Historical information

This Gestetner Cyclostyle duplicating machine was invented and manufactured by David Gestetner. He claimed in 1922, once he had released several models, that if a Gestetner Durotype stencil was used together with his Cyclostyle machine, then 10,000 copies could be made from the one Durotype stencil, an amazing claim for office technology of that era.

David Gestetner (1854-1939), was born in Csoma, Hungary. He has been called the “founder of the worldwide office copying and duplicator industry.). He moved to London and in 1879 filed his first copying patent. In 1881 he patented the Cyclostyle stylus (or pen), which was used in conjunction with his Cyclograph device for copying text and images, He established the Gestetner Cyclograph Company in England at this time (1881) to protect his inventions and to produce his products; stencils, stylos (stylus or pen) and ink rollers. HIs inventions included nail-clipper and the ball-point pen (although the latter is more commonly associated with Laszlo Biro).

Gestetner’s patented Cyclograph duplicator was used with his Cyclostyle Stylus or pen to write or draw on special thin wax-coated stencil paper (originally used for kite making paper) in the following way;
1. The Cyclostyle stencil was placed on a lower, framed metal plate of the Cyclograph
2. An upper frame was clipped over the top
3. The Cyclostyle pen, with its tip being a small metal-spiked or toothed wheel, was used to write or draw on the stencil, punched small holes into the paper and removed the wax coating in those places
4. The upper frame and stencil was then removed and a piece of blank paper was placed onto the metal plate in the lower frame and the upper frame with stencil was replaced
5. A roller was given an even distribution of Cyclostyle ink and rolled by hand over the stencil in the frame. This forced the ink through the holes in the stencil to and made a copy of the stencil on the paper
6. The upper frame was raised, the printed paper removed and another blank sheet was put into place. The whole process was repeated until enough copies were made.

Gestetner’s invention developed further in 1894, with a stencil that could be placed on a screen on a revolving drum. The drum was manually rotated, the stencil then wrapped around another drum and was fed between cloth-covered rollers on which ink was evenly spread. Each revolution of the drum forced ink through the holes in the stencil and transferred the ink onto paper that had been fed between rollers and pressed against the drum. The process was repeated for each page. The paper was still fed and removed manually in this earlier invention but became more automatic in later models. In 1902 Gestetner duplicator model 6 was put onto the market. This model included the improvement of an automatic paper feed that synchronised with the rotation of the stencil.

The Gestetner machine was the first office printing machine. It was easily installed and it made exact copies of the sane document quickly, effectively and inexpensively. This changed the way offices operated, making information easily available to many more users. The machines were commonly used in small businesses, schools, churches, clubs and other organisations for the wide distribution of a wide variety of information in the form of worksheets, newsletters and more.

In 1906 the Gestetner Works were opened in Tottenham Hale, North London, and thousands of people were employed there up until the 1970’s. Due to the fast growing success of the Gestetner Duplicator machines many international branches for sales and service centres were established. David Gestetner was succeeded by his son Sigmund, followed by his grandson’s David and Jonathan.

Further advancement was made by using a manual typewriter with specifically designed stencils. The end product was a printed, typewritten copy similar to the print from newspapers and booklets. In the next few years there were further developments of this revolutionary invention.

The Gestetner Cyclostyle duplicator in our Collection is dated c.1922 - 1929 and it uses Gestetner Durotype stencils The 1922 British Industries Fair’s catalogue contained advertising for the Gestetner Rotary Cyclostyle “The World’s Premier Duplicator”, demonstrated at Stand K 86.” A Notice at the foot of the advertisement’s page boasts "Important - D Gestetner's latest invention, the "Durotype" Stencil, enables you to obtain 10,000 copies from one original if desired. It contains no wax of any description, is indestructible, can be stored indefinitely and printed from as required”

In 1929 the look of the Gestetner machines changed; American designer Raymond Loewy was invited by Gestetner to improve the look of his duplicators, resulting in a very streamlined appearance. Eventually, around 1960’s, offices replaced their Gestetner with small photocopying machines and printers.

Gestetner took over ownership of other office machine companies over time, including Nashua, Rex Rotary, Hanimex and Savin and eventually all came under the holding company name of NRG (Nashuatech, Rex Rotary and Gestetner). In 1996 Ricoh acquired the Gestetner Company, and it was renamed the NRG Group.

Cyclostyle, Stencil Duplicating Machines, antique Copying Machines, Early Office Museum, http://www.officemuseum.com/copy_machines.htm
Duplicating machines, Wikipedia
Duplicator, Collection online, Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation http://techno-science.ca/en/collection-research/collection-item.php?id=1989.0229.001
Gestetner duplicators, Totterham-Summerhillroad.com http://tottenham-summerhillroad.com/gestetner_duplicators_tottenham.htm
Gestetner Duplicator, V&A Museum http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O322014/gestetner-duplicator-duplicator-loewy-raymond-fernand/
Gestetner, Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History, http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Gestetner


Duplicating machines such as this one revolutionalised access to copies of printed material, changing the way that educational bodies, offices, small businesses and community clubs and charities operated.

Physical description

Duplicating machine, Gestetner Cyclostyle Durotype, a stencil-method duplicating machine with two rotating drums plus rollers. Hand operated, tabletop office machine. Front has folding Bakelite handle, oil filling hole, calibrating gauge with scale, and copy counting meter. Right side has printed manufacturer’s plate that slides out as a paper output tray. Left side has metal plate with protrusions and perforations, plus another similar plate that is detached. It also has a metal frame attached [that would have been used to hold a paper input board, adjusted for various sizes of paper]. Cover, metal, with folding wooden handle on top, attaches to base with metal clips. Inscriptions printed on machine, mostly in gold-coloured paint. Round metal manufacturing plate is stamped with Serial Number 95759. Made by D. Gestetner, London, c.1922-1929

Inscriptions & markings

Copy counting meter shows “1 4 6 4 8 [space]“ copies.
Calibrating gauge has divisions with numbers “0 1 2“, labelled “← [left arrow] “TO PRINT LOWER” and “→ [right arrow], TO PRINT HIGHER”.
“The Gestetner”, “Cyclostyle”, “Gestetner” (Trade Mark),

Right side print of manufacturing details includes
“The / Gestetner / TRADE MARK”
and “D. Gestetner”