Saturday, January 26, 2008

W. Notting Ltd. British Composing Stick

Here's another really sweet composing stick. This stick was manufactured by the W. Notting Ltd. company in London - it is stamped "Stephenson Blake Co. Ltd.", so it was obviously sold by Stephenson Blake. This stick is made of fairly thin, but strong, stainless steel. It is 9-1/2 inches long and 12 picas deep, with a capacity of 42 picas in line length.
At first glance, it seems like a common screw stick. But it is not. It is a sophisticated advancement over the common screw stick, although it does include a brass screw that tightens the knee against the rail. However, it has several other features that make it a very high quality, precision tool. First, it should be noted that the rail has a beaded portion at the conjunction of the rail and the body of the stick to increase its strength. The end-plate of the stick is iron which is riveted to the plate. The open edge of the body of the stick, instead of being simply the edge of the metal, actually is made up of a serrated edge which is folded over to the bottom side of the stick. The knee has a spring-loaded L-shaped piece of iron that wraps around the top edge of the stick, and has teeth that engage with the serrated edge of the stick. When adjusted to the desired measure, these teeth hold the knee firmly in place at the top edge of the stick, while the screw holds the knee firmly against the rail.
The addition of a graceful curving brace on the knee makes for a very, very firm locking mechanism to assure an accurate line measure, with clamps on the knee extending around to the bottom of the stick at both the rail and the top edge of the stick. To adjust the measure, you loosen the screw and then press down on the L-shaped piece at the top of the knee, thereby disengaging the teeth from the serrated edge of the stick. When the knee is at the desired measure, you remove the pressure on the L-shaped piece, and the spring presses against the piece, engaging the teeth in the serrated edge and locking the knee in place.
This is one choice stick.

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