Banburyshire Family History

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Exhibits in the Museum of a Working Career


First Exhibits in the Museum of a working career: Metal box containing a pair of brass compass; a pair of brass dividers (never used); two erasers (hard and soft); two pencils (hard and soft); a 5-pfennig coin; and a pencil sharpener. The compass incorporates a sleeve in which a pencil is clamped with a small screw (sadly missing). Optional extras include a plastic protractor and a plastic six-inch rule.

Final exhibit: Leather bound case, in which each item of stainless steel drawing instrument rests in its own individual felt-lined compartment. Optional extras include a set of French curves, never used in anger, but a work of art in themselves. Pencil sharpeners were verboten. Real draughtsmen used a sharpened length of hacksaw blade, handle bound with string and dipped in protective wax.

The first working area was a wooden desktop and a large T-piece; the latter tastefully engraved, for some forgotten reason, with the name 'Kay'. The final drawing board was large enough to seat eight persons for dinner, could be rotated at any angle with a flick of a joystick, and incorporated its own lighting system.

The first working drawing accepted was issued to the waiting world as a blueprint, from 'Morag's Pit', a wooden shack separate from the main factory building. Entry was gained after knocking the door and waiting for entry. Inside, Morag stood on a stepladder in stygian gloom overlooking a table on which ultraviolet light was shone through the drawing being copied, to specially coated paper underneath. A chemical bath followed, <Sigh - no, not Morag>, and a blueprint produced after drying. The whole shack was wreathed in ammonia fumes. No one lingered chatting to Morag.

A personal dislike was using the stencil sets to print alphanumeric characters with special pens. These incorporated a small reservoir of Indian ink, in which was mounted a vertical-floating rod, of a diameter to match the size of stencil aperture. If the pen was not held perfectly vertical -- disaster. Ink was added to the reservoir with a small rubber pipette. Usual result - disaster.

Concentration on correct character spacing could easily result in a letter being completely omitted; but there was no lack of interested observers to point this out (usually much later). Pens and stencils required regular washing to avoid blockages. Inky fingerprints everywhere. A nightmare.

Today the designer sits in a small cubicle at a computer terminal and output exists only in a virtual universe. He must be very lonely.

Written by Smokey