This key is used to lock large quoins into place when setting up type in a forme.
Setting type by hand is known as 'composing the type'.
The type is taken letter by letter and placed into a 'setting stick' -- a wood or metal tray held in one hand and the words are built into lines of type of a set width.
The lines are then put together to make a page inside a metal frame called a "chase". Spaces in amongst the page are filled with wooden or metal "furniture". The furniture is level with the surfaces of the type blocks so as not to pick up any ink. The spaces between the chase walls and the page are filled with expandable "quoins". Quoins, when tightened, lock all the type and furniture securely within the chase (now called a "forme").
The forme is placed on the press and printing commenced.
The key is made of metal and is T shaped.
This item was donated by the Dimboola & District Historical Society to enable Peter Marsh, Research Associate, to set up type for the Fawkner Press display in the Melbourne exhibition. The type has been set up to reproduce the first page and other sections of the first printed edition of the Melbourne Advertiser. The first page is as the original but the second page is not complete. Peter Marsh has included his own acknowledgment in the second page so that there can be no mistake as to its provenance. Fawkner used foundry type; monotype was not available until the 1840s. Foundry type is cast differently from monotype. Only the newspaper title of the 'replica' is in foundry type.
The item was originally used in the printing of the Dimboola Banner newspaper. The contents of the newspaper office were donated in situ to the Dimboola Historical Society in 2004 and became part of the collection of the Dimboola Banner Printing Museum, which is owned by the Society (the building was purchased for the Society). The item was then donated to the Museum by the Dimboola & District Historical Society.
The newspaper office closed when the Dimboola Banner was sold and production shifted to another town with more modern equipment. The paper ceased to be printed with letterpress in the mid 1980s.
It is not possible to date the item or to determine their provenance as equipment came from various sources, for example from other local newspapers that closed down. The 'material' could be dated anywhere from 1879, which is when the first issue of the newspaper came out. It can be described as an example of 19th century technology.
Donation from Mr Dale Conway - Dimboola Historical Society, 01 Jul 2007
Type of item
7.5 cm (Length), 11.5 cm (Width), 2.5 cm (Height)
[Link 1] accessed 9 October 2008 Melbourne Advertiser first printed edition (#10)