gordon jobber.jpg

The Gordon Jobber

George Phineas Gordon created the Franklin Press, also known as the Gordon Jobber, beginning in 1852, and releasing models all the way through the 1880’s. Gordon, who was a spiritualist, claimed that Benjamin Franklin had come to him with the design in a dream. Historians believe he probably actually adapted his design from a couple of inventors – one of them being his old mentor Stephen Ruggles. The Gordon Press had a bed mounted on two legs that moved back and forth in a straight line. The legs hinged near the bottom, and a platen attached to a large shaft which rotated between the pamphleteer feeding paper and the impression section. The platen could rotate about 90 degrees, via a crank. (Gordon, 1961) Gordon invented the reciprocating bed and later, a double ink disc. But he used ideas from his predecessors, too, including Ruggles and a Boston based press maker named Daniel Treadwell. Among the presses available, the Gordon was one of the most popular because the crank action made the press run more smoothly, by putting pressure on the center of the platen press, thereby ensuring even and simultaneous imprinting. In 1872, Gordon opened his own manufacturing company and introduced the “Gordon new style.” This was partially in response to his own awareness that his patent was expiring and other manufacturers would begin to copy his design of what then became known as the “old style.”
The Gordon Jobber produced approximately 200 impressions per run. A full run would be much smaller than a commercial printer, and thus the audience would be smaller. Using a Gordon Jobber to produce a political pamphlet therefore was only secondarily about political issues of the day, and was primarily about finding like minded individuals in one’s own community.
Jacobi, Charles Thomas. The Printers' Vocabulary: A Collection of Some 2500 Technical Terms, Phrases, Abbreviations, and Other Expressions Mostly Relating to Letterpress Printing, Many of which Have Been in Use Since the Time of Caxton. Gale Research Company, 1888.

Stewart, A. A. The Printer's Dictionary of Technical Terms: a Handbook of Definitions And Information About Processes of Printing; With a Brief Glossary of Terms Used In Book Binding. School of Printing, North End Union, 1912.

Elligett, Bill. "The Platen Jobber." Accessed December 13, 2015. http://letterpressprinting.com.au/page88.htm.

"The Gordon Jobber." Digital image. Letter Press Printing. Accessed December 09, 2015. http://letterpressprinting.com.au/img290.jpg.
Digital image. Gordon, George P. "Printing-press." U.S. Patent 32,130, issued April 23, 1861.