Coin Keys

Yes, I know how to spell it: QUOIN. Actually, I had to look it up. But I knew that I didn’t know, right? Points for that.

Anyway, I’m thinking coin because that’s what we’re going to get from eBay, if history is any judge. See, when we started the printshop, we had a press, ink, paper, a form or two, a chase, some quoins and a key … to some quoin or other. It certainly wasn’t for ours. Drat, or other four-letter words to that effect.

(For those unfamiliar with the terminology here, a quoin is a little gadget for locking the form to be printed into place in the chase — a metal frame that fits on the press — so it won’t fall onto the floor. You turn the key to tighten or loosen it.)

quoin-key-web.jpgMary did some research and we hopped onto eBay to see if we could find either a key to match the quoins or quoins to match the key. It’s surprising how many variations there are on this simple tool. OK, maybe not so surprising when you think of how many different types of toilet brush there are. But the prices were undoubtedly a shock. Add in a type-high gauge — we got outbid in several auctions before finally snagging one for $25 — and we were a little put off.

But we took our medicine and got what we needed.

A month or so later, we were scavenging an old printshop. (Yes, we were invited.) We’d been told to take whatever we could use. The rest was going to be tossed. My job was to clear a bank of tray cases that hadn’t been touched in years. What a mess! I sneezed and wheezed my way through two cases of mostly nothing … old Sears and Red Cross logos, Notary Public emblems, bent die-cut forms, half lines of cast lead, dust, grime, mold and rust. I was pretty cranky as the third case beckoned. I yanked out the first tray … and the weight of all the quoins and keys sent it crashing to the floor. The second tray yielded the same thing, minus the crash. And a third … and a fourth. The fifth one even had a type-high gauge. “Um, Mary, you might want to see this.”

The truck was sagging in the back as we pulled out of that place.

Which is a long way of saying … “Anybody want to buy a quoin key?”

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