Monday, January 21, 2008

Star Composing Stick

Here's another goodie - the famous "Star" stick. The Star was another variation that was fixated on keeping the knee perfectly parallel to the end-plate of the stick. This ingenious knee used a simple clamping mechanism that tightened the knee against the stick, and also locked teeth into grooves cut along the bottom of the stick, thereby firmly locking the knee not only to the correct measure, but holding it firmly across the entire depth of the knee, keeping it from getting sprung. The teeth were spaced an agate apart (ie., 6 points), so the stick could only be adjusted to full- and half-pica measures.
According to Speckter, one of the problems with this design was that the knees tended to get broken due to compositors tightening them too much. As a result, he says that the company enjoyed a thriving business in selling replacement knees. This particular example is quite a nice one. It is 12-1/4 inches long and 12 picas deep. It retains nearly all of the original chrome, or nickel plating, which was added to better quality sticks before the advent of stainless steel. The patent dates are 1904 and 1905, although the stick was made for quite a number of years. This one is stamped "The Star Tool Mfg. Co.", but I also have examples stamped "Eagle Mfg. Co." - I do not know if this was a different company entirely or simply a successor company to the Star company. Maybe someone out there knows the answer to this, and could email me the information at
Thanks to Paul Young for the pictures of the ATF advertising folder regarding the Star stick.

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