Framework

Capturing the world through photography, video and multimedia

The Los Angeles Times printing presses in 1937, as seen from the mezzanine level. The four eight-unit Hoe presses are new. The older presses are in a room partially visible to the left.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Dick Whittington / The Huntington Library

1912: Linotype machines in the Los Angeles Times Composing Room located on fourth floor of new building dedicated on Dec. 4, 1912.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times

1912: Los Angeles Times Composing Room located on fourth floor of new building dedicated on Dec. 4, 1912.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Los Angeles Times.

A Los Angeles Times reporter and photographer receive an assignment in 1941. The identities of the editor, reporter and photographer are unknown.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Dick Whittington / The Huntington Library

A Los Angeles Times artist at work in 1941. The cartoon shows Uncle Sam holding a newspaper that has "Free Press" on it in a large font. This is presumably Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Bruce Russell, whose signature is at the bottom of the cartoon.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Dick Whittington / The Huntington Library

An article about the president of the Philippines is printed out by an United Press Assn. teletype machine at the Los Angeles Times in 1941. Everything in the background has been whited out.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Dick Whittington / The Huntington Library

Los Angeles Times newspaper operations in 1941 in a photo from the Dick Whittington Studios collection at the Huntington Library. A man points to a component of an Associated Press wirephoto receiver at the Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Dick Whittington / The Huntington Library

A man uses a Western Electric telephoto transmitting machine at the Los Angeles Times in 1941. A photograph of a ship being launched from a dry dock is being run through the machine.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Dick Whittington / The Huntington Library

Editors in the Los Angeles Times newsroom take information over phones from reporters and correspondents in 1941.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Dick Whittington / The Huntington Library

A Los Angeles Times editor makes corrections on proofs in 1941. The first of the three proofs has marks for corrections, while the other two are still unmarked. The "Duke Selection Big Surprise" story was published in the Dec. 2, 1941, Los Angeles Times.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Dick Whittington / The Huntington Library

Five editors sit at desks at the Los Angeles Times newsroom in 1941.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Dick Whittington / The Huntington Library

Pneumatic tube delivery system at the Los Angeles Times was used to move copy, photos, proofs and artwork to various departments in 1941.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Dick Whittington / The Huntington Library

Typesetting at the Los Angeles Times in 1937. A man, center left, uses a machine to make individual letters that were to be stored in individual desks around the room. Each desk held a different font or type style. Other men in room are picking individual letters, probably for headlines or advertisements.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Dick Whittington / The Huntington Library

The composing room at the Los Angeles Times in 1937, where pages of type, photo engravings and other material were assembled. Each finished paged, called a "cold chase" was used to start the plate making process.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Dick Whittington / The Huntington Library

In the Los Angeles Times composing room in 1941, headlines are added to columns of type produced by a Linotype machine during assembly of a "cold chase."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Dick Whittington / The Huntington Library

A lead ingot, called a pig, hanging on chain is melted in a machine for making special type in 1937.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Dick Whittington / The Huntington Library

A final Los Angeles Times page, called a "cold chase," is locked in place in the composing room in 1941. The page is on a rolling carrier called a "turtle."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Dick Whittington / The Huntington Library

A Los Angeles Times employee peels back a "matrix plate" made from a "cold chase" plate by the compression machine on the right in 1941. The matrix was used to make the plates for the printing presses.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Dick Whittington / The Huntington Library

In the plate-making room, each matrix mat is used to make matching multiple lead plates.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Dick Whittington / The Huntington Library

An employee at the Los Angeles Times loads 3,000-pound rolls of newsprint in the "reel room" located under the press room in 1941. The beginning of each 64-inch wide roll of newsprint was hand threaded into the presses above.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Dick Whittington / The Huntington Library

In the press room, two Los Angeles Times employees thread the newsprint into the two-level presses in 1941.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Dick Whittington / The Huntington Library

A Los Angeles Times pressman counts newspapers coming off presses to be bundled by a wire bundling machine on left, in 1941.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Dick Whittington Studios / The Huntington Library

The Los Angeles Times "morgue," where published copies of articles and photos were archived, in 1941. The employee closest to the camera is a woman who has pulled out a drawer and is looking at photographs.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Dick Whittington / The Huntington Library

A special printing room at the Los Angeles Times in 1937. The press in the foreground was used to make promotional cards for news racks and window displays. The press in back left corner was used to print Sunday color comics.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Dick Whittington / The Huntington Library

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Producing The Times in the days of hot lead [updated]

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Producing The Times in the days of hot lead [updated]

In 1937 and 1941, Dick Whittington Studio photographers were hired to document the production of the Los Angeles Times. More than 20 of these images are in this photo gallery.

Additional caption information was provided by Rick Terry, operations senior planning coordinator for the Los Angeles Times Olympic Printing Plant.

The Dick Whittington Studio archive is divided between USC’s  “Dick” Whittington Photography Collection, 1924-1987 and The Huntington Library: Whittington Studio Collection of Negatives and Photographs.

The photos from 1941 were taken on 5- by 7-inch negatives. The 1937 images were shot on 8- by 10-inch negatives.

The use of hot lead was phased out in 1974.

With the 1990 opening of the Los Angeles Times Olympic Plant in downtown L.A., the presses were removed from Times-Mirror square.

[Updated on July 10, 2014 with two photos from 1912 Los Angeles Times composing room.]

scott.harrison@latimes.com

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Thumbnail view of all From the Archive posts.

4 Comments

  1. May 16, 2014, 6:45 pm

    What a load of misinformation._Most of the stuff on hot metal is just plain wrong.__Merzing– Ye Olde Typesetter

    By: merzing
  2. May 17, 2014, 6:51 pm

    Check out that UPI teletype machine, with the paper-tape coming out of it and the paper-tape reader, on the left. That's what was used, before magnetic or optical media came into wide use.

    By: Steven Moshlak
  3. May 17, 2014, 7:03 pm

    What's really scary is that I know about this process and was around for the transition and transformation to word processors and desktop publishing. In my mind, can still smell the ink and paper that was used, when the papers were printed. I am surprised I did not see any "California Cases" which held type of various typefaces and fonts. Maybe the LAT can do a follow-up story on the creation and printing of advertising for grocery and department store ads?

    By: Steven Moshlak
  4. July 23, 2014, 4:11 pm

    This is a Elrod Machine that makes strips of lead for spacing out columes type

    By: Jack Watje

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