Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Mimeograph Machines

I have powerful and fond memories of the smell of the blue ink on the mimeographed copies that were used in my K12 schools.

 I haven't yet located a mimeograph that would have been in use in the 60s and 70s (my school days) but I was recently given this much more valuable and older mimeograph machine.

HELLO - If your school or church has an old mimeograph machine around, particularly if it's working order, please contact me (via SpellingCity.com) since it would really help round our collection.

The mimeograph machine that I have is from just after the turn of the century.  It is labelled:

Edison's Rotary Mimeograph
 No. 76. 
Made by A. B. Dick Company, Chicago Illinois

There are a list of patents going back to 1897.

The machines that were used in the 1960s into the 80 were by the Standard Rocket company.

Here for instance is a manual version of the machines that I remember in the schools

 It is a 1961 Standard Rocket mimeograph machine with a few dozen Copy-rite Spirit Master Units  and two standard wicks (I'm not entirely sure what they are).  The machine is hand cranked and appears to be in working order.

About the smell. Yes, the smell of the freshly printed mimeographs is of course the most important thing.  Does anyone know what gave them that fantastic smell and how I could reproduce it?

 This blog highlights vintage educational technology which have been collected in the VocabularySpellingCity office such as My Victrola,  school desksGolden BooksDictionaries and Encyclopedias,  and film strips .

Take a peek at the cutting edge technology of yesteryear.


BBat50 said...

Just found a great video of an AB Dick Mimeograph machine.

BBat50 said...

If anyone has a mimeograph machine from the 60s or 70s that they would part with, please contact me!!! (Just comment on this blog or email mayor which is @spellingcity.com )

Heidi Moos said...

Wonderful! I'm adding this blog to my favorites.

Unknown said...

I have a mimeograph machine that looks identical to this one...I am curious on its value.

Anonymous said...


We just came across a AB Dick 420 mimeograph in our church basement. I can't find much on the net about it or what to do with it. any ideas?


Aandwsmom said...

I used to help my Mom run copies for her classroom using the Mimeograph! Love the smell and getting to crank it. It was magic at age 4!

Anonymous said...

I have 2 . . Rme114@Juno.com

xtiml said...

I have aquired one of these in original boxes ,which are not in good condition, but the ink boxes are in good condition unopened evrything is there it works has original brushes even nice handles on them like tortoishell or soemthing of that nature.has some paper from that time patent numbers etc 1902 dick edison model 30whats it value and can i use it to print warnings to the world with,I dont know haw to use it and didnt see instructions after ciursory exam.

Anonymous said...

The mimeograph did not use "heavenly smelling blue ink." It used sticky tar-like ink, usually black.

The machine you're referring to was a spirit duplicator, which used methyl alcohol as a solvent to dissolve copies from a "master unit" onto duplicator paper.

The copy material was purple (not blue). The "heavenly smell" was the methyl alcohol.

Johne said...

Any ideas how to get my hands on some of the methyl alcohol?

Unknown said...

My first teaching job was in 2001 at a parochial school in Lawrence, MA, and we had a Standard Rocket in the teachers lounge! I often used to hand write a math quiz during the lunch period to give my eighth graders a little surprise! The formula was changed for the fluid as it was a carcinogen. I believe Kurtz Brothers, in Clearfield, PA, stocks the "safe" fluid in addition to master units. Unfortunately, you won't be able to duplicate the smell of a fresh pop quiz!

Unknown said...

I have the Edison rotary 1917 # 77 the one made right after yours..😊I'd like to sale it, what should I ask resaburke@gmail.com