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ISO: London Times Production, 1858

Via the Contact form:

As a consequence of a research project focused on events of June 1858 upon which I am currently working, it has come to my attention that purchasers of issues of The London Times in the 1850s had to cut pages in order to read them. My questions are (1) can any of your members suggest how I might find out what kind off press The Times employed in June 1858; and (2) exactly how the resulting newspapers were folded such as to require cutting? I have written The Times directly, but have been told they have no records of the sort needed to answer my questions. Anything at all that you might have to say would be greatly appreciated.

Tom Jones, Emeritus Professor of European Cultural History, Humboldt State University


  1. Really interesting question. I’m sure I don’t have the answer at my finger tips, but I will be inclined to look into it. In the meantime, I was wondering whether you have come across the Dictionary of Nineteenth Century Journalism ( )? I haven’t seen it myself, but their goals seem to be comprehensive. I gather a published volume came out in 2009.

  2. My quick follow up research shows me that the moment you are looking at comes just at the time that the Times switched, from an English-made Applegath press to an American model by R. Hoe & Co.(installed in 1857), their famous “ten-feeder” press. Both these presses were “type-revolving” machines, preceding true “rotary” presses, which followed soon after. I’m assuming from your inquiry that the Times was eight pages (or some multiple) at the time, meaning it was likely that it was printed, like a quarto book, four pages at a time. Do you have page dimensions?
    I am drawing on three sources: Moran’s Printing Presses (1973); Comparato’s Chronicles of Genius & Folly (1979); and, The Times Book of Printing (1930)

  3. I believe that at the time, The Times was printed in quarto on sheet-fed Hoe type-revolvers. Flat sheets were delivered to the newsagents, who folded but did not trim them. This seems to have been the practice on both sides of the Atlantic. For references, perhaps Pasko, Hoe, Isaacs, Comporato, et al.

  4. Thanks for your interest and for your sources. Your information nicely confirms what I had learned before writing The Times.My previous information came largely from Richard Coe’s ‘Short History of the Printing Press’ (1902), in which he says that after a ‘Six-Cylinder’ Coe press was purchased by Edward Lloyd for his Weekly Newspaper in 1857, “orders were received from the London ‘Times’ for two ‘Ten-Cylinder’ presses, to replace the Applegath machine they were then using.” But he offers no date of installation. The Coe cylinders rotated horizontally, while the Applegath’s was vertical. I’m wondering how many presses The Times had, and if a number, then whether the Applegath’s were all replaced at once, or gradually phased out. And I need specific dates. I have photocopies of eight issues of The Times from June 18 through 25, 1858. All have 16 pages. I do not know their dimensions.

  5. Thanks, Doug Charles, for your thoughts about the folding and cutting of The Times. While the quarter-folding squares with my limited understanding of the times, I find it difficult to imagine that there was not a procedure for the professional folding of the papers either right in the press room itself, or somewhere between it and the delivery portals. It’s hard to picture the early morning arrival of hundreds of huge sheets of flat newsprint at the doorstep of every London newspaper vender. Even more difficult for me to imagine, is the shipping of such unwieldy material by rail to reach news agents in Cambridge, Southhampton, York, or Liverpool—or overseas. And then there were the hundreds and hundreds of papers that were dispatched by mail every morning of every day of the week. Surely they were folded at The Times before transport to the GPO, were they not?
    I’m sorry to have to say that I am a complete novice in this area of newspaper history and am wholly unfamiliar with your references. Can you kindly clarify “Pasco, Hoe, Isaacs, Comporato, et al.”?

  6. I find that James Moran’s, Printing Presses (1973) states that The Times ordered two Hoe ten-feeders to replace its Applegath vertical revolving eight-feeder, adding, “The machines were installed in August 1858, and Applegath’s verticals were broken up” (p.189).

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