Napier, David

SUBJECT AREA: Paper and printing
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b. 1785 Scotland
d. 1873
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Scottish engineer who devised printing machinery incorporating important improvements.
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Born in Scotland, Napier moved to London to set up an engineering workshop in St Giles. In 1824 he was commissioned by Thomas Curson Hansard (1776–1833), who from 1803 began printing the debates in the Houses of Parliament, to make a perfecting press, i.e. one that printed on both sides of the paper. Known as the NayPeer, it was the first to incorporate grippers in order to improve register (the correct positioning of the paper on the inked type); the grippers took hold of a sheet of paper as it was fed on to the impression cylinder. Napier made several machines for Hansard, hand-powered at first but steam-powered from 1832. Napier did not patent the Nay-Peer, but in 1828 he took out a patent for a four-feeder press with a single impression cylinder, which had the then-usual "stop and start" action while the bed carrying the inked type passed to and fro beneath it. To speed output, two years later Napier patented a press with two cylinders revolving in the same direction in place of the single-stop cylinder. Also in 1830, the firm of Napier and Son introduced an improved form of bed and platen press, which became the most popular of its kind; one remained in use at Oxford University Press into the twentieth century. Another invention of Napier's, in 1825, was an automatic inking device, with which turning the rounce or mechanism for moving the type bed under the platen activated inking rollers working on the type. Napier is credited with being the first to introduce the printing machine to Ireland, for the Dublin Evening Post. His cylinder machine was the first of its kind in North America, where it was seen by Hoe and others.
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Further Reading
J.Moran, 1973, PrintingPresses, London: Faber \& Faber (contains details of Napier's printing machines).
LRD

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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