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  New York Times proof page: "Shuttle Explodes"

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Author Topic:   New York Times proof page: "Shuttle Explodes"
garyd2831
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Posts: 522
From: Syracuse, New York, USA
Registered: Oct 2009

posted 12-30-2012 01:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for garyd2831   Click Here to Email garyd2831     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I recently took a gamble and purchased this from eBay. The seller stated that it was a vintage Jan. 29, 1986 New York Times printing proof sheet.

It is printed onto what appears to be a sheet of aluminum cut from a role (the ends are not even cuts) and measures approximately 22 1/2 by 13 5/8 inches.

Does anyone know if this is how the New York Times or any standard newspaper company would produce a "proof" page prior to being mass printed? I thought it was a neat item and seeing how I do have the New York Times from the Challenger disaster, this would be a good match.

I wish it was from the first lunar landing to be on a more happier note, but it is space related. Any thoughts?

dom
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Posts: 561
From:
Registered: Aug 2001

posted 12-30-2012 02:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dom   Click Here to Email dom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It might be part of the printing process for that day's newspaper but not so sure it was actually used to print the page, as it would be a reversed image wouldn't it?

p51
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Posts: 1167
From: Olympia, WA, USA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 12-30-2012 03:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I worked in a newspaper's composing room for 4 years just after this timeframe.

Proofs were usually full-sized photocopies on paper, they didn't use metal to make them, as there would often be errors that the page editors would make corrections on with a pen and run back to the composing to correct, or most often would be used for the first edition pages they intended to change on a following edition.

Although this was done by the plate room and on the same material plates were made in, this was NOT an actual printing plates they used to print the paper with. The real plates do read right, they're not backwards. But the real printing plates are curled inward on each end (and usually notched in the upper and lower edge centers, if memory serves) to put onto the printing machines. They're also a little messy after they get used, depending on how well they got cleaned afterward.

The plate room guys at the newspaper I worked at were asked to make these from time to time for 'keepsakes' for other people who worked there. For example, they made several of these the day the air war started in Desert Storm. They made one for me for a page I did a large drawing for, but I've long since lost it. They should be roughly the size of a printed paper. As easy as they were to make, you'd think more of these would have been made. All they needed to do was take the full-size-page negative sheet from the paste-up page put together (by hand, back in those days) in the composing room, and just expose the 'plate' sheet to it, like you would making prints on photo paper from a negative.

I don't know this specific paper, but I'd expect a normal paper's front page to have some color in it and the explosion photo does not look to me like the b/w part of a 4-color photo. So if they ran color at all, this would certainly be a copy made as a souvenir.

The plate room folks at a newspaper could make dozens of these. That said, they probably wouldn't have made many (or any) beyond the timeframe of the news event, so it was almost certainly made around the time of this incident.

Hope that helps!

garyd2831
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Posts: 522
From: Syracuse, New York, USA
Registered: Oct 2009

posted 12-30-2012 03:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for garyd2831   Click Here to Email garyd2831     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I know it was not a printing plate because, yes it would re read in reverse and you would need a mirror in order to read it.

I just wasn't sure if these were printed out first before the printing plates were used on the paper itself.

I'm thinking about having it framed along with the actual New York Times paper I have from that day.

garyd2831
Member

Posts: 522
From: Syracuse, New York, USA
Registered: Oct 2009

posted 12-30-2012 03:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for garyd2831   Click Here to Email garyd2831     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by p51:
I don't know this specific paper, but I'd expect a normal paper's front page to have some color in it and the explosion photo does not look to me like the b/w part of a 4-color photo. So if they ran color at all, this would certainly be a copy made as a souvenir.
I do have the actual New York Times paper from the accident and it is just black and white. The New York Times wasn't using color from what I remember back then.

p51
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Posts: 1167
From: Olympia, WA, USA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 12-30-2012 07:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by garyd2831:
I know it was not a printing plate because, yes it would re read in reverse and you would need a mirror in order to read it.
No, that's a common misconception. I saw the plates all the time as they came out of the plate room and they DO read right. They are NOT backwards at all. Most people think they are, though, and I can understand where the confusion comes from.

The only reason I know this isn't the printing plate is that it doesn't have the bends on the top and bottom with the slots (the plate room people punch these) to place on the press. Otherwise, it's exactly like the plate they would have used to print the newspaper with.

garyd2831
Member

Posts: 522
From: Syracuse, New York, USA
Registered: Oct 2009

posted 12-30-2012 07:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for garyd2831   Click Here to Email garyd2831     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sorry, my misunderstanding. It still is an interesting item and a great way to preserve history.

It will be going to the framer soon along with the original paper for a mat and frame.

ea757grrl
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Posts: 619
From: South Carolina
Registered: Jul 2006

posted 12-30-2012 08:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ea757grrl   Click Here to Email ea757grrl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by garyd2831:
The New York Times wasn't using color from what I remember back then.
If I recall correctly, the New York Times didn't begin using color until the 1997-98 timeframe. It was a break with longstanding tradition, and thus a really big deal at the time.

garyd2831
Member

Posts: 522
From: Syracuse, New York, USA
Registered: Oct 2009

posted 12-31-2012 04:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for garyd2831   Click Here to Email garyd2831     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, I took the "plate" to my framer today which is at the Syracuse Blueprint Company along with my original NY Times edition from Jan 1986. I was explaining how it might have been some type of "proof" plate but wasn't really sure. My framer told me to wait a minute, ran into another room and brought out a gentleman for meet.

This gentleman told me that this appeared to be an unused "printing" plate because it did have the center line "tick" marks, but was never mounted onto a roller.

I asked if he could explain the process and he told me to follow him. In the next room was entire printing press that included metal sheets similar to the one I had, and even showed me how he made the different negatives for it. He then took me to the machine in which the printing took place, demonstrated the water and ink process and how the finished product came out.

So, he believes it is an actual printing plate for the Jan 29, 1986 New York Times edition that was never used. Now, I'm having it framed along with the front page of the NY Times based on that plate same plate. It will cover both the historical aspect of the space program, plus a process in how the paper was produced.

The rest of the paper that discusses the disaster will be laminated so that the reader can also see and read the rest of the story, and will be stored on the backside of the frame.

I told the frame shop I will bring a happier newspaper, Man on the Moon next time.

p51
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Posts: 1167
From: Olympia, WA, USA
Registered: Sep 2011

posted 12-31-2012 04:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That's good someone showed you how it works, but I really wonder if it was a used plate from the print run without the edges folded inward on the top and bottom. All the offset machines I've seen (and I saw several from various papers in the parent company I worked for at the time) required the edges to be bent inward on the top and bottom so they could stay on the giant roller they got placed on.

As for the 'ticks' (actually registration marks), last night I recalled that the plates actually came that way when they came out of the box. I hadn't thought about this in many years as I left the newspaper in 1993 (wow, that was 20 years ago next month, how odd), so that detail had eluded me, sorry.

Plates were made all the time like this as souvenirs at the paper I worked at, a paper of this size would have had God-knows-how-many of these made for an event of this magnitude. The actual printing plate probably doesn't exist today as we always recycled ours. The run plates don't look all that good when you're done with them. I bet yours is pristine, right? If I had to bet, I bet a LOT that the plate room crew made this for someone the night the story broke.

In my mind, that wouldn't diminish the value at all. It was almost certainly made on the day of the explosion, in that newspaper's plate room. Few of these are around today, I'd also bet.

garyd2831
Member

Posts: 522
From: Syracuse, New York, USA
Registered: Oct 2009

posted 12-31-2012 05:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for garyd2831   Click Here to Email garyd2831     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I asked the printer today what did they do with the plates and he pointed to a stack of them in the corner and said they would go to scrap for recycling. Yes the plates he showed me had bent edges and some had holes punched in them. That is why he believes my was an unused plate.

I'm sure being that these headlines were for the following days paper that several hundred of them had to be produced for a paper that was nationwide. I'm sure some when home as a keepsake and the rest were scrapped.

I obtained mine from a seller who acquired it along with a few others from an estate sale somewhere in Florida.

While it was a sad day, I thought of it a great piece of history both of the tragedy and of process that will soon be forgotten with the internet being a huge source for the news. Maybe when I pass someday, someone will find this in my collection and reflect on the sacrifices that some people had to make.

All times are CT (US)

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