That is printing then, printing now. It's amazing that printing images has gone from a high skilled job (engraving) to a low-skilled one (photocopying) and back to a high skilled one. (Coding. Although anyone can blunder along with the help of a high level blogging app.)
Maybe it's all magic?
|Sixty years on, Bob or his buddies or someone can afford to run a storefront museum of linotype. What a nice retirement project!|
Now that I've juxtaposed two images and talked around the salient point that I feel is to gauche to make explicit, let's talk about the "Politics Note" published in the 14 June 1947 number of The Economist (p. 929--30, if you need it for Document Delivery) under the heading, "Postal Service."
If you'll pardon me complaining out of character about the late-Forties style of The Economist for a moment, editorial really does not get the whole thing about "Who, where, why and what," and opens by mentioning that "there was a short debate in the House of Commons on Friday of last week on the recent deterioration of the postal service." For this to be news, I'd suggest, the story would have to name the speakers. It doesn't, of course. It goes on to outline the nature of the deterioration, as agreed by "both sides:" first morning delivery is now later, last evening collection is now earlier. It would, of course, be silly to explain why this is bad (except that the story will do so, in a moment.) Instead, it leaps frameworks from debate to the statement of the Assistant Postmaster-General (unless this person is an MP responding to the Opposition) that this is necessary to "save manpower," and "would do little harm."
I guess the appending of that little stinger justifies The Economist now changing frame again and explaining how earlier/later postal service does harm; although to do so it must bring up another curtailment in postal service hitherto unmentioned, the "suppression of all afternoon deliveries (except in Central London.)" Combined, this means that people who do not return for work until after late collection (no later than 6:30) will be "unable to deal with their private correspondence by return of post." By which I think that the editor means that when he works late at the office, he can't do business on a next-day's basis, although I may just be letting my dislike for the institutional voice of The Economist run away with me.
The note goes on to add that "[t] debate was, by tacit agreement, confined to the letter post. But there is another aspect of the postal services which is of closer interest to The Economist." (The Economist, unlike Flight, doesn't hold with the old-fashioned use of the third person to refer to itself.) "Thousands of copies" of The Economist, including one for the University of British Columbia Library in faraway Vancouver, British Columbia, are taken to the GPO at Mount Pleasant, where, "in the past, and even during the war (except on a few occasions when the services were disrupted by the blitz)", this left plenty of time for The Economist to be distributed in England by the first post on Saturday.
|Source: James Addison, blogging for the Postal Museum.|
Since the whole point of curtailing late pickups at 6:30 and ending the earliest delivery was the shortage of overnight workers, there is a real risk that all Economist deliveries will be held up from Saturday to Sunday. The Economist proceeds to complain, although unfortunately I have truncated p. 930 and can't provide an exact quote. Is this a good place to point out that the graveyard shift is very hard on many people. High unemployment will drive people onto the night shift, but if you'll take this from someone who has done his share of night work in difficult conditions, you may, as an employer be disappointed by the results. I am going to propose, just for a second, that the people who flourish on night shift, and they exist, may be said to have a skill worth paying for. But then you have to pay for it with higher postal rates.
It may be straying too far into politics, but I often get the impression that The Economist misses the old days of systemic, high unemployment, and is blissfully unaware that, even as far as labour goes, you get what you pay for. Unfortunately, England is in the midst of its whole "Export or die" thing, and can't afford high unemployment, but the constant refrain of "In the future, when it is no longer a seller's market. . ." could almost be accompanied by rubbed hands and a maniacal laugh. (It isn't.)
This is a bank of teletype machines. They have keyboards, like typewriters. That makes them women's work.
|The Wikipedia caption reads "WACS operate teletypes, WWII."|
These are linotype machines, which are used to prepare plates for the presses.
Men's work (because of the industrial-type workings) or women's work (because of the keyboard? Tough call.
In English, that means an input tape:
A more cynical person would suggest something about replacing men's work with women's work, but this is too simple. As the Publisher's Letter points out, you can't actually format a page in an illustrated magazine with a teletypesetter. It's the skill of the operator that does that, by manipulating line lengths and kerning to make room for images. Transmitting Time in the late Forties would presumably have required both photographic mockups and teletype tapes. run the tapes through the linotypes, and you will --magically-- have a page plate with room to insert your chosen photograph of a bloody-eyed Bugsy Siegel staring back at you, or the charred corpse of Grace Moore. It turns out that you can can save time, but you can't get rid of skill . . . .