Let me explain…
(I will try and keep this relatively short)
I have been in love with letterpress for as long as I can remember. It is simply beautiful the way the designs and type bite into the paper giving it a third dimension. The impression is subtle, yet powerful and I absolutely love it.
I have had this idea for a while now to find an old letterpress and restore it back to working condition. I had been looking on Craigslist for about six months and had never came across a thing. One Sunday morning I was snooping around on Craigslist and I found one! I must have looked at the ad literally two minutes after he had posted it. I was the first one to call about the press. An old farmer from Waupun, Wisconsin had bought it a few years back at a farmers’ auction with the intent of fixing it up. He told me he was just too old to fix it up and wanted to sell it.
Long story short, my dad and I drove out to Waupun the next weekend to see the letterpress. My dad is very mechanically inclined and can make ANYTHING run. After looking at it we decided it would be able to be restored and I bought it! Two weeks later, we hitched up the trailer, headed back to Waupun and brought it all the way back to my parent’s house. It now sits in the lower third garage all ready to be fixed up. All I have to say is thank god for tractors! It is huge. The flywheel alone is about 200 lbs!
Now the research begins. I have joined an online letterpress community called Briar Press that I have found to be unbelievably helpful! I have found a manual for a press very similar to mine, where to buy new ink rollers, what kind of sandblast to use and the number one bit of advise I have received is to KEEP MY HANDS OUT! I guess this kind of press, called a platen press, is known for taking off fingers! Ouch! I have even had several people invite me to their letterpress shops to show me around and teach me.
The next few moths will be a lot of degreasing, sandblasting, ordering new rollers, ink and paper, going to letterpress museums, visiting shops and a whole lot of learning. It will be a process, but one I am very excited about. I have big plans for Tilly once my dad and I get her up and running. I am sure I will be updating you often on our progress.
Here are a few pictures. The letterpress came with eight trays of lead type and a paper cutter. I also included a couple of inspirational pictures of letterpress. You’ll see why I love it so much.
Images 1-3: Sycamore Street Press, Images 4-6: Letterpress Delicacies, Images 7-8: Golden Rectangle Press