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The Edmondson Ticketing System

Started by Dave Hughes, January 19, 2024, 10:26:00 AM

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Dave Hughes

The story of the Edmondson ticketing system, which was introduced in the 1840s and is still in use on heritage railways, etc. to this day.

QuoteWe don't often speak or even think about tickets but have you ever thought of why the tickets are why they are? well, its down to a very brilliant stationmaster. Thomas Edmondson's ticketing system inspired the modern-day tickets of today but how did the system work? and why was it needed?

Here's some great film of one of these old machines working, courtesy of Atelier Typo de la Cite based in Lausanne, Switzerland.

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Interesting that the four tickets illustrated were printed here in Melbourne, Australia by The Milldean Press.

Of the four tickets illustrated, the top left and bottom right tickets were numbered on an original Edmondson press, whilst the other two were printed on a 1959 built Waterlow 'Ultra' press.

Milldean also has a number of Melbourne built 'Bell & Valentine' machines in working order. Their numbers are similar to the Waterlow Intaglio numbers but are more rectangular and set closer together. All three types of presses also have positive number wheels available if required.

Dave Hughes

Geoffrey D Dean has been following this topic and came up with the following question:

QuoteI do have a question that I doubt any person can answer.

When the Edmondson Ticket was converted to metric the true conversion makes it 57.2 x 31 mm.

In Australia: NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia converted to 57 x 30.5 mm.

Queensland converted to 57 x 30 mm. Not sure about WA.

Why did any railway alter their slitting machines?

The Waterlow machines (UK) and the Bell & Valentine machines (Victoria) did not change, nor did any Edmondson machines.

This explains why sometimes the ticket gets printed crooked with the 1/2 mm 'slop' in the machines.

I find this very curious.

I doubt that anybody would have an answer.
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Dave Hughes

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Hi I'm very interested in the printing of replica Edmondson tickets as l supply and print them for a few preservation railways in the UK.

I make the tickets by sandwiching greyboard between coloured copier paper and printing and numbering them on my Adana TP48. Not the fastest way, but being retired the challenge is to produce a replica of the original ticket.

I was amazed at the different coloured tickets that were issued over the last 150 years, although l do stick to the original imperial measurements.

Regards Norman

Nicolas Regamey

Hello everyone, I'm fortunate to have three Edmondson ticket printing machines made by Goebel Maschinenfabrik from Darmstadt. I'll introduce the machines in another post. Regarding the paper measurements, in Germany and Switzerland, the tickets measure 57 x 30.5 mm.

As for the ticket cardboard, since the closure of the Wensing company in the Netherlands, I've been making my own cardboard. I buy large sheets of white paper weighing between 540 and 560 grams and print sheets with different colors or patterns. Then I cut them to the correct size to be able to print them with the ticket machines. It takes a lot of time, but the result is of good quality. It also allows me to create many different color schemes according to the needs of various railway companies or museums that request them.

On the good old days, there were two machines for automatically cutting the tickets. It was very fast. Unfortunately, I've only ever seen them in photos.

I'm available if you have any questions or requests regarding Edmondson tickets. It's really one of my specialties in my workshop.

Geoffrey Dean

I have been printing Edmondson Tickets since the mid 1960s. At first I printed them on a 3 x 5" card. Printing colours first on one end of the card, then swinging it around to repeat on the other end. Print the text the same way.

Numbering was using a normal printer's serif numbering box. Print the first number, then reverse the card and print the other number. Finally cut to size.

What size? I assumed the 57 x 30.5 mm was the metric conversion as the Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales tickets were this size. Later I found out that Queensland and Western Australia used 57 x 30 mm. However the direct conversion is actually 57 x 31 mm.

Why were slitting machines changed. The ticket printing machines were not. They are designed for 31 mm. A question that I think nobody can answer.

Currently I have three operating printing machines. A 1959 Waterlow Ultra and two 1947 Bell & Valentine machines. I have just purchased a tonne of 'Edmondson card'. Not impressed, it is not made with the traditional method.

Now that I have heard that Wensing has closed, I'm not sure if anyone can supply proper Edmondson Card. I have a primary and a secondary slitting machines which means the card is very accurately cut.

Julius Stafford-Baker

In the 70s and 80 I produced a good many Edmondsons for various heritage railways in the UK,  but due to their rising quantity requirements I no longer do.

I had studied the original BR and previous company typographic styles and had obtained a number of founts of matching small type.

I still have all this stuff but no longer use it.  2 point Gill Sans titling anyone? I never charged anything but derived a good deal of pleasure in matching styles dead right.

My material was 650gsm White pulp board  with over all colours printed as required as a pre-print working.

Numbering was with conventional plunger boxes (still in stock)  with the plunger arranged to fall just off the trimmed edge. 8 at view was the usual thing, set four times and shift. And very careful cutting.

Some very unusual kinds were replicated. At the request of the Ticket Collectors Society I added the year very small somewhere, and became known as 'the year printer.'   

Dave Hughes

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