Monday, November 19, 2007

Printing like it's 1907!

I'm way behind on my updates but, I've got some cool stuff to show off! As an explanation though, I've been busy at work. Last Friday was the 100th Anniversary of Oklahoma Statehood. If you live here, it's a big deal. If you're employed by the state historical society, it's an even bigger deal. Anyway, I got to go up to Guthrie, Oklahoma, which was the capital in 1907, and spend the day running presses for folks at the State Capital Publishing Museum. I got to run a 100+ year old Chandler & Price (Old Style) and other stuff. Unfortunately for everyone around me, I want a real press now. Don't tell my Baltimore #11, or my Nervine Press. They're old biddies and get real jealous. This first photo is the front of the 1902 State Capital Publishing building. You can click on the photo for more info, if so inlcined. The bleachers are there for the parade and the Statehood proclimation because it was in this building the telegraph arrived that Theodore Roosevelt had signed Oklahoma into Statehood. I stood close by when the grandson of the man who ran out and hollered "Oklahoma is a State!", did just as his grandfather had done 100 years ago. Then we shot our guns in the air and hollered some more. Oklahoma is a fun place to live. Back to the beginning.

This isn't the museum I normally work at, so I was looking forward to a day out of the office, and having some fun. First thing, I cut paper. Typically, this isn't a fun task, but when you get to use a 1910s Oswego 44" blade cutter, it was extremely cool. This thing takes the whole body to operate, and can cut half a ream at a time! Also, I was told Oswegos were known for a bad design that did not ensure the blade locked in the up position after a cut. It had a nasty habit of dropping just as you would reach in for your fresh cut paper. I was told to always use a stick to get the paper out. See the stick in my hand? No, I'm not sticking my hand in there, I used the stick. I don't care what it looks like. I'd already pulled the paper past the cutting point. If all this talk of vintage printing/ bookbinding equipment makes you "geek out" as bad as I do, here's another shot of a non-public area of the museum: You should be able to click on any photo and get much larger versions. Believe me, there is a lot, lot, lot, lot more. Here's another shot of me at the Oswego. A bit of another standing press and an old Hancock monster in the foreground:
I ended up having to dust off the Hancock and use it after the Oswego decided to become difficult. It got determined to take a finger or two, I decided not to part ways with any of me... so I switched. However, it was hard finding a sharpish spot on the Hancock blade to cut the paper. The other guy I was working with that day chimed "It'll look like deckled edging". Well... I guess so... Then we went down into the public area, where there's a little mock up print shop with a cabinet of type, an imposing stone, a C&P Old Style, and a little proof press. I ran little bookmarks on the proof press while the other gent got our other material composed and locked up. We decided on a simple text: "I was in Guthrie Oklahoma November 16, 2007" with the state seal. Something like that. Anyway, I really liked the setup they have there for doing live printing demonstrations. It worked ok for two people to be in there working, but it would be better for one. Visitors can see on three sides, and see everything going on, like when the paper starts dropping out the bottom of the press, because I'm too busy talking to get them into the guide pins correctly. "Just let them go." They've framed it out to look like a little building, with the framing providing a barrier for safety. The second picture gives you the other half. The imposing stone, the other half of the type cabinet, furniture and just the corner of the proof press. The whole area is probably not more than 10' x 12'. At the front we have a simple little swing gate with long pins that drop through the floor to lock them each in place. We still had a toddler make a break for it inside, though. Maybe we need to put up chicken wire! So, that was it. We printed a lot of little sheets, and saw a lot of very nice folks, not only from Oklahoma, but Texas, Kansas, Wisconsin, Connecticut, China, Poland, Italy, Japan... it was a fun day. Did I remember to take home the couple samples I printed and set aside for myself? Of course not. If you're interested in seeing more of the museum, including the press room, get yourself over to the Amalgamated Printers Association's July 2007 Gallery Gab for a look at the museum this last summer. Lots of photos! More platen presses, Linotypes, old Miehles, Hickock pen ruler, etc. etc. etc. Enjoy!

1 comment:

Chris Lowenstein said...

Great photos! I love to see the old printing presses, though I have no clue how to actually use one. Thanks for showing what they look like and what they do -- especially that machine that cuts half a ream of paper. Very cool.

Chris Lowenstein
Book Hunter's Holiday