Remember This: mimeographs and Ditto machines

Dorri Partain
Northeast News

Making copies? Whether you need 2 or 200, the process has not always been as easy as pushing a button.

Prior to automated photocopiers, introduced by the Xerox Corporation in 1959, various methods were employed to produce inexpensive copies.

Because both machines produced copies by manually cranking the drum, the mimeograph and Ditto machine were often confused, but each used a different process.

Invented in 1884, the mimeograph required that a stencil be produced prior to making copies, either by using a typewriter (ribbon removed) or hand-drawn using a stylus.

The stencil was attached to the drum and black ink was pressed through the stencil onto paper as the drum rotated.

The Ditto machine, named for the manufacturer Ditto Corporation of Illinois, used a process called “spirit duplication.”

Wilheim Ritzerfeld invented the machine in 1923, and over the years, the copies it produced came to be known as “dittoes” due to the machine company’s label.

Spirit duplication involved creating a master copy, which had two sheets, one which was coated with a wax pigment.

The pigment was transferred from one page to the other by typing or drawing, creating the master.

Attached to the drum, the master pressed onto the paper, along with spirit, a 50/50 mixture of isopropanol and methanol.

The spirit gave the fresh copies a distinctive smell, and the copy often had purple ink, though other colors (red, blue, green and black) were also available.

In 1964, mimeograph manufacturer Heyer, Inc. revived the hectograph printing process, first introduced in 1860.

Like the Ditto machine, the hectograph required a master to produce copies, which was transferred to a gelatin base which absorbed the ink.

Paper was pressed onto the gelatin base one sheet at a time, and required a drying time once removed.

Sold as a complete kit for home use, the Hekto-Printer was available in letter and legal sizes.

Want Northeast News articles sent straight to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
Enter your email address and click on the Get Instant Access button.
We respect your privacy

Comments are closed.

  • REMEMBER THIS? Dick and Jane

    January 15th, 2020
    by

    Dorri Partain Northeast News Look, look, Dick can read. Look, look, Jane can read. Dick and Jane can read a […]


    Thacher Elementary now rubble & memories

    January 15th, 2020
    by

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News Luin Kennedy Thacher was born in Hornellsville, New York, and immigrated to the Kansas City area […]


    Remember This? The Smiley Face

    January 8th, 2020
    by

    Dorri Partain Northeast News A campaign to boost morale among insurance agency employees lead to the creation of the Smiley […]


    After political strife, KCK mayor creates fine architecture

    January 8th, 2020
    by

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News The cornerstone of the Masonic Temple at 803 N. Seventh Street in Kansas City, Kansas, was […]


    Remember This? Wooden sleds with runners

    December 31st, 2019
    by

    Dorri Partain Northeast News The kids will be dashing through the snow (next time the white stuff hits town) if […]


  • Upscale Baltimore Hotel hosted presidents

    December 31st, 2019
    by

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News   Eccentric. That’s how many described noted turn-of-the-century Kansas City architect Louis S. Curtiss. A student […]


    Holy Rosary crib tradition a holiday classic

    December 25th, 2019
    by

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News This real photo postcard of the Holy Rosary Church’s Christmas crib was taken during the 1941 […]


    Remember This? Squeeze Your Bippy Board Game

    December 25th, 2019
    by

    Dorri Partain Northeast News You can bet your sweet bippy that Laugh-In fans wanted Santa to leave this game under […]


    Remember this? View Master

    December 18th, 2019
    by

    Dorri Partain Northeast News A chance encounter inside a cave led to the development of this long-time favorite toy. Harold […]


    An Awful Sour Tale

    December 18th, 2019
    by

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News This week’s historic postcard shows the Monarch Vinegar Works “immense plant” in Kansas City, Missouri. The […]


  • Faces Of Northeast


  • Postcard


  • Remember This?

    Remember This: Wind Up Toys

    December 11th, 2019
    by

  • retorts illustrated by bryan stalder


  • Want articles sent directly to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
    We respect your privacy and will not distribute your information.