In print

So it was “Stationary Store Day”, a holiday which I had read about in M’s blog “”. I looked at the link, saw that there was a place in town that was participating, and decided I must go check it out to celebrate this holiday (I do love celebrating).

And here it is, located in what passes for a downtown locally. As I recall, this space was home to a seller of sheet music (and possibly instruments) for years. At some point demand for such items disappeared, and these nice ladies moved in a year or so ago. And are they a simple stationary store? No of course not, they run a full service printing operation.

What do they use for printing? Why they have a number of large vintage machines that use ink and brute force to print up whatever one desires. This clanking behemoth can print up to 5000 pages an hour (really this should be sufficient for most needs).

The machine pictured in the back is from the 1880’s and does weigh a ton. It is not tremendously useful, so it is currently a speaker stand, but it is in working order.

In the foreground is the machine I got to use on this special day. It’s relatively modern, being from 1948. So to use it one steps on the foot pedal to release the clamps at the very top to be able insert the item to be printed. Then one turns the giant crank and the piece rolls over a freshly inked plate to print the item and then releases the item with a thunk at the end of the track.

And here is what I ended up with. The cardstock had previously been run through the machine to print the red hearts, then they set up the machine to print the blue (all in all it’s pretty labor intensive compared to using some sort of digital printing). But each card has a quality that can’t be replicated with mere digital technology. Each card is the product of human hands, these lovingly maintained machines and the women who love keeping this art alive.

3 thoughts on “In print”

  1. Fabulous description of letterpress printing! I’m so happy you had a local store taking part in Stationery Store Day and that you even got to try the press yourself. Wow!

    I’m putting out a post about letterpress this week! 🙂 Thanks for letting me know about this post.

  2. What a wonderful shop.

    That must have been fun, printing that card yourself. Thank goodness these machines got saved instead of ending up in a landfill.

  3. Wow! Not only did you have a local stationery store participating, but a Letterpress that let you pull a print! Also, you wrote a lovely description of the place and the process.

    You inspired me to check for one here, and there’s a Letterpress and Linotype guy within two miles of my house that I never knew about. Not a shopfront but they give tours if you ask. I will … 🙂

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