Friday, December 28, 2007

Improved Standard Job Stick

As mentioned in a previous posting, here is a description of the so-called "Improved" Standard Job Stick. This model was made primarily by the H.B. Rouse Company of Chicago, but was also made by Golding and Company of Boston. They are sometimes stamped with the manufacturer's name, but are sometimes not stamped. I will note the way to tell them apart later. This particular stick is a Rouse stick, 7-3/4 inches long. I have no information as to when this type of stick was introduced. If anyone has additional historical information, I'd be happy to hear it at
Anyway, the Improved Standard Job Stick is very similar to the Standard Job Stick, with one major difference. Instead of having a row of tiny rectangular holes along the rail into which pegs in the knee fit, the Improved Stick has a row of small round holes along the rail. The clamp, which is not attached to the knee but is a separate piece, has a small round pin that fits through the hole in the rail and then into one of several holes in the knee - the clamp is then closed to hold the knee firmly in place. The knee has several holes into which the pin can be placed. Depending on which hole is used, the measure can be set to a full picas, half-picas, or smaller increments - apparently two additional increments are possible.
While the adjustment system works well and adjustments can be made fairly easily, the flaw in the system is that the pin on the clamp tends to be quite fragile, and the pins become loose or even detached - one of my Improved sticks has been welded, apparently due to the pin having broken loose from the clamp, thus requiring a repair.
Now, as to discriminating between the Rouse and Golding sticks, if you look at the last photograph, you will see the clamp from a Rouse stick on the left and the clamp from a Golding stick on the right. The bottom edge of the clamp on the Rouse stick is straight, while the bottom edge of the clamp on the Golding stick has a curved section.
One would be hard-pressed to explain how this stick is an "improvement" over the Standard Job Stick. The only advantage that I see to this stick is that there are a couple of additional fine adjustments that can be made to the line length, and perhaps it is easier to make line-length adjustments by taking off the clamp and placing the pin in a different hole in the knee than it is to turn that tiny lever on the knee of the Standard Job Stick (which is often pretty difficult, as the levers tend to get frozen). But I confess that I always set my line length to a full pica measure, so it doesn't do me any good to have the ability to make the finer adjustments.
Speckter notes that the Improved stick is commonly used on the West Coast of America, while the Standard Job Stick is used more commonly elsewhere in the U.S. He speculates that this is purely because the Improved stick had some wider acceptance on the West Coast, and since printers are notoriously resistant to change, people have continued to use them. It's much like computer software, I think. You learn how to use a particular word processing software, or spreadsheet software, and you then insist that it is the best, because you don't want to have to learn a different software. I still use the option in Microsoft Excel, for instance, that allows you to use the keystroke commands from Lotus 1-2-3, which I learned about thirty years ago. Let's face it - humans fear change! Don't make me learn something new when what I've been doing so far works just fine!
Update: Steve Saxe kindly sent me updated information regarding this stick. In fact, the Rouse Improved Standard Job Stick was copied from the Golding Standard Job Stick, which was designed by Henry L. Bullen in 1886. Steve sent along a scan of the Jan. 1886 issue of "Bulletin of Novelties", a trade publication of the Golding Co., and I am adding the scan to this post. Note that the original Golding stick had a knee that was not braced. All of my Rouse Improved sticks have braced knees, while the two Goldings that I own have knees that are not braced.

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