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Blog from 2008-2009 | Blog Index
Please note: Unlike Future Blog Pages, this pages has the newest entries on the top and works its way back to July, 2008.
News of our friends:
Our friend Sarah Smith (star of our favorite letterpress video) now has her own 8x12 C&P and her own web site - please visit http://www.smithletterpress.com/ - and her Etsy site - to see what she's up to now!
Christmas Card, 2009:
One of the best things about teaching an old craft to a young person is to see how much they enjoy using their new skill.
Saturday, November 13, 2009
- Allison Willian and her husband Todd came all the way up from Kentucky to pick up their restored Craftsmen Pilot Press and to learn how to set type and print with it. Allison struggled a bit with the odd California Job Case layout, but she did manage to get a handle on it and set a few lines of type, justify it perfectly, then lock it up with an old antique Christmas-themed cut, and print herself a few Christmas Cards which she later scored for folding on the old 1870's treadle-driven hand-fed Gordon press. At home, she'll score her cards on her Pilot.
Her two days at the shop went by far too fast and we didn't even get to do quite a few of the things I had planned, but she certainly got a time-compressed, in-depth introduction to letterpress typesetting and printing,
Alison insists she'll be back for advanced instruction in composition and press work, and we look forward to her return!
Aubrey and Nick came by to visit today as well - from New York City. Aubrey has been "letterpressing" on the west coast and has recently come east to establish a new studio in New York. Today, she saw a complete, fully authentic, old-time letterpress print shop and enjoyed seeing her name being cast on a Hot Metal Ludlow slug. In college, she had participated in a hand-set type setting project using the newly-cut Gutenberg font done recently by Theo Rehak of Dale Guild Type Foundry. She was surprised to find that I knew the history of the font of type she had set.
Aubrey posted a nice piece on her blog about her visit here...
We Also received our first shipment of new furniture, type cases and planing blocks from Ed Thompson of Thompson Cabinet Company in Luddington, Michigan - Hamilton's only serious competition in the manufacture of type cases, cabinets and tools used by letterpress printers since early in the last century. Most of what we use these days is quite old - but this is "New Old Stock" made by Thompson many years ago, but not readily available for retail purchase for years - until now. We will be adding these new Thompson items to our Fund-raising page shortly.
We are also preparing an inventory of Kelsey press parts made by Lou in Rhode Island. He's been casting and machining new parts for a while for his restoration work, but soon we hope he will begin to inventory new parts on the shelf - as will we here. We have developed prototypes and will soon be manufacturing and stocking replacement Kelsey press roller hooks, gripper bars and rollers. Watch the Fundraising and Kelsey Parts pages for updates.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
- A Visit from Pete Wilson of The Kelsey Company. From 1972-1979, Pete worked at Kelsey, making presses, casting type and organizing the production process.
It began as a summer job during college, but expanded a bit for a few years "to help out the family" until he went on to his present career. Pete is the great-nephew of Mr. Glover Snow - an important contributor to the success of the Kelsey Company. Pete explained some of the manufacturing process mysteries which have developed since we began restoring Kelsey presses and helping others to use them. He also showed us how to date our Kelsey presses. Some Excelsiors have the date of manufacture stamped in the upper center of the bed. For example, we identified some of our presses as being made in 1939, 1952, 1957, 1959 and two from 1966. The older presses do not have the date stamped on the bed.
Here's Pete with some of our Kelsey presses on display in their own section of the shop.
All in all, it was a pleasant but too brief visit. Nonetheless, now he knows that The Excelsior Press - both the press itself and the museum-like print shop that bears its name, are alive and well and active into the 21st Century. And Pete will be taking his report back to Gene Mosher - manager of the Kelsey Company for many years. Wouldn't William Kelsey be pleased!...
Friday, October 23. 2009 - Two things today:
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
This time, we went to visit a shop - the production facility of the Garfield, NJ Messenger - which, until July of this year, was set in Linotype and printed letterpress on their 1950's-era ATF Kelly Model Three - which, by the way is in need of a good home...
See our rescue page about this priceless equipement - a 25x37" flatbed cylinder press, a folder and a working Linotype machine - very much in need of rescue by someone who can preserve and hopefully use them. This equipment was used to publish a weekly newspaper for the past fifity years... Likely the last letterpress newspaper in New Jersey, and one of the few left in the country.
SAVE THIS PRESS and LINOTYPE!! VIDEOs of these machines running
Linotype, Press, folder - free to a good home...
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Hotmetal Man Dave Seat and his wife Beth stopped by to pick up 200 pounds of good linotype lead muffins for a customer in NYC.
Dave recently helped me free up a frozen plunger on my Ludlow - by telling me to fill the plunger with ice!
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Letterpress printer and collector Rob Lilley came by this afteroon with his wife and their friend who also has an interest in letterpress printing and enjoyed seeing such a complete working letterpress "studio".
We had a good time comparing notes on the challenges of making new parts to restore old presses to their former operating condition.
Sunday, September 7, 2009
My old Vietnam war buddy, Neil Brown came out from Ohio this weekend to take away the '56 Chevy Panel truck that has been a fixture in this print shop for the past 23 years. I'm too busy printing - and fixing and restoring printing presses to make the time to restore this old beauty, and Neil was looking for a neat old Chevy truck to restore, so he's taken this one back to his barn in Ohio for a complete make over. When he's done, we're planning a road trip - like we did together after returning from Vietnam so many years ago...
And now, we have room in the barn for a new press restoration and paper storage area - and we need it!
Friday, September 4, 2009
Another new press added to our collection.
- an old (circa 1900) Chandler & Price Galley Proof Press. ===========>
That came from a new jersey print shop that opened in 1935...
It was already old then!
This is the classic Galley Proof press that was used in newspapers throughout the country until Mr. Vandercook made an improved proofing press about 1900.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Lou's new 5x8 restoration has been sold - BUT. He is beginning another.
AND, he is working on restoring a 6 1/2 x 10" Chandler & Price Pilot which will be available later in the month for $2550 - photos will be posted on Lou's restorations page
Monday, August 31, 2009 - SOLD
See: example restorations to see what this press looks like -- > SOLD 9/3
$1250 plus crating and shipping. Don't let this one get away! Call 908 627-2730 to purchase.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Andy came back along with his cousin Nara to print some really neat - and unique invitations to a friend's bridal shower.
The big challenge was mixing just the right shade of pink to match the envelopes... But, with Nara's experience mixing oil paints, we did manage to get a perfect match and color was just right. - The final touch was an ornamental border done in overprint varnish - with just a hint of white. Sorry, it' so subtle, it was hard to photograph.... But it sure looks nice!
Tuesday, August 10, 2009
We were finally able to upload the best shop video yet - Sarah and Jenet "kicking the treadle" on the old Gordon Jobber - accompanied by Rich (Frontroom Press) on the guitar.
Sarah had printed a wedding suite on the Vandercook and needed to score the table tents, so the Gordon was just the press for the job. It's a great video, and the music really adds to the effect. - check it out!
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Ed Walter is back to do more printing - this time he moves from his Kelsey Platen Press to the Vandercook flatbed... - and sees the difference a cylinder can make.
- and Andy comes to visit - and learn about letterpress. He is soon put to work pulling prints under Ed's supervision. (Ed is a big city Art Director, dontcha know.... ;)
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Amanda & Jeff drove up from Philadelphia to bring their (pretty well beat) 3x5 Excelsior and 6x4 Adana No.2 Tabletops to us for restoration.
The Adana ink table (cast of an old style composite known as 'pot metal') was actually bent!
Watch what we do with these beauties while Amanda's off the coast of Brazil navigating an oil tanker... (yeah - really.!)
See photos and an update on the restoration of Amanda's Adana
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Rachel came back for a visit. We had helped her get started with her little 5x8 Kelsey back in October, and her folks came by December to do their "Christmas Shopping" for Rachael. And now it was time to come back and visit with some questions - and play a bit as well ... I showed her how to cut a frisket to mask out the background on a difficult old engraving, and how to score her cards for folding on the 5x8 - and then it was time to play on the Vandercook. She'd found an engraving she liked - a shooting star - and assembled it along with a few lines of poetry to make a unique little gift for a friend.
Friday, July 24, 2009
We just finished our annual run of posters for the Frenchtown Town Picnic, sponsored by the Police Department and Lions Club. We print these using hand and wood type and some old engravings on the 1946 Vandercook Model 4T and donate them to the Picnic each year.
While their purpose is to promote the Picnic, some folks in town consider our letterpress printed posters to be "collectible prints", so we always print a few more for them to post on their walls or store away for the future...
Those type cases sure make great drying racks for posters, eh?
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Duff and Steve arrived with the newest addition to our collection - Peter Lewis's 9x13 Kelsey Exceslior - and boy, is this a BIG press! photos and story to come...
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Ed Walter came out with his engraving and we set up his recently restored Father's Day Gift - a classic 5x8 Kelsey Excelsior...
His first project was a series of prints from an engraving he had made by Owosso Graphic Arts.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
A British Film Crew doing a Discovery Channel Documentary came to the U.S. to shoot some scenes for their production. They were looking for an authentic, working circa 1900 press that could be used to represent the printing of a newspaper headline of the era. Our Vandercook Model 17 proof press was just the machine they needed for their scene. They arrived Saturday morning, we set the headline in authentic 1900 style wood type and pulled some proofs for the camear and they had their headline scene. Glad to be of service. ref Fulcrum TV
Video can be seen on Youtube - jump to 37 seconds in to see the press printing the "headline"
Saturday, August 10, 2013 - I finally found an online reference - and in fact the actual video clip filmed at the Excelsior Press four years ago. It begins at 37 seconds into the promo clip and shows the headline "JACK the RIPPER IN AMERICA" being printed on the Vandercook Model 17. I printed in black. I believe they added the red text post-production. Click the link above to view it.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Al Duran's Print Shop. - Al Duran (1/23/1922 - 4/25/1999) operated a print shop in the basement of his home in Clinton, CT for the last 25 years of his life. He worked for many years for Shoreline Times Publishing Company (until they closed down) and then began his own business. His widow has moved on to a nursing home and the house is about to go on the market. His family was concerned about what to do with the type and presses he left behind. Al's grandson George spent a lot of time in the shop with his grandfather and decided that it was up to him to see that this precious equipment found new homes where it would be appreciated. He came to us for help preserving this equipment. On Friday, Clay Oliff, Rich Polinksi, and Alan Runfeldt headed up to Connecticut to rescue this equipment. Al's daughter Barbara recorded the event... See the flickr set of photos from this adventure.
The Heidelberg Windmill has gone to be the centerpiece of Clay's new shop in W. Va. The Golding Jobber, The old Advanced Cutter and the type and other items are being integrated into the collection of the Excelsior Press Museum Print shop.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Jeff Bassit with his 5x8 Kelsey Excelsior. Jeff first bought this press in Philadelphia and took it home with him to Chicago. But he never got to the point of using it, so found our web site and asked us if we wanted to take it over and restore for the next owner.
Of course, we did, so he brought it back from Chicago to Philadelpia during his next family visit and we arranged to meet and pick up the press - in a parking lot near Washington Crossing State Park.
Jeff's press is likely destined for a new user in Moscow. Small print shops did not exist during the last century in Russia as they did here in the U.S., so finding used presses there is a problem. Jeff agrees that it would be good for his press to find a new home in a country where freedom of the press was not readily available for one hundred years...
Saturday, June 20, 2009
A rush job this week - a 5x8 Kelsey restoration which had to be ready by Saturday night for pickup on Father's Day - Sunday.
Tina found this press in a consignment shop in Ohio and brought it to us to be made usable again. She came in on Tuesday and now, on Saturday evening, it is ready for pickup tomorrow. Restored, printing and proven with proofs!
Her husband is a graphic designer who has always wanted his own platen press... and now he will have it!
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Well, one more press has left the shop... We took Sarah's restored 8x12 Chandler & Price all the way out to Long Island and managed to actually get it - and her type cabinet and even her paper cutter - safely into the basement of her parents' home - not quite my favorite choice to a place to deliver a press to, but a far, far better place than her own 3rd-floor condo...
This is the press that Rich Polinski (http://Frontroompress.com) had already disassembled and cleaned thoroughly and was his original "Front Room Press" until he swapped it for Mr. Grossman's early series 10x15. In fact, Rich easily did the breakdown of this press at the barn and then the reassembly when we reached its new basement home.
After learning to hand feed on our 1870's treadle-operated 9x13 George P. Gordon press made by Damon & Peets, Sarah decided that she wanted to run her press by treadle. But, Herns' treadles are made for the New Series 8x12 and would not fit this 1893 early series, so Rich fabricated a beautiful, well-engineered and smooth operating treadle for her - of Hickory! It's beautiful, it's strong and it works very, very well. Sarah is quite pleased with it...
This press is now the quietest 8x12 I have ever heard run. Just about the only sound you can hear from 5 feet away is the ringing of the ink disk as it rotates on each impression...
We'll post a full page about the move - with some interesting technical photos about how we moved the press and Mr. Grossman's 19" Challenge lever cutter down some steep steps and through a 30" basement doorway. Watch for a link to that from here soon.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Jenifer came to the shop - all the way from Long Island - with the newly restored 5x8 Victor Press she got from our friend Lou. Although she brought her new Boxcar Base and photo polymer plate with her, she was amazed at the ease of settting and printing from type. She also learned how we cast Ludlow slugs and she printed a few pieces from that as well.
We expect that she'll be coming back for some serious lessons in hand composition and will likely be printing her own wedding invitations (using the Boxcar Plate) on the Vandercook before long...
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Sara brought her friend Jennete to the shop to score table tents for the last wedding invite set she printed here. Got some great video of them both pumping the treadle and hand-feeding the old Gordon press - with Rich serenading them with his guitar. Watch the video on YouTube - or download the 100k video file to watch on your pc locally (.mov file, compatible with most video players)
Saturday, April 25, 2009
An interesting day. I managed to make it into The Center For Book Arts in NYC to meet with Paul Moxon as his guest/assistant during his weekend Vandercook maintenance workshop. Although I have used my Vandercook Model 4 since 1975, I did learn some very interesting new facts about it.
After the workshop, we all headed over to The Arm in Brooklyn where I finally got to meet Dan and see his collection of type and presses. Quite an interesting visit there as well.
I have photos and more to tell about this day, and will add to this posting as soon as I can.
Friday, April 24, 2009
Well, I finally got around to printing myself some new cards -
on Mr. Ishill's old 1927 treadle-operated Golding Pearl.
A simple design, using the favorite old lead foundry casting logo I've used for 40 years... Such a peaceful image... Set in Baskerville and Bernhard Gothic Light. Nice fonts. Printed on a classy tan leatherette duplex. Old waste cover stock I cut down to business card size some 25-30 years ago.. I ran some in Peacock Blue and some in Van Dyck Brown. Dunno which I like better..
I needed some cards - hadn't had a current card for a while - the printer without cards - not an uncommon occurance... But I'll want some to hand to Paul Moxon and Dan and others when we meet tomorrow at Paul's Vandercook Maintenance Workshop being held at the NYC Center for Book Arts. After the workshop, Paul & I plan to go visit Dan at The Arm in Brooklyn. Field Trip! ;)
Those rubber rollers have been on the Pearl since it arrived in our shop from Joseph Ishill (Oriole Press) via Barbara Croneberger in 1972. Amazing that they still carry ink. New ones would improve the print quality, but these old sulpher-based rubber rollers (no longer available) have kept their life for at least 36 years!
And, I took a photo of Platen Press Row at the Excelsior Press.
Pearl, Gordon, Pilot, 10x15 C&P & 12x18 C&P
Saturday, April 11, 2009 -
Gabe brought his whole family along to see the shop on Saturday - and to discuss repairs to his Kelsey 5x8 .
His grandfather was a publisher in Brazil and his mother recalled visiting the Monotype composing room to check galley proofs when she was a young girl. For her, the visit here was a step back in time...
And, his charming younger sister Julia, learned to set type by hand and saw how the form is locked up in the chase. I suspect she may do some letterpress work of her own some day in the future.
Thursday April 9, 2009 -
Rachael Kondylas came by on Thursday to pick up her press and kit and a quick lesson on how to use it.
As has happened more than once here at the Excelsior Press, she was accompanied by her parents on her trek up here all the way from Baltimore. They were also quite excited about Rachael's new adventures into letterpress printing.
Shown here is a photo of Rachael proudly holding up her first print. A moment before this photo was taken, I heard a very positive expression of pleasant surprise as she made her first print on her new press...
And, the thank-you card to the right was done after she was home at her own shop.
Ah, the next generation of printers is growing...
March 29, 2009 - SHIPPING YOUR KELSEY PRESS
Todays' first matter of business - see how NOT to pack a Kelsey press for shipping - Logan's sad story of a 6x10 damaged in transit...
This press was very poorly packaged by the trained staff of a local UPS Store.
Before you ship your press, please take a look at the results of poor packing.
March 20, 2009 - a visit by Isa and Natalie who will be taking their Rhode Island Restored Kelsey to Taiwan. While at the shop, I dug out some Chinese Type which Natalie printed on our 1925 Vandercook Model 17. Rich took notes on the meanings of the characters in this form and may well be printing a translation soon...
March 15 - The Excelsior Press team welcomes Chicago's Paul Aken to the shop - with The Kelsey Company's own building sign - won by Paul at auction in Connecticut.
We tried repeatedly to stump Paul with something in our collection - some 2 dozen presses - that he did't already have.. no luck. Paul's got 200 presses in his collection - and thousands of books on printing and typography - far more than we can ever hope to have.
Rich, Paul & Sarah in photo.
We will be shipping the sign to his museum in Chicago.
(Yes, Paul we promise to ship it soon..)
March 14 -
John Crombie of the Alexandria Township Historical Society came by to borrow a set of rollers for the 8x12 C&P we helped them rescue a few years ago - and which we then stored in the shop for a few years. Now the press is in place in their building and Rich & I are helping them put together a working display.
February 27, 2009 -
Same as my last post - so much has happened - how to keep up with this blog?
Thanksgiving Day, 11/27/08 -
So much has happened since my last entry, that I almost don't know where to begin, so here's a bullet list of reports I still have to make here:
This weekend, I will be seeing a couple from Long Island, who are bringing their new Kelsey press to the shop with them to learn how to use it.
And next week, another Kelsey owner will be bringing his to the shop to do as Rachael did - to assist in the restoration and then learn how to set type and print with it!
Ah, I'm so glad that I have a print shop in a barn and that I kept this collection of presses and type and other equipment for these past 40 years or so... It really is a pleasure to go to work there every day.
Sat, 9/13, 2008: Just Found Dave Seat's photos of us on his web site... These are from just last month:
Alan & Barry - Alan & (the new) Ludlow -M See our photos from his last visit in 2002
See Dave's extensive collection of photos of more Printers Around the Country and the World
Friday, September 12, 2008 - Rescue Alert - Complete Letterpress Shop near Jacksonville, Florida needs a new home
Thurs, Sept 11, 2008
IF YOU ARE IN OR NEAR IOWA!!!
I just heard about a great event - The 15th Annual Midwest & Great Northern Printers Fair - September 19 and 20, 2008 in a permanent display at the annual "Old Threshers Reunion" in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. This is like a permanent museum print shop with lots of type an presses and even their own letterpress newspaper!
Wow. After seeing the photos of the layout in the big hall - I wish I could be there!
Friday August 1, 2008
Today's project was printing posters for the local Town Picnic in Frenchtown. Not a great job, but sorta fun. I didn't take any photos of the posters, but I do have some online from last year. - 2007 http://frenchtown.com/police/PrintedPoster.html I think I'll print the other side in red later tonight or tomorrow. That will let the poster be viewed from either side of the windows they will likely be posted in - like down at Frenchtown's IGA market, over at Don Shaible's Barber Shop, and other places in Frenchtown
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
We've posted a new page showing photos of a press found in Greece. Petros is trying to identify the manufacturer. I couldn't tell him - can you? Please take a look at Press in Greece and telll us if you can NAME THAT PRESS!
Update 8/7 - Well, it looks like we have a very possible answer. Check out the page for that and more as Petros writes us the story of this press being used by the Resistance during WWII !!
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Today sets a milestone in the history of The Excelsior Press and myself as a compositor. Dave "Hotmetal" Seat stopped by today and serviced and wired up our new Model M Ludlow slug caster and Barry Mueller's old reliable Intertype line caster. We also serviced the old Model L Ludlow and will be casting with it again as soon as the motor goes back on.
Having all three casters working means we need to produce a type specimen book, showing the fonts we can cast. We have over 50 fonts in Ludlow Mats and likely as many in Linotype mats, so making up the specimens may take some time. But, once that is done, we intend to offer linotyping and ludow hot metal casting services. We are casting from both machines now and it is very, very exciting. And now that I have a Ludlow to play with again, my wife has a slug of 36 point Clarendon Bold that says "CATHY" on her dashboard.
Next, I'll be setting and casting font samples for the other fonts in the four Ludlow cabinets and a few dozen Intertype magazines, at least, plus some more mats sitting in galleys. Watch here for another announcement and link to specimens and ordering information.
One reason this getting the Intertype working is so important to me is that when I was seventeen, I worked at Interstate Printing in Plainfield, NJ. It was a 100% letterpress shop, printing wildlife magazines with four-color illustrations on some large Miller 35" sheet fed cylinder presses. All of the type was either hand set, Ludow or Linotype. But all of the metal compostion was handled by the ITU union guys.
The thing is, I wasn't in the ITU, so these union guys wouldn't even let me in to look at the Linotypes, which fascinated me no end. It was very frustrating not to be allowed to learn something that intrigued me so much. So now, 41 years later, I have finally realized that dream on my own (with Barry and Dave's help, of course) and have sat down and typed on the obscure Linotype keyboard layout and have cast lines of type. A dream long-delayed, but now come true. I'll add some photos and do up a dedicated page of Saturday's activities when I catch my breath.