The Arab is a ‘clamshell platen’ press used in letterpress printing. It works by
bringing together the ‘forme’ of type (top) and the platen holding the paper (bottom) to make a print. A press operator uses a foot pedal to power the mechanism and removes and adds paper to the platen by hand.
Press reports of 1872 show that J Wade (the Patentee) had named the machine ‘The Arab’ as the view at the time was that the Arab race was hard-working and reliable, just like his invention.
The Arab press shown in the film is being used by a Michael Booth, a former printer and a volunteer at the Bradford Industrial Museum. It was a busy day at the press preparing bookmarks to promote the upcoming Victorian Christmas Fair at the Museum.
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Watch The Arab press in action.
Filmed at Bradford Industrial Museum.