The Platen Press Museum
"I have been involved in letterpress since I took my first course as a freshman in high school in 1956. After high school I worked in a composing room at a local print shop in Milwaukee for a couple of years. I then attended Stout in Wisconsin where I earned a bachelor's and master's degrees in Industrial and Vocational Education with an emphasis in printing. I worked in the school print shop at Stout and also at a weekly newspaper. I taught Printing at the high school level in Northern Illinois for 28 years, starting with letterpress and hot metal and ending in computers and offset. My dream was always to open a Letterpress museum and I have achieved that dream. I used to tell people that I was a printer who collected letterpress type and equipment. Now I tell them I am a collector who prints. The museum is 4,000 square feet jammed with letterpress stuff. I now specialize in tabletop presses."
Since 1999, Jennifer Farrell has operated Starshaped Press in Chicago, focusing on printing everything from business cards and social stationery to music packaging and posters, as well as custom commissions and wholesale cards and prints. All work in the studio is done with metal and wood type, making Starshaped one of the few presses in the country producing commercial work while preserving antique type and related print materials. Jennifer’s work has been repeatedly recognized both in print and design blogs, and has appeared in poster shows throughout the USA and Europe. Work can be viewed at www.starshaped.com.
Rick von Holdt
In 1976 Rick von Holdt traded a gumball machine for a 5"x8" Kelsey press and five cases of type. He soon acquired a proof press and started seeking more type, getting most of his early fonts from typography shops in San Francisco who were getting rid of handset type because phototype had taken over. He originally wondered if he would be lucky enough to fill one cabinet with type. He named his press The Foolproof Press because of his beginnings as a fool with a proof press. He has been printing pretty much as a hobby-only for almost forty years and in that time has managed to accumulate over 2,000 fonts of handset type for his shop. He has also acquired a decent number of presses but still prefers to hand-ink and print on a Poco proof press. He serves as a director at Printers' Hall in Mt. Pleasant, IA and is on the faculty of the Des Moines Art Center, teaching a class in letterpress poster printing once or twice each summer.
Ackley Publishing Co.
The clanking of a hand-fed C&P in a “mom and pop” print shop was the sound that got the attention of Jim Daggs in 1968, and began his apprenticeship under a patient old master letterpress printer in his hometown of Eldora, Iowa. The letterpress shop handset all of their type, so, learning the California case came with it. Soon young Daggs paid $25 for am 8x12 C&P and several cabinets of type from a nearby newspaper shop, and started a small printing business in the basement of his father’s store. At 14, he continued his apprenticeship at his hometown newspaper plant, learning the Linotype, Ludlow, stereotyping, and other printing work in that all-letterpress shop, until he graduated from high school in 1974. A year later, he joined letterpress equipment dealer and newspaper publisher Chuck Dunham of Deep River, Iowa in a joint venture publishing the Ackley (IA) newspaper, which they converted back to letterpress production. Jim bought out his partner in 1983, and expanded the commercial printing portion. A major expansion was done in 1999 to expand the letterpress and hot metal “holdings” another 5400 square feet. Jim’s passion, occupation and enjoyment is metal typesetting and letterpress, and he shares his experience and facilities to assist with the Art/Graph program at Iowa State University.
Hill & Dale Private Press & Typefoundry
He got his first press when he was 14 years old and only a few months later Rich Hopkins came up against not having enough type. That’s when he did his first experiments in casting type. Using a ladle and the open flame of the family’s gas water heater, he melted old type and tried to form new letters using as his matrix old papier maché stereotype mats which came to him as wrapping around bundles of newspapers which he delivered for the local daily newspaper.
He became intrigued with the Monotype machine via his high school printing textbooks. In the mid 1960s he became aware that typefounding was disappearing quickly and that if he was to have a continuing supply of type for his writing and printing interests, he’d better become a typefounder. He acquired his first Monotype in 1970 and has steadily added to his collection since that time. He now has seven operational casters in his basement, along with over 3,000 fonts of matrices, some dating back to the 1830s.
In 1978 he called a meeting of fellow typecasting enthusiasts and that meeting evolved into the American Typecasting Fellowship. Rich has written and published the ATF Newsletter since that time. Realizing the ikons of typefounding were quickly fading away, he opened his shop to students beginning in 1993 and, with the help of Paul Duensing, Roy Rice, Pat Taylor, Mike Anderson, Jim Walczak and Dan Jones, has now trained over 30 newcomers to the craft.
Rich formerly was a professor of advertising and typography at the School of Journalism at West Virginia University. From that he ventured to become a commercial printer and has operated a state-of-the-art offset printing plant for over 40 years. Using his journalism background, he writes extensively about type and letterpress printing history, and nearly always uses his Monotype equipment and Heidelberg windmill letterpress to publish this ephemera.
He is author of two acknowledged references: History of the American Point System of Type Measurement, and Tolbert Lanston and the Monotype: The Origin of Digital Typesetting. Both volumes are still in print.
“The entire Monotype System is marvelous. A stunning achievement considering it was nearly ready for the market before the end of the 19th century. I still am entranced watching a Composition Caster operate and want to do all in my power to assure that this marvelous technology remains alive for generations to come,” he says. Amazingly, his father said he never regretted giving Rich the $1.50 to buy his first ladle back in 1954. Though he now has several, Rich still prefers the first ladle he bought as a kid.
Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum
Jim Moran is Museum Director at Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. He runs letterpress workshops, archives the collection and maintains the museum on a daily basis. Previously he had volunteered at Hamilton and donated presses and equipment from his Green Bay, Wisconsin, printing firm, Moran’s Quality Print Shop, where he worked as apprentice, pressman, partner and owner with his father and grandfather for over 35 years. http://woodtype.org/
Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum
Stephanie Carpenter is a letterpress printer, educator, and graphic designer. She is the Assistant Director at the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. At the museum she teaches workshops, gives tours, and helps catalog one of the world’s largest collections of wood type. Her evenings are spent creating personal art in the form of posters, installations, and artists' books. Stephanie enjoys the tactile nature of letterpress printing, creating her work using wood and metal type, hand-carved blocks, and found imagery. She finds that the physical process of planning the work, setting the type, and printing the piece is just as important as the finished print. She received a BA in Communication Arts and Graphic Design from the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, IN, and an MFA in Graphic Design from Indiana University, Bloomington. She currently teaches graphic design courses at Silver Lake College in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. http://www.stephaniercarpenter.com/
Moore Wood Type
Scott Moore is a retired Industrial Arts teacher and now continues the tradition of cutting end grain hard maple wood type by the historic pantograph method. Scott has built two pantographs by modifying small engraving machine into a wood type cutting machines. To provide lots of type high, end grain maple slabs, Scott also designed and built a very accurate Type High Surfacing Machine. MWT owns a historic Hacker Block Leveler to speed up the type high maple production process. Scott’s company, Moore Wood Type, is located in central Ohio and for the past five years he has been making and selling historic based ornaments, catchwords, and replacement letters to letterpress printers around the world. The company has just purchased it’s own 90 watt professional laser which is also used to make new wood type. His philosophy is that every printer deserves to have some special “printers candy” wood type to use on their own projects. http://moorewoodtype.com/
Tammy and Adam Winn
Red Door Press
The Red Door Press is a studio run by a husband and wife team located in Des Moines, Iowa that specializes in creating prints, cards, and other ephemera using the traditional printing method known as letterpress. The studio was started in August of 2012 with a single press and a small handful of type. The studio got its name from a particular red door which we visit every year to take family photos. The idea of remembering who we were in the past is the foundation we built our studio on. Today we have grown to almost sixteen presses and an ever-growing type collection – and we’re not slowing down.
We were drawn to letterpress because of the process: from composing type and mixing our own ink to feeding each individual piece of paper into the press and finding the right color envelope to match. We love mixing the old traditions of letterpress with modern methods and seeing where printing can take us. We love how each piece of work is unique – we love the imperfections created by using old worn wood type. Letterpress has a beautiful history and we’re so excited to learn more about it, be part of it, and to share it with others.
We find that printing in the studio engages our sense of play more than our sense of work. We enjoy trying new things – printing on unusual or reclaimed mediums, using transparency and overlap to create new shades and tones, and using hand-set type in unexpected ways to create shapes and patterns. The various impressions possible in letterpress engage not only our sense of sight, but of touch as well. We are truly excited to be able to share our artwork with the community. We are so happy to be able to keep the traditional printing methods alive for years to come. Our work and more info about us can be found at www.thereddoorpress.com.
Gregory J. Walters
Gregory J. Walters bought his first press, a Kelsey 9x13, as a 6th grader in 1964. His first paid job in letterpress was running the high school printshop in his junior and senior year for $1.10 an hour. He graduated with a BS in Printing Management from Ferris State College in 1975 and was in one of the last classes to take hot metal composition and letterpress presswork. He has now worked 40 years in the printing industry, but never as a manager or in letterpress. He has compensated by becoming a collector of letterpress type, presses, books, and typecasting mats and machines.
Hatch Show Print
Celene Aubry is the Manager at Hatch Show Print, one of America's oldest surviving letterpress show poster and design shops. In addition to overseeing the staff and operation of a vibrant 136 year old letterpress print shop, Celene is also guiding the development of additional Hatch Show Print programs and activities that leverage a classroom and gallery – two spaces that are still relatively new to the shop - while still carrying on the shop’s tradition of preservation through production, making posters for the customers whenever time allows. And, when the day’s work is done, Celene enjoys pursuing her quest to bring together the two outmoded processes of letterpress printmaking and hand-printed photographs.
Hatch Show Print
Master printer and curator at Hatch Show Print