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Monthly ArchiveNovember 2015

Studio projects Friday November 27 2015 11:54 am

Setting up our Harrild & Sons Albion

Looking for advice setting up an Albion: | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3: reconstruction order | Part 4: naming the Albion pieces

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We’ve been doing some work on our Harrild & Sons Albion. We’ve been trying to explain the problems we are having and trying to get suggestions for correcting them from other handpress owners. If you would like to see the process you can take a look.

An interesting new development is that we think 2 photos from Richard-Gabriel Rummonds’ book Printing on the Iron Handpress” are of our press and/or its brother.

We originally bought ours from the Museum of Printing in North Andover, MA back in 2008. There were two identical presses. The serial number of ours is 8112. As best I can tell from the one photo that shows it on the other one ended in “113″ (cannot read the 8).

Here are the two photos.

Above: This one shows the press feet/legs to the cheeks so we have a much better idea that the photo matches our press. The caption in Rummonds’ book reads…

Photo 13: Pressmen printing The Catalogue of the Frick Collection on two Albion presses back to back. Laboratory Press, Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pittsburgh, PA, 1949. (Photo courtesy of Cary Graphic Arts Collection, RIT.)

Above: Photo 14: Pressmen printing The Catalogue of the Frick Collection on a Harrild Albion Press. Laboratory Press, Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pittsburgh, PA, 1949. (Reprinted, by permission, from American Printer, March 1950.)

Paul Ritscher of Devil’s Tail Press, through the iron handpress listserv where we’ve been getting the advice for our Albion setup, offered this bit of information about the presses.

“In a glance at Porter Garnett: Philosophical Writings on the Ideal Book, Book Club of California 1994 (a book that should be in every hand-press library), Porter Garnett describes the purchase of the two presses specifically for the purpose of printing the Catalogue of the Frick Collection for the Museum of Modern Art, a project begun in 1928, and not completed until after he left Carnegie in 1935 by Bruce Rogers.”

After bit of online searching we found that the University of Delaware (just down the street) has a copy of the catalog of the Frick Collection. The colophon from volume 1, “The printing … was begun in 1929 by Porter Garnett who designed the basic format of the text, and who printed the sheets through page 168 … The work was laid aside in 1932. Printing was begun again in the spring of 1949 under the direction of Bruce Rogers, who designed the two volumes of illustrations, and the title page, section headings, and accessory pages for the volume of text. The sheets of text were completed on the hand-presses of the University of Pittsburgh … One hundred and seventy-five sets have been made”–Colophon of v. 1.

The story just keeps getting better.”

Information on PORTER GARNETT who may have been the first purchaser of our press (until we know better we are going to start giving the date of construction of our press as the 1920s)

Variously a playwright, critic, editor, librarian, teacher, and printer, Porter Garnett (1871-1951) was born in San Francisco and was for many years an active figure in the Bay Area literary scene. A member of the Bohemian Club for many years beginning in the 1890s, he wrote and produced plays and masques for the Club, whose members included his good friends Jack London and George Sterling. Like many members of the Club, he was involved in journalism, working as a newspaper critic and editor. With Gelett Burgess, he founded the magazine The Lark in 1895. From 1907 to 1912, he served as an assistant curator at the Bancroft Library at the University of California at Berkeley. In 1922, he became professor of graphic arts at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There, he founded the Laboratory Press, where he taught and practiced fine printing until the press closed in 1935.

Studio projects Friday November 13 2015 04:23 pm

The Society of Typographic Arts / keynote address

Jill and I have been invited by The Society of Typographic Arts in Chicago to deliver the keynote address at their 23rd annual Design Inspiration Weekend, entitled “Dearly Discarded,” a retreat and forum on design. Our talk will be on Friday, January 12, 2016. We’ve been asked to talk about our Tour de Lead Graffiti project. Sounds like a fun weekend.

We think we are going to be able to do 2 workshops on Thursday. One will involved our recent interest in the work of H.N. Werkman and the other would be a bookmaking workshop. Hopefully one in the morning and one in the afternoon will work into the schedule.

Worth noting to any of our Chicago friends that the talk is not open to the public.

Studio projects Tuesday November 10 2015 01:33 pm

Letterpress workshop based on the work of H.N. Werkman

At the 2015 national conference of the American Printing History Association, Ray took part in a design-on-the-fly letterpress workshop at the Rochester Arts Center. The hands-on activity was centered around the pre-WWII work of H.N. Werkman.

The conference workshop suggested some interesting possibilities, so we’ve started working on our own Lead Graffiti version. You can read the description of our two Werkman workshop events and see photos of the final results. One of the nice things is that it seems to work well with children, at least down to the age of 8. Could be a great experience for mothers/daughters or fathers/sons.

View the descriptions and photos below. Email Ray if you’d like to join in a future Werkman workshop.

Studio projects Tuesday November 10 2015 12:54 pm

Recast D-K type for the 36-line Bible ready for handsetting at Lead Graffiti

A number of years ago, a letterpress and typography friend, Mike Anderson, was researching the typographic history of the Bible. Mike had the casting equipment and know-how to produce his own metal type for printing via letterpress. Working from the 36-line Bamberg Bible, he produced what I believe is a full character set of approximately 250 characters.

Gutenberg type from 36-line Bamberg Bible

Another good friend, Chris Manson, has come into possession of all of the Bamberg Bible type Mike cast. It includes a full-page lock-up of a page of the 36-line Bible, plus 2 full California job cases of additional characters. Chris has placed the type on indefinite loan to Lead Graffiti. We are keeping the lock-up intact, but plan on trying to do some composing with the extra type.

We are developing a workshop utilizing the type that would interest librarians, historians, writers, designers, and typographers. A somewhat major problem is the vast number of characters, many with subtle differences in design and spacing and then distributing them back into the job cases. Keeping the sorts organized is both difficult and a critical must.

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The Bamberg Bible is the second printed Bible and it was created with what was probably the earliest moveable type produced by Johann Gutenberg. Larger and somewhat cruder than the type used in the more famous 42-line Bible of c. 1455, this type was first used to print a Latin grammar book, called a “Donatus” (c. 1452-1453), and a pamphlet called the “Turken Kalendar” (c. 1455). This Bamberg Bible type is known as the “D-K” or “36-line Bible” type.

This was possibly the only type left in Gutenberg’s possession after the lawsuit by his business partner, Johann Fust, in 1455, and it is not known if he sold the type to another printer, who then went on to produce the 36-line Bible, or if he was involved in the printing of that work himself.

To get more of the story and a really nice photo of the type, please click here.