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An A4-size Gestetner offset-printing machine Offset gestetner A4.jpg
An A4-size Gestetner offset-printing machine

The Gestetner is a type of duplicating machine named after its inventor, David Gestetner (1854 1939). During the 20th century, the term Gestetner has been used as a verb—as in Gestetnering [1] . The Gestetner company established its base in London, filing its first patent in 1879. The business grew, remaining within the control of the Gestetner family, and acquiring other businesses. In 1995, the Gestetner company was acquired by the Ricoh Corporation of Japan.



David Gestetner was born in Hungary in 1854, and after working in Vienna and New York, he moved to London, England, filing his first copying patent there in 1879. [2] A later patent in 1881 was for the Cyclostyle, a stylus that was part of the Cyclograph copying device. [2] That same year, he also established the Gestetner Cyclograph Company to produce duplicating machines, stencils, styli, ink rollers and related products. The Gestetner works opened in 1906 at Tottenham Hale, north London, and employed several thousand people until the 1990s, operating in 153 different countries. [3] Gestetner's inventions became an overnight success, and an international chain of branch offices that sold and serviced Gestetner products was established.

The Gestetner Company expanded quickly during the early and mid-20th century. Management was passed to David Gestetner's son, Sigmund Gestetner, and from him to his sons, David and Jonathan. Gestetner acquired other companies during the years: Nashua (later changed to Nashuatec), Rex Rotary, Hanimex and Savin.

In 1995 the international Gestetner Company was acquired by the Ricoh company of Japan. The company was renamed NRG Group PLC, and markets and services Ricoh products under its three main brand names, primarily in Europe, South Africa and the Middle East, but also through dealers throughout the world. The brand has been owned by Ricoh since 1995. In Europe, Gestetner Group became NRG Group, which on 1 April 2007 became Ricoh Europe. On that date Ricoh merged its Gestetner dealer network with the Lanier dealer network that had been selling Lanier-branded products on behalf of Ricoh for the North American market. Ricoh indicated that the merger's rationale was based on the fact that both "Gestetner and Lanier brands have been marketing identical products for many years". Thus, Gestetner's American customers can simply substitute Lanier-branded products for previous Gestetner-branded products even though Lanier-branded products are the same as Ricoh and Savin. [4] [ jargon ]

The Gestetner Cyclograph

The Gestetner Cyclograph was a stencil-method duplicator that used a thin sheet of paper coated with wax (originally kite paper was used), which was written upon with a special stylus that left a broken line through the stencil, removing the paper's wax coating. Ink was forced through the stencil (originally by an ink roller), and it left its impression on a white sheet of paper.

Until this time, any "short copy runs" which were needed for the conduct of a businesse.g., for the production of 10–50 copies of contracts, agreements, or lettershad to be copied by hand. (If more were needed, the document would have to go to the printers.) After the run had been copied, business partners had to read each one to ensure that they were all exactly the same, and that human error had not resulted in any aberrant copies. The process was time-consuming and frustrating. The stencil-copy method meant that only one copy had to be read, as all copies were mechanically identical. Gestetner had therefore revolutionised the office copying process.

Gestetner developed his invention, with the stencil eventually being placed on a screen wrapped around a pair of revolving drums, onto which ink was placed. The drums were revolved and ink, spread evenly across the surface of the screen by a pair of cloth-covered rollers, was forced through the cuts made in the stencil and transferred onto a sheet of paper which was fed through the duplicator and pressed by pressure rollers against the lower drum. Each complete rotation of the screen fed and printed one sheet.

Model 66 was perhaps the most famous Gestetner machine, designed by Raymond Loewy; examples are currently housed in the British Museum and Churchill's War Bunker in Whitehall.

After the first typewriter was invented, a stencil was created which could be typed on, thus creating copies similar to printed newspapers and books, instead of handwritten material.

See also

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Mimeograph Type of duplicating machine

The stencil duplicator or mimeograph machine is a low-cost duplicating machine that works by forcing ink through a stencil onto paper. The mimeograph process should not be confused with the spirit duplicator process.

Screen printing printing technique

Screen printing is a printing technique where a mesh is used to transfer ink onto a substrate, except in areas made impermeable to the ink by a blocking stencil. A blade or squeegee is moved across the screen to fill the open mesh apertures with ink, and a reverse stroke then causes the screen to touch the substrate momentarily along a line of contact. This causes the ink to wet the substrate and be pulled out of the mesh apertures as the screen springs back after the blade has passed. One color is printed at a time, so several screens can be used to produce a multicoloured image or design.

Duplicating machines were the predecessors of modern document-reproduction technology. They have now been replaced by digital duplicators, scanners, laser printers and photocopiers, but for many years they were the primary means of reproducing documents for limited-run distribution. The duplicator was pioneered by Thomas Edison and David Gestetner, with Gestetner dominating the market up until the late 1990s.

Stencil Thin sheet of material, with letters or a design cut from it, used to produce the letters or design on an underlying surface

Stencilling produces an image or pattern by applying pigment to a surface over an intermediate object with designed gaps in it which create the pattern or image by only allowing the pigment to reach some parts of the surface. The stencil is both the resulting image or pattern and the intermediate object; the context in which stencil is used makes clear which meaning is intended. In practice, the (object) stencil is usually a thin sheet of material, such as paper, plastic, wood or metal, with letters or a design cut from it, used to produce the letters or design on an underlying surface by applying pigment through the cut-out holes in the material.

Spirit duplicator low-cost printing technology common in the 20th century

A spirit duplicator is a printing method invented in 1923 by Wilhelm Ritzerfeld that was commonly used for much of the rest of the 20th century. The term "spirit duplicator" refers to the alcohols that were a major component of the solvents used as "inks" in these machines. The device coexisted alongside the mimeograph.

Ricoh Japanese imaging and electronics company

The Ricoh Company, Ltd. is a Japanese multinational imaging and electronics company. It was founded by the now-defunct commercial division of the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (Riken) known as the Riken Concern, on 6 February 1936 as Riken Sensitized Paper. Ricoh's headquarters are located in Ricoh Building in Chūō, Tokyo.

Offset printing Printing technique

Offset printing is a commonly used printing technique in which the inked image is transferred from a plate to a rubber blanket, then to the printing surface. When used in combination with the lithographic process, which is based on the repulsion of oil and water, the offset technique employs a flat (planographic) image carrier. Ink rollers transfer ink to the image areas of the image carrier, while a water roller applies a water-based film to the non-image areas.

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David Gestetner Austrian inventor

David Gestetner was the inventor of the Gestetner stencil duplicator, the first piece of office equipment that allowed production of numerous copies of documents quickly and inexpensively. He was awarded the John Scott Medal of The Franklin Institute in 1888.

Cyclostyle (copier)

The Cyclostyle duplicating process is a form of stencil copying. A stencil is cut on wax or glazed paper by using a pen-like object with a small rowel on its tip. A large number of small short lines are cut out in the glazed paper, removing the glaze with the spur-wheel, then ink is applied. It was invented in the later 19th century by David Gestetner, who named it "cyclostyle" after a drawing tool he used. Its name incorporates "stylus", classical Latin word for a pen.

Risograph Brand of digital duplicators

Risograph is a brand of digital duplicators manufactured by the Riso Kagaku Corporation, that are designed mainly for high-volume photocopying and printing. It was released in Japan in August 1986. It is sometimes called a digital duplicator or printer-duplicator, as newer models can be used as a network printer as well as a stand-alone duplicator. When printing or copying many duplicates of the same content, it is typically far less expensive per page than a conventional photocopier, laser printer, or inkjet printer.

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  1. Palaeologu, Athena. The Sixties in Canada: A Turbulent and Creative Decade. p. 118. ISBN   978-1-55164-331-1.
  2. 1 2 Elgot, Jessica (March 17, 2011). "The real star of the Office gets a blue plaque". The Jewish Chronicle . Retrieved July 17, 2018.
  3. T. F. T. Baker, R. B. Pugh (editors), A. P. Baggs, Diane K. Bolton, Eileen P. Scarff, G. C. Tyack, A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 5: Hendon, Kingsbury, Great Stanmore, Little Stanmore, Edmonton Enfield, Monken Hadley, South Mimms, Tottenham , pp. 333–339. Victoria County History, British History, 1976. Date accessed: 16 October 2010.
  4. "Notice for Gestetner Customers," April 2, 2007. Gestetner USA website. (Retrieved April 28, 2009.)