses had been made for the largest newspaper printers in Germany. By 1829, the firm had manufactured fifty-one machines for leading book printers. The Oberzell plant was now in full work, and gave regular work to about 120 men.