Saturday, 29 November 2014

29th November 1814: The Times newspaper automates their printing operation

The Tuesday morning 29th November 1814 edition of The Times was the first one printed using the new automated steam-powered printing press designed & built by Friedrich König & Andreas Bauer of Würzburg, Germany. The editorial waxed lyrical about the new machine:


Our Journal of this day presents to the public the practical result of the greatest improvement connected with printing, since the discovery of the art itself. The reader of this paragraph now holds in his hand, one of the many thousand impressions of The Times newspaper, which were taken off last night by a mechanical apparatus. A system of machinery almost organic has been devised and arranged, which, while it relieves the human frame of its most laborious efforts in printing, far exceeds all human powers in rapidity and dispatch. That the magnitude of the invention may be justly appreciated by its effects, we shall inform the public, that after the letters are placed by the compositors, and enclosed in what is called the form, little more remains for man to do, than to attend upon, and watched this unconscious agent in its operations. The machine is then merely supplied with paper: itself places the form, inks it, adjusts the paper to the form newly inked, stamps the sheet, and gives it forth to the hands of the attendant, at the same time withdrawing the form for a fresh coat of ink, which itself again distributes, to meet the ensuing sheet now advancing for impression; and the whole of these complicated acts is performed with such a velocity and simultaneousness of movement, that no less than eleven hundred sheets are impressed in one hour.

That the completion of an invention of this kind, not the effect  of chance, but the result of mechanical combinations methodically arranged in the mind of the artist, should be attended with many obstructions and much delay, may be readily admitted. Our share in this event has, indeed, only been the application of the discovery, under an agreement with the Patentees, to our own particular business; yet few can conceive,—even with this limited interest,—the various disappointments and deep anxiety to which we have for a long course of time been subjected.

Of the person who made this discovery, we have but little to add. Sir CHRISTOPHER WREN'S noblest monument is to be found in the building which he erected; so is the best tribute of praise, which we are capable of offering to the inventor of the Printing Machine, comprising in the preceding description, which we have feebly sketched, of the powers and utility of his invention. It must suffice to say father, that he is a Saxon by birth; that his name is KŒNIG; and that the invention has been executed under the direction of his friend and countryman BAUER

Four days later, another editorial seemed rather more defensive and made it clear that the print workers were less than happy about some of their number losing their jobs to the new machine:

We are at length able to meet the complaints of our customers with a confidence in our capacity to remove the cause of them,—to meet their increasing demands with an assurance that we shall be able to fulfil them. The Machine of which we announced the discovery and our adoption a few days ago, has been whirling on its course ever since, with improving order, regularity, and even speed. The length of the debates on Thursday, the day when Parliament was adjourned, will have been observed: on such an occasion, the operation of composing and printing the last page must commence among all the journals at the same moment; and starting from that moment, we, with our infinitely superior circulation, were enabled to throw off our whole impression many hours before the other respectable rival prints. The accuracy and clearness of the impression will likewise excite attention. Till Parliament, therefore, shall be again assembled, there will exist no reason why the public in any part of the metropolis should wait for the The Times Journal longer than eight o'clock.

We should make no reflections upon those by whom this wonderful discovery has been opposed,—the doubters and unbelievers,―however uncharitable they may have been to us, were it not that the efforts of genius are always impeded by drivellers of this description; and that we owe it to such men as Mr. KŒNIG and his Friend, and all future promulgators of beneficial inventions, to warn them that they will have to contend with every thing that selfishness and conceited ignorance can devise or say; and if we cannot clear their way before them, we would at least give them notice to prepare a panoply against its dirt and filth.

There is another class of men from whom we receive dark and anonymous threats of vengeance, if we persevere in the use of this machine. These are the Pressmen. They well know, or at least should well know, that such menace is thrown away upon us. There is nothing that we will not do to assist and serve those whom we have discharged. They themselves see the greater rapidity and precision with which the paper is printed. What right have they to make us print it slower and worse for their supposed benefit? A little reflection, indeed, would shew them, that it is neither in their power nor in our’s to stop a discovery now made, if it is beneficial to mankind; or to force it down, if it is useless. They had better, therefore, acquiesce in a result which they cannot alter; more especially as there will still be employment enough for the old race of pressmen, before the new method obtains general use, and no new ones may be brought up to the business: but we caution them seriously against involving themselves and their families in ruin, by becoming amenable to the laws of their country. It has always been matter of great satisfaction to us to reflect, that we encountered and crushed one conspiracy: we should be sorry to find our work half done.

It is proper to undeceive the world in one particular; that is, as to the number of hands discharged. We, in fact, employ only eight fewer workmen than formerly; whereas more than three times that number have been engaged for a year and an half in building the machine.

The Leeds Intelligencer of 12th December 1814 quoted a recent edition the Stamford Mercury which revealed that the machine had cost The Times "upwards of £8,000", but that the newspaper had saved £25 per week for each 'pressman' it had replaced.

The König & Bauer company that the two inventors formed 3 years later still exists, & today their machines print most of the world's banknotes.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

19th November 1814: Joanna Southcott leaves directions as to what should happen if she dies

Saturday Evening, Nov 19, 1814.—Joanna sent for Dr. Reece, and gave him directions what he is to do; in case she should die, she wishes him to examine (open) her body, to ascertain the cause of her feelings for these last nine months. On the other hand, she puts her life into the hands of Mr. Wetherell to deliver her; if he wish for any assistance, it is her will, no one should be permitted to try a pain but Dr. Reece; and in case she should appear as dead for three or four days, that no force should be used to extricate the child, but to leave her according to the directions given by the Spirit to be kept as warm as possible till there is a visible change take place either in life, or that actual death has taken place to the full satisfaction of her friends.


The above was signed by Joanna Southcott in the presence of, and witnessed by Dr. Richard Reece, and four of her friends.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

11th November 1814: The Hosier William Woodcock reports to the Home Office about spies & informers amongst Framework-knitters & Luddites

Mansfield 11th November 1814.


Several months elapsed after your Communication of the eighteenth of February last before I could engage a fit Person to ascertain the facts pointed out in your Letter. I discovered that there was only one Society at mansfield and at length procured a Copy of their Rules which had no essential variance from the printed Rules of the Nottingham Societies before obtained by me I found also that the Society had ten pounds deposited in the mansfield Bank in the names of two of their numbers and that their Secretary had in his hands about six pounds more the six pounds has since been sent to two of the Societies at Nottingham and the mansfield numbers have divided the six Pounds amongst themselves at this time they were gradually putting [off] from the Society which has now altogether ceased to meet. The weekly Collection of money from the Journeyman (whether members or not of the Societies) is also discontinued.

In the year 1811 and man who had been guilty of many acts of framebreaking confessed those to me in order to procure his protection. I took his Confession before a magistrate and have ever since been in correspondence with him – finding that Nottingham and its immediate neighbourhood was likely to be the Scene of Depredation I recommended him to get better acquainted with the Framebreakers there which he did – but as he informed me that the Call made by these men on their Companions to the Commission of any mischief was frequently very sudden allowing no time to give me notice I made him known to Mr Coldham of Nottingham and am glad to find that he gave Mr Coldham notice of the late atrocity at New Basford when he was of the Party. I have seen this man a few days since – he says some of the Nottingham Framebreakers have proposed destroying Frames at Mansfield

I shall have notice of their Attempts and further Situation of the objectionable Frames I trust there will be little Chance of the Depredators escaping.

I am
Your most obedient humble Servant
Wm Woodcock

[To] J. Beckett Esq.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

5th November 1814: Joanna Southcott writes to the press to decry a hoax letter


The following letter appeared in the Observer of Sunday last, and made a considerable impression on the believers of Joanna's mission. It is however clear from the subsequent letters of Mrs. Southcott, which we also subjoin, that the letter purporting to be signed J. Towzer, is a complete forgery.

"Having been requested by Joanna to acknowledge her former wicked errors,—I have therefore, on the part of Joanna, respectfully and with sincere contrition to state, that for some considerable time past she has been in a state of delirium, but at length having become, as it were, herself again, being now calm and collected, and fearing that she is approaching to her latter end, hereby renounces all the wicked incantations of her former distempered brain; and she hopes that a generous public will forget the impositions and errors that she has of late endeavoured to impose upon their understanding. And she further hopes, that all good christians will not only forgive, but will fervently join in her prayers to the Almighty, for a forgiveness of her late blasphemous doctrines, and past sins.


To the Editor of the Morning Chronicle.

SIR,―As a point of common honesty I desire that you will insert this from me as a reparation for the injury intended against my character, by the infamous forgery which you suffered to be copied from The Observer into your paper of this day, signed "J. Towzer." the purport of which was, that I had authorized it to be drawn up, to acknowledge my having imposed upon the public, and that I now renounced the whole of my visitation. In all what I have done and published to the world my conscience accuses me of nothing to renounce, and therefore leaving my cause to God, who hath directed me in the course I have hitherto pursued, I shall persevere in that course, to the confusion of my enemies, who falsely accuse me of imposture and incantations, whereby they themselves become imposters and deceivers, to mislead the unwary.

As you, Mr Editor, were so ready to exult in the insertion of the article above mentioned, supposing, no doubt, that it was genuine, I rely upon your candour, with the same readiness to announce to the public how you were imposed upon by that vile forgery.


From the Leeds Mercury of Saturday 5th November 1814