The hectograph, an obsolete means of text and illustrative reproduction, was not much used after the 1940s, although it has seen a resurgence in some art circles, and hecto pencils are widely used by tattoo artists. Hectography involves making a bed of gelatin, transferring a special carbon ink to the gelatin and then laying on and picking up pieces of paper.
Both hekto and hecto seem to be in use as spellings.
“Hecto” means 100 in Latin – a bit of an over assessment of the number of copies that can generally be made with the process. As a general rule, upwards of 50 copies might be made in this fashion, of which perhaps 15 or 25 were at least borderline legible. In a few individual cases, this is hyperbole; Terry and Mari Carr used hecto on one of their FAPAzines when the copy count for FAPA was 68 and managed to get clear copies throughout by using yellow second sheets instead of the usual slick white ditto paper, while Erik Biever once produced a hecto’d MINNEAPA zine that was a masterpiece of clarity and readability without resorting to that legerdemain. Mae Strelkov, Stony Brook Barnes and Eric Mayer were latter-day fans who developed the knack as well. Mae was known for her hecto paintings.
Contributors: Dr. Gafia, others.
When Jophan saw the horrible purple stains that spread from underneath to clog the victims" mouths and nostrils he realised that they had blundered into the dreaded Hekto Swamp, and that there was no help for them. With a last pitying look he bore to the right onto ground which had at first seemed uninviting because of its slightly stony appearance, but which bore up underfoot, unlike the seductive smoothness of the Hekto Swamp.
|from Fancyclopedia 2 ca. 1959|
|A means, more or less, of reproduction. The basic hekto is a pan of rather firm gelatin; a master copy prepared with special hekto carbons or hekto ink is placed on this, and much of the pigment on the latter is deposited on the former. Sheets for copy are placed face down on this, smoothed out, and then removed; on each one some of the ink comes off — enough, you hope, to make a legible copy. As the Greek root 'ekatos suggests 100 copies may be obtained in theory; but experience warns that after about 70, "copies" begin to resemble paper with an unusually large water-mark. Legible limit is about 50 (the original FAPA membership limit was determined thusly), best color for long runs being the well-known purple [methyl violet]. All the colors of ditto can be used by hekto, plus some delicate shades available in hekto pencil form which don't hold up for the spirit process. Besides the primitive pan hekto, various film (gelatin on stiff paper) devices and mechanical gadgets for applying the paper smoothly to the jelly are available, but hardly worth it; they don't increase the length of the run.|