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Synonyms: mimeograph
See also: Zine Production, Stencil
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a Gestetner 300 mimeograph machine, see gallery below for more images

Gestetner was a printing company that produced stencil and mimeograph machines. These machines played a significant role in fueling the small press printing movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Many of the early fan fiction fanzines were produced using the machines and at least one fanzine publisher named their press after the machine (the Australian based Gestetner Press). Gestetner stopped manufacturing this type of "mimeograph" duplicator some time in the early to mid 1980s and went fully into photocopiers. They continued, however, selling parts and supplies for their mimeographs until fairly recently. For more information regarding the history of mimeograph machines, go here. You can also watch a video of the machine in operation here.

Initially the Gestetner brand was used mainly in Europe, because: it was an "English brand of mimeograph that for many years was unavailable in the U.S. because they were so much better than American brands. Where U.S. models had cotton ink pads, Gestetners utilized a silk screen; where American mimeos relied on internal brushes and centrifugal force (or, on cheaper machines, outside applications with a brush) to spread ink around, the Gestetner used far superior waver rollers. The Gestetner also had a sophisticated method of adjustment that allowed for better registration (establishing where the print area will hit on the page), which made it vastly superior for two- and three-color mimeograph work." Dr Gafia's Fan Terms.

Examples of usage

In Fandom

"...Lil and I (who wrote those stories) owned a Gestetner printer on which we produced zines (as Green Dragon Press (UK) - GDP), mostly Blake's Seven and a critical thing called Critical Mass." from Changing the Rules/Security Risk.

""I went out and bought a second-hand reconditioned Gestetner mimeograph and a big, heavy office Ambassador manual typewriter with which to cut the wax stencils. Not having anywhere else to put it, I housed the Gestetner on the dining room table. The joys of wax stencils - trying proof read them, trying to correct them (and heaven help you if you jumped a line). The stinky pink correcting fluid; the stencil glue that smelled like rotten apples, both of which could give you quite a buzz ("No, officer, I've just been printing a fanzine..."), the duplicator ink that dried on the rollers on very hot days part-way through a run and tended to run out on a public holiday, anyway, the thermocopier which never reproduced art properly.." from Multiverse.

""One of the reasons the print quality was so poor was that in those days nobody but nobody in Britain had a PC, we were still using typewriters. To print something of that length back then, when one Xerox copy was around 8 cents a copy, was just too expensive so we resorted to Gestetner machines. But even then you had to know someone who had one and were able to sweet-talk them into lending it to you. Well, my sister and I managed to acquire a second-hand machine and duely spent hours, weeks, months cutting all the skins on a typewriter. However, when we came to do the printing, we didn't know that the previous owner of the Gestetner machine had allowed it to suck pages into and around its ink drum. They were so saturated in ink we didn't spot them under the silk and just thought it was the best the machine could do. Those sheets, which may have been on the machine's drum for years, drank the ink and we spent a small fortune in ink to get any kind of image on the paper." from Decorated for Death.

"This year, 2000 will mark the 35th Anniversary of Doctor Who fanzines. Generations have gotten high on gestetner fumes, dirty with photocopy toner, lost thumbs from exacto-knifing artwork and developed carpal tunnel syndrome from desktop publishing." from Doctor Who Fandom: An A to Z, July 20, 2000.

In The World

"It has to be remembered that the gestetner printer was, for many years, the only way of producing your fan magazine. Basically you typed cutting into the stencil sheet which eventually went onto the roller of the hand cranked copier. Any typoes had to be corrected using such stuff as nail polish! My own school magazine from 1972 was produced by using the gestetner..." Golden Age of the British Small Press, October 7, 2008

"By the mid-1970s another Gestetner art movement had gained momentum in the Bay Area. A critical mass of neighborhood arts organizations and community-based artists were prolifically producing murals, posters, theater and other cultural forms. Once again, the lowly Gestetner came to the rescue in helping spread—and in some cases, be—the word.....The greatest challenge was creating a design and printing 500 copies of it in a day in context of other such work. The Gestetner process allowed us to create artwork with pencil and marking pens directly on letter or legal-size paper, affixing strips of type, gluing paper with typewriter text to layout, placing on scanning drum and etching stencils. The challenge was to produce clean copy so as to not to spend an inordinate time masking out areas on stencil etched by shadows from pasted paper, dust, etc."Cranking It Out, Old-School Style: Art of the Gestetner, October 19, 2010

Image Gallery