In 1881, David Gestetner invented the first stencil copier. It was the earliest form of mechanically duplicating a printed image. It was based on the principle of punching small holes through a thin woven paper so ink could pass through to form an image.
A later version contained a small rotating stylus which Gestetner called a 'cyclostyle'. The needle drew onto delicate wax paper without breaking the surface. A hinged printing frame was then inked by hand for each copy that was required.
Factory in Tottenham
As Gestetner's invention became a success, his business grew. A factory was established in Tottenham which employed 6000 people. The factory remained open until the 1970s when it relocated to Wellingborough in Northamptonshire. Gestetner is now a hugely successful international corporation, supplying office equipment and services throughout the world.
Museum number L149