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Progress this past month enabled by your donations!

First, if you're looking for a fantastic workshop, head right now to http://www.letterpressdepot.com/events/2017/10/5/sign-up-now-to-marvel-learn-print-with-brad-vetter

                             Jason Wedekind leads a team of volunteers

                             Jason Wedekind leads a team of volunteers

Construction at the Letterpress Depot

New wall for access ramp

 

Letterpress projects this month

 Curtis & Mitchell tabletop platen on a new hydraulic lift table…ready to print the winning design of art student Cassie Schaad, Platte Canyon High School: tickets for the Hootenanny!

Printing on a Poco for the Alliance of Artists Communities:

Newly donated Heidelberg on the move!

heidelberg move.jpg

We still need your support and involvement!

Come volunteer, donate, check out our posters, memberships and other perks available on our website at www.letterpressdepot.com; further info by phone (720-480-5358) and email and by direct mail (Letterpress Depot, PO Box 798 Englewood CO 80151).

 

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In memory of John Major Jenkins

John Major Jenkins was optimistic when he went in for surgery for kidney cancer in January; he even said he was doing well after the operation. But sadly, he passed away July 2 at the way too young age of 53. We knew John as a printer, as someone who was very knowledgeable and interested in presses, who regularly came down from Fort Collins for our Depot meetups. He shared blogs with us – which we are reprinting at http://www.letterpressdepot.com/blogs-on-type-presses-history/– on moving his humongous presses. And now he has left to the Depot the Campbell Century Pony press that he wrote about. Wish we still had John instead, but we are grateful to share this treasure.

Nationally, John was known as the author of five books on ancient Mayan cosmology, the meaning of the Mayan calendar and what he called archaeoastronomical research: He was proud of his exploration of the “galactic alignment in the vicissitudes of human history.”  In February, his novel went up for sale on his website and Amazon, followed in March by an updated “Journey to the Mayan Underworld.”

John also wrote movingly when his ex-wife died in 2015, acknowledging their ups and downs, but saying “from our first encounter in early 1996 … to our final farewell in early 2015, we loved each other.” In 2015, he also lost his 13+ year-old cat. John said since he didn’t have children, “Tyko was like my little boy, my papa wingnut.” Here are John and Tyko in happier and healthier times.

John leaves behind two brothers, a sister and all the presses he saved and restored, which are now finding new homes with other printers.  

John leaves behind two brothers, a sister and all the presses he saved and restored, which are now finding new homes with other printers.  

 

             

John leaves behind two brothers, a sister and all the press he saved and restored which are now finding new homes with other printers.  

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Summertime!

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Summertime!

It's been a busy summer and it's not nearly over yet!  Upcoming are the Rocky Mountain Book and Paper Fair (Aug 4-5) and Boreas Pass RR Day (Aug 19). But here's a look back at the last jam-packed month.  First and foremost in everyone's mind... progress at the Depot. Thanks to our Indiegogo campaign we were able to start the first phase of the work. 

Dirt in this case is a good sign!

Dirt in this case is a good sign!

The Depot was also the site of a BBQ, poetry reading by Paul Hunter, poster display by Iowa printer Rick von Holdt, and a chance to just get together. Thanks to Len Lingo, grillmaster, and Chris Citron and family, helpers extraordinaire.

One of the highlights of every summer: the Cherry Creek Arts Festival. We enjoyed printing for kids and excited adults alike, and spreading the Depot word. 

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Mid-July update: Campaign raised 40k! A wall! Doors! A ramp! Happenings!

OUR INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN HAS CONCLUDED! 

Friends, we have concluded our Indiegogo campaign! We raised $27,222 on Indiegogo (we get to keep $24,974.34) and another $15,000 offline! Executive Director Tom Parson would like to pass on his thanks! “I want to express how much I appreciate the efforts and responses of support on all levels. This is an amazing accomplishment even if it falls short of our goal and our needs. Thank you all.” Though the indiegogo campaign wrapped up with an amazing response, we’ll still be fundraising through the summer and fall to complete phase 1 of the construction. You can always sign up for, renew, or upgrade your membership and we always accept and appreciate analog donations made out to “Englewood Depot Inc," at PO Box 798 Englewood, CO 80151. We will also be migrating all of our unsold perks over to our online store – where you can already check out all of the train themed posters. 

We’re currently about 2/3 of the way through mailing out the poster and book perks and are on track to get everything out by mid-August! For major donors owed custom printing and those of you who purchased custom printed posters, postcards, business cards, or signed up for individual and group workshops, we will be contacting you within the next couple weeks to coordinate with you! If you have any questions about your perks, printing, or workshops, feel free to email Executive Director Tom Parson or Board President Peter Bergman

 

CONSTRUCTION PROGRESS!

For those of you excited to see progress on the historic Depot building check out what we’ve been able to achieve with the fundraising…

The Doors Are Up!  

Where there once was an open cave there is now a wall and lovely garage doors!

Where there once was an open cave there is now a wall and lovely garage doors!

Half of phase 1 construction was building a lower level wall and installing doors. Thanks to YOU and your donations we have accomplished this! The doors bring a beautiful feel, light and ready, inside and out! The wall and doors now mean we will be able to start moving our collection of type and equipment in! 

The Grading is Done!

The "porch"! Looking forward to future days unwinding here after a long day printing!

The "porch"! Looking forward to future days unwinding here after a long day printing!

We now have an ADA (and forklift) accessible grade on a ramp to the lower level and a "patio" – a place to land our 15 presses and 2,500 drawers of type as we move them into the building!

Next steps are to get the retaining walls built, get concrete poured for the ramps, move equipment in, and paint the upper level! More funding is needed, but the depot space has a new presence and is showing a lot of progress!

 

LETTERPRESS DEPOT IN THE NEWS!

Letterpress Depot Executive Director Tom Parson was featured on the Partner Purpose Blog in the below video and this article: Purposeful Q+A: Tom Parson + Letterpress Depot

Thanks to Neenah Paper for Spreading The Word about The Letterpress Depot on Against The Grain – the Neenah Paper blog – with this article: All Aboard @ The Letterpress Depot!

And thank you to BuisnessDen blog for this write up about our ongoing progress in their article: Upgrade in the works for old-school printing studio

 

HAPPENINGS!

For an ongoing calendar of Letterpress Depot related events please see the EVENTS & WORKSHOPS section of our website!

We still have three spots left in both the Pressure Printing workshop with Brad Vetter in October and the Ornamental Type Workshop with Jennifer Farrell in March.

There are still spots left in both the Brad Vetter and Jennifer Farrell workshops!

There are still spots left in both the Brad Vetter and Jennifer Farrell workshops!

A group of eight Depot board members and volunteers did demos all weekend at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival over 4th of July weekend

Elanor demonstrating inking on the proof press at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival

Elanor demonstrating inking on the proof press at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival

Tom crankin’ with a new letterpress afficianado! 

Tom crankin’ with a new letterpress afficianado! 

We had our first official event at the Depot hosting visiting poet and printer Paul Hunter for a reading and APA member and printer Rick Von Holdt with a pop-up poetry reading and patio potluck!

Poet Paul Hunter warming us up with a song!

Poet Paul Hunter warming us up with a song!

Upcoming Events and Demos!

Also stay tuned for an end of summer Englewood Community event for neighbors and Englewood residents!

 

THANK YOU MAJOR DONORS FROM THE END OF THE CAMPAIGN!

Paul Hunter brought ANOTHER donation with him on his visit to Denver and has become the first major donor to join our Benjamin Franklin Circle!  Likewise, Polly and Bill Parson made a second major donation and jumped up to the William Morris Circle!

We have new donors join the Frederic Goudy Circle – Bill Whitley, Lisa Abendroth and Eric Grattan!

Bill Whitley has been involved with the Museum of Printing in Massachusets, and is helping a local history museum in Ft. Collins Colorado with an exhibit on printing in 2018 for which the Letterpress Depot will loan a small press!

Lisa Abendroth is a Professor of Communication Design at MSU Denver and the co-editor of the Public Interest Design Practice Guidebook! When she’s not enmeshed in public interest design she’s rafting Colorado’s rivers and skiing it’s slopes with her husband Eric Grattan, an IT professional and avid outdoorsman.

Tom and Marc helping Letterpress Depot member Natalie Zanecchia move her C&P!

Tom and Marc helping Letterpress Depot member Natalie Zanecchia move her C&P!

We also received a generous donation from Letterpress Depot member Natalie Zanecchia after board member’s Tom and Marc spent the day helping her move her C&P! This has been our fundraising model for a long time – help people with their letterpress equipment and projects and if they can help us with a donation great!

Now we have a HUGE project that will enable us to help hundreds of people to learn and love letterpress and we’re asking for you to help us help them! 

 

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES!

Time to scrape and paint the depot? Keeping up with the yardwork and landscaping? Help with planning the library collection? inventory of type and equipment? Additional workshops and classes? Printing projects... Moving the equipment into the depot!? Help us celebrate!?

To get more involved with our committees, board of directors, or volunteer opportunities please get in touch!

THANK YOU SO MUCH FROM THE LETTERPRESS DEPOT!

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mid-June update: $20,000, a grant, VisitORS & weeding!

Please help us out in the last two weeks of the campaign by donating and spreading the word about this ambitious project!

For all of you who don't know what "The Depot" is, it's a historic building built in 1915 – one of two remaining Mission style train depots in the west! In addition to creating a museum, we’re working on restoring this beautiful building and creating a community center for Englewood Colorado!

 

We're wanting to send a HUGE upside down and backwards THANK YOU to all of our donors large and small for getting us over $20,000 yesterday on Indiegogo! We're now only $1,500 away from paying for the retaining walls and grading to the grounds with two weeks to go in the campaign!! Every little bit helps us pay for that crucial step!

 

We’re also excited to announce that we received a generous $2,500 grant from GE Johnson Construction Company! GE Johnson is "committed to building upon a legacy of philanthropy to, and engagement within, the communities in which we work and live by fostering support in the following areas: Education, Health and Human Services, the Environment, Sports and Recreation and the Arts.” 

 

Also a big thanks to Paul Hunter for upgrading from the Frederick Goudy circle to the William Morris Circle! Paul is a poet, musician, instrument-maker, teacher, and editor and publisher. For over a decade, he has produced letterpress books and broadsides under the imprint of Wood Works Press in Seattle – which you can check out and receive as a perk on your next donation!

 

We're still $35,000 away from paying for the concrete ramp and patio needed to get our 15 presses and 2,000 cases of type into the building. We're looking at additional grants and creative construction if anyone has any ideas!

Executive Director Tom Parson took a break from the fundraising to do what he does best – share knowledge about letterpress preservation and history with visiting Scottish printer and educator Mary Asiedu! Though Tom’s back yard is a relaxing ADA accessible location to talk letterpress it does have it’s limitations! That’s why we’re working so hard to find a permanent and home for our collection and a place for people to go for a deeper understanding of their craft – or even to touch type for the first time!

 

Tom and fellow Depotians Peter Bergman, Mike Roberto, and Anna Goss took a break from fundraising to do what none of us do best! When you're on the board of a non-profit trying to restore a historic building sometimes you've just got to pull some weeds! 

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Thank you Publication Printers and major donors!

It's always exciting to open our Indiegogo page and see who has joined our effort. Relatives, friends, friends of friends, civic minded businesses and new supporters from around the world! Thanks so much! Today we want to especially thank our most recent major donors. Heading into Memorial Day weekend we're at $22,000 but still have 70% of our goal to reach in the month of June! Help us spread the word!

Thank You Publication Printers!

"Publication Printers is a trusted leader in the web printing industry. We provide our clients with comprehensive expertise to successfully market and distribute magazines, catalogs, brochures, direct mail, digital editions and more. Family-owned and operated since we opened our doors in 1979, we are now one of the leading web printers in the United States. For 38 years we’ve upheld our reputation for quality, excellence and service. We take care of every aspect of the project from printing and binding to mailing and shipping."

"Publication Printers is a trusted leader in the web printing industry. We provide our clients with comprehensive expertise to successfully market and distribute magazines, catalogs, brochures, direct mail, digital editions and more. Family-owned and operated since we opened our doors in 1979, we are now one of the leading web printers in the United States. For 38 years we’ve upheld our reputation for quality, excellence and service. We take care of every aspect of the project from printing and binding to mailing and shipping."

Publication Printers, which has a long history in Denver, supported us at the Johannes Gutenberg Circle level! In 1926, the Rosenbergs, a family of printers, came to Denver. In 1979, brothers Gary and IV Rosenberg founded Publication Printers, which prides itself on being innovative, progressive, and a trusted leader in the web printing industry.

The Rosenberg brothers – a longstanding family of Denver Printers

The Rosenberg brothers – a longstanding family of Denver Printers

Publication Printers started out doing coldset newspaper printing and evolved into one of the country’s leading web printers, successfully marketing and distributing magazines, catalogs, brochures, direct mail, digital editions and more – taking care of every aspect of the project from printing and binding to mailing and shipping. Gary remains as president and CEO of this 2nd generation family-owned business.

 

New William Morris Circle Members!

Ken and Joyce Letzler – Retired attorney Ken has been named as one of the country's leading antitrust lawyers by a number of publications, but his firm also celebrated his baseball playing skills. Joyce is renowned as a gracious and welcoming host. 

Martha Cooper – Martha’s editorial career began with letterpress publications, both newspaper and magazines. She says “it's fun to see all the art being produced letterpress” and “doubly fun to see the Depot’s progress.” Martha Cooper has made her donation available as matching funds! If we can raise another $1000 over the next week we can deposit her generous $1000 donation!

Board Members Made Matching Funds Available!

Peter Bergman and Heather Link-Bergman are artists and printers who use letterpress in their work. Peter has been a board member since 2013 and President since October 2015. He teaches beginning typography students at MSU Denver how to hand set type and print on equipment and type that Tom Parson initially helped the university procure and set up. Both Peter and Heather also have perks to offer. Check them out.

The other match comes from Tom and Patti Parson.  Tom is our Executive Director, a master letterpress printer and the dreamer and visionary behind the Depot. Patti is the board’s secretary, in addition to being Managing Producer for the PBS NewsHour. She says her printing talents are minimal but enthusiastic!  Tom also is a poet whose work is available as a perk.

 Depot board members and major donors Heather Link-Bergman (left) and Tom Parson (right)

 Depot board members and major donors Heather Link-Bergman (left) and Tom Parson (right)

 

A Big Thank You To All of our Major Donors!

Friends, board members and Publication Printers! We would not be where we are today without your support.

THANK YOU SO MUCH TO ALL OF OUR MAJOR DONORS!

Johannes Gutenberg Circle

 PUBLICATION PRINTERS 

William Morris Circle
the Wyoming Bergmans
Tom Speer
Peter Waldor
Peter Bergman and Heather Link-Bergman
Tom and Patti Parson
Ken and Joyce Letzler
Martha Cooper

Frederic Goudy Circle
Polly and Bill Parson
Annette and Tom DeMay
Paul Hunter
Amy Kitt
Miles O’Brien
Jenny Thomas and Dan Sjogren
Alicia Bailey
Linda Winslow

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Construction underway at The Letterpress Depot!

What’s happening under the blue tarp?

Construction is underway!

Construction is underway!

Progress! We have secured permits and our contractor has started framing the fourth wall that was missing. This huge step was made possible by all who have visited, shared and donated to our campaign!  We still have a ways to go towards reaching our goal for funding to complete construction, but we can’t stop smiling. And thanking you.

Framing the wall to the basement pressroom!

Framing the wall to the basement pressroom!

Help us crack 20k in 10 days!

We've come a long way to get to this point! But, we still have a long way to go. Please consider supporting our campaign during this must-make fundraising initiative! See our indiegogo page to make a donation and check out our perks! This week we've got $2000 in matching funds from large donors and are trying to crack 20k by Thursday 5/25! 

Workshops from superstar letterpress printers!

Once we get the building in order, we will be able to host workshops teaching letterpress printing and other book arts to individuals and groups – it’s part of our DNA, our reason for existing. But before our building is ready, you can take workshops with master printers whose work will make you say, “how did they do that?”.  We have two new perks right now that will show you how.

The work of Jennifer Farrell (left) and Brad Vetter (right)

The work of Jennifer Farrell (left) and Brad Vetter (right)

Jennifer Farrell, who runs Starshaped Press out of Chicago, created the ampersand print above (and many others) just out of regular and ornamental type. Her press is one of the few presses in the country producing commercial work while preserving antique type and related print materials. She will help you brush up on your understanding of typography and letterforms and show you how to create large, pictorial images with just type and metal ornaments. Beginners and seasoned veterans welcome! We are offering this 1.5 day workshop right here in Denver in late summer 2017 for 8 lucky donors. Check out our perk section to claim your spot.

Brad Vetter, who spent eight years honing his craft at the legendary Hatch Show Print in Nashville, one of the oldest letterpress print shops in the country, will explore new (and old) techniques in letterpress printing, including pressure printing that creates unique and spontaneous images in his 1.5 day workshop. Along with, he promises, “some other fun surprises.” Brad runs his own letterpress and design studio where he continues to hand print rock-and-roll posters while also adding more digital design to his repertoire. This workshop will be hosted here in Denver in fall 2017 with spots for available for 8 donors who want to take their printing to exciting new places.

To have both come to Denver to teach is a treat; to have them both heading our way to support the Letterpress Depot is an honor. And you don’t have to live here in Denver to come and learn. If you’re interested in traveling to Denver to attend this workshop please get in touch! We can help with any questions you may have.


THANK YOU SO MUCH TO ALL OF OUR DONORS!

Johannes Gutenberg Circle

Thank You To PUBLICATION PRINTERS which has a long history in Denver, for supporting us at the Johannes Gutenberg Circle level!  In 1926, the Rosenbergs, a family of printers, came to Denver. In 1979, brothers Gary and IV Rosenberg founded Publication Printers, which prides itself on being innovative, progressive, and a trusted leader in the web printing industry. Publication Printers started out doing coldset newspaper printing and evolved into one of the country’s leading web printers, successfully marketing and distributing magazines, catalogs, brochures, direct mail, digital editions and more – taking care of every aspect of the project from printing and binding to mailing and shipping. Gary remains as president and CEO of this 2nd generation family-owned business.

William Morris Circle
the Wyoming Bergmans
Tom Speer
Peter Waldor
Peter Bergman and Heather Link-Bergman
Tom and Patti Parson
Ken and Joyce Letzler
Martha Cooper

Frederic Goudy Circle
Polly and Bill Parson
Annette and Tom DeMay
Paul Hunter
Amy Kitt
Miles O’Brien
Jenny Thomas and Dan Sjogren
Alicia Bailey
Linda Winslow






 

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Letterpress Depot Indiegogo is live!

Please support our Indiegogo Campaign!

Our Indiegogo campaign is LIVE with a goal of reaching $70,000 to fully renovate the basement of our historic train depot building! With this initiative we'll be able to move over a dozen presses and hundreds of drawers of type into the building and start getting set up to open the doors! We have the presses and the place! Click the button to make it new! 

OUR MISSION

Long before text messaging, email or even typewriters, letterpress printing was the most common way share your thoughts and ideas through text dating all the way back to the fifteenth century. Our mission is to give hands-on access to traditional letterpress equipment to allow the community to continue to preserve, reimagine and redefine this beautiful art form for future generations.

The future Depot beautifully rendered by board member Kim Morski!

The future Depot beautifully rendered by board member Kim Morski!

The Letterpress Depot is located in Englewood, Colorado just south of downtown Denver and has an active presence at community events all over Colorado. We are a 501c 3 non-profit with passionate volunteers and an active board of dedicated artists, printers, designers, professionals, writers, librarians, archivists, historians, dabblers, tinkerers, thinkers and makers. What we all have in common is that we have all fallen madly in love with the magic of letterpress. Sure, it may sound quaint, but we know there is something special about the smell of the ink, the feel of the paper, the weight of the type in your hands, the clanking and clinking of an old press and the joy of holding something you made with your own hands.

Many artists and printers have dreamed of one day having a press and a space of their own and that is what we want to give to you by establishing the Letterpress Depot’s permanent homebase. Through this campaign we are raising funds to renovate our historic 1915 train depot into a unique home for our large collection of nineteenth and twentieth century presses and type. Our historic building was moved in 1994 to save it from demolition and after the relocation, the foundation was never completed — until now. To take on this big project, we need the support of our community of passionate printers, artists, neighbors, history buffs, railroad aficionados and makers in Colorado and around the world.

Our Executive Director, Tom Parson is the visionary behind our working museum. Tom’s philosophy is that to really know, appreciate and understand letterpress printing means getting your hands dirty learning how to use the type and presses – and to actually use them! You won’t find anything behind glass here. Everything including our most rare and antique type and equipment is here for you to look at AND touch!

WE HAVE

  • Literally tons of equipment – dozens of presses and thousands of fonts of metal and wood type acquired through our executive director Tom Parson and other generous donors.

  • Lots of experience providing workshops, classes and demonstrations to people at all levels and of all ages.

  • A dedicated, passionate and knowledgeable board, enthusiastic volunteers and a supportive network of friends in the community. We even have a CPA!

  • An extensive library of books, some rare, on printmaking and design.

  • A beautiful, historic building ready to be reborn.

FOR THE COMMUNITY

Once the basement pressroom is complete, visitors and community members will be able to learn from master printers and book artists – many of which are on our board – through a full rooster of workshops and classes. The Letterpress Depot will also provide access to equipment, studio space and its extensive library to local and visiting artists, printers, historians and scholars. Check our perks to see some of the amazing printers and artists who will be among our first visitors to work and offer classes at the depot.  The Letterpress Depot will offer a full range of educational programming for all ages and skill levels — there will be something for everyone from beginners to master printers.

Your contribution to this campaign will go to build a space where students, artists, designers, printers and the community can come for inspiration, hands-on experience and, most importantly, the fun of printing! We love the history of our building and all of its quirks and we are so excited to open it up to the community – even if you are not a printmaker you can appreciate the charm of our building and its story.

We have the presses and the place, help us make it new! 

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So you've read all about our Indiegogo and want to help..

Let me count the ways:

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1. Donate a perk to our Indiegogo campaign: We would love to offer some of your work as a
“perk” to people donating to the fundraiser. If you have something to share, email asap to englewooddepot@gmail.com, then send us an image of the item and mail it to Letterpress Depot c/o Tom Parson, 157 S. Logan Street, Denver CO, 80209 so we can list it quickly.

2. Donate money. We love small donors and major ones. Donors over $500 receive special acknowledgement but we are grateful for everyone. You can either donate through our marketplace or give us a call 720-480-5358 or email and we will talk more.

3. Log into our Indiegogo after May 1 and find a perk you cannot live without.

4. Spread the word about our Indiegogo on social media and from the rooftops of your houses.

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Your participation invited for '17. Donations matched rest of '16

Thank you for your support of the Letterpress Depot!  Your participation is our community.

In 2017:

  • we are planning construction to make the historic Englewood train depot functional for our museum and letterpress projects;
  • we expect to continue to offer our resources through workshops, classes, events, demonstrations, sales, exhibits, and sharing of technical advice and information;
  • we will increase continuing contact through our website and social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, with regular Meetups, direct emails, blogs, and active committee meetings;
  • we expect to get inky!

We are planning a membership meeting for early in the year, to involve and update our members and the broader community.

All these activities depend on your participation!  We invite you to join us with suggestions and wishes and energies! Currently we have committees and work-groups focusing proposals and policies for our library resources, our letterpress equipment and type collection, the building construction, landscaping and maintenance, and all aspects of development, as well as organizing and teaching workshops, and further creative printing projects. Consider the Depot your resource! What might you do with it?

Email englewooddepot@gmail.com, or call us at 720-480-5358.  I hope to hear from you!

Best wishes for the new year,
Tom Parson, Executive Director

Newly acquired printing cut, from the Zaner-Bloser company of Columbus, Ohio, which offered penmanship courses and materials beginning in the 1880s.

Newly acquired printing cut, from the Zaner-Bloser company of Columbus, Ohio, which offered penmanship courses and materials beginning in the 1880s.

 Englewood Depot, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. All donations, new and renewing memberships are being matched 100% through December 31, 2016.   www.letterpressdepot.com/marketplace
or by mail to PO Box 798, Englewood CO 80251.

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Could look at this woodtype all day

What a joy to see - glorious type made from pantograph-cut hand-finished hard maple. A visit to Virgin Wood Type Manufacturing Company in Rochester, NY was one highlight of the ATF conference our Executive Director Tom Parson went to this summer.   Co-founder Geri McCormick and Matt Rieck and Jim Grieshabe displayed their equipment and type including their newest chromatic type. 

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Fun with families in Sheridan

Depot executive director Tom Parson and board member Marc Silberman worked the roller proof press and the Curtis and Mitchell Columbian platen press for those attending Sheridan Celebrates on September 24, 2016.

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Sheridan comes to Englewood (again)

In 1994, the Depot was moved from Sheridan to its current location. And this past Saturday, Sheridan came to the Depot for a VIP event to honor those who worked so hard on Sheridan Celebrates. Depot executive director Tom Parson printed for the crowd, along with board members Kim Morski, Jason Wedekind and Patti Parson. Organizer Jean Ray was there, along with Sheridan Mayor Dallas Hall, City Council members Tara Beiter-Fluhr and Sally Daigle and other community supporters. They all got to hear Sheridan idol Michael Cox sing. He will be singing again (and Tom printing again) at Sheridan Celebrates, September 24. (See http://www.letterpressdepot.com/events/.)

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My $70,000 Printing Press

I have returned to the long journey of restoring, or resurrecting, a beautiful piece of antique printing machinery, the Campbell “Century Pony” flatbed cylinder press. It is a two-revolution press which, unlike the larger “drum cylinder” presses, uses a smaller cylinder that makes two revolutions for each impression on the horizontal bed that moves back and forth underneath. On the bed’s return under the cylinder, impression is avoided by a slight upward movement of the cylinder. 

The Campbell Century Pony presses were a great success and were made between 1895 and 1906, being developed out of Campbell’s earlier “Economic” model. My Campbell came with a counter that was dated 1897. This could be a good clue as to its production year. Moreover, during the life-span of a press’s production the number produced is usually weighted toward the beginning. (Yearly production numbers usually tailed off sharply in the final years.) The “Century” was marketed to the approaching new century, and most of the advertisements are seen in the mid-to-late 90s. For example, a picture in an article of 1896 depicts my press very accurately (From Printer’s Ink, Vol. 18):

The article states that the press weighs over 8600 pounds and is valued at $1600 – a pretty penny back then! One online source states that the average wage earner in 1890 made $1.53 a day and worked 279 days a year, thus making about $480 for the year. The Campbell was thus 3.33 years of wages for the average worker of the time. A low wage today ($10 / hr), at 5 days a week for 52 weeks gets you about $20,800 for the year. We might say that the Campbell would be valued at $70,000 in today’s dollars.  It’s a high-end “19th century flatbed cylinder press” in design and spirit, which was a major purchase for any upstart printer that took decades of hard work to pay off.  One question lingered for me: where was it born? 

Where the Campbell Was Built

A little research reveals that the Campbell Printing Press and Manufacturing Company originally built its own presses in Brooklyn but in 1879 the patent owners contracted with Mason Machine Works in Taunton, Massachusetts, to build the presses. It was a windfall for that company, and they expanded their operations. By 1893 some 950 people were employed.

A 1904 article in the Iron Age, Vol. 74, proves that Mason Machine works was still building the presses in 1904. Consequently, it’s almost completely certain that my Campbell was forged and built in this facility in Taunton, Massachusetts:

This is from an 1899 publication of the company. Shipping of presses west probably routed through Illinois. More research in Leadville might uncover its arrival and presence there. I wonder how and when my Campbell press made it to Colorado. There are several scenarios. It may have shipped new to the printing operation in Leadville, sometime between 1895 and 1906. It may have begun its work in some other town, and was purchased used at some later date. It went from Leadville to Arvada in the 1970s, where Mr Stoddardt used it to print posters for Lakeside Amusement Park. It supposedly hadn’t been run for 20 years by the time I heard of it in 2010. It was moved to my shop in Fort Collins in March, 2011.  Two weeks ago I inked up the press and flawlessly hand fed 20 newsprint sheets for a letterpress poster through the press. It took one minute, running at 1200 impressions per hour.  

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Raising the beast out of its cave

I found the little town in northeast Iowa easy enough, but had some difficulty finding the gravel road that led into the country, to the old farmhouse of the Stromberg family, where my printing press awaited.  

The weather-worn old farmer was sitting in his truck, waiting for me. The surrounding fields were chest high with corn, and the sturdy old family house was getting rough around the edges – a few broken windows, screen door flapping in the wind, tumbleweeds slapped against the barn. 

“We don’t live out here no more,” he said. “Grandpa was the printer, over in Elkader, and after he retired he kept a little shop in the cellar.”

We went around back, and he opened the cellar doors – old-style double doors that revealed concrete steps going down under the house. It was a dank, cobwebby place. Engine parts and tools were piled against the wall. Boxes and old furniture were stacked everywhere. Tom pulled a chain and a bare bulb illuminated the space.

“It’s over here,” he said, and shoved a dresser out of the way. Back in the corner, the iron beast with its big flywheel sat forlornly.

“Is this where he did his printing?” I asked.

“Yup. I can remember Grandpa workin’ down here, and all those little metal pieces of type. He did the church announcements and other things - birthdays and flyers fer raffles and what not.”

“Any other old printing stuff around?”

“Let’s see … this cabinet is part of it.” He pulled a tarp off a wooden cabinet and opened some drawers. Ding bats and type, wood furniture. Despite the tarp, a leaky window had dripped for decades and damaged one of the sides of the cabinet. But is was old hard wood, and still sturdy.

Lingering over the family treasures, the old guy seemed to dwell on old memories. Then he blurted, “Well, we got some type, some ruler things and gizmos here … whatever was for the printer is yours.”

Tom and I hauled the cabinet out of the basement ourselves – nine steps up, and tipped it into my pickup. I slid it toward the cab and roped it down.

Now I faced the main dilemma – moving the beast. I estimated it weighed about 1200 pounds. One strategy is to take it apart, which is not advisable due the likelihood of stuck gears and stubborn bolts. All advice was to definitely not fiddle with it, haul it straight out, if possible, and onto your truck.

I got my winch, chains, boards and rollers from my truck and started clearing a path to the stairs. Metal pipes would serve as rollers. Luckily it was already bolted to hard wood 2 x 4s. A heavy duty pry bar could be wedged under one of the leg supports, to lift the beast just high enough the get one of the rollers in on the corner. Then the other corner. Then the backside too. Once on rollers, you could push it pretty easy.

At the stairs, I chained it around and tied my winch around a tree outside. Then, downstairs, I pried the beast up to the first stair, yelling to Tom to crank the winch. We did this till it was angled up onto the stairs’ incline, tipping a bit precariously but in position. I climbed over and out the cellar, and slowly cranked the winch, one inch at a time. I climbed back into the cellar, and out again, back and forth, making sure it was clearing the steps. One false move, or broken chain, and its cast iron limbs would be shattered. As rain clouds blossomed and distant thunder threatened ominously, the iron beast rose slowly, slowly emerging from its cave of some sixty years.

An Old Style Gordon, 8 x 12 chase size, never motorized, with intact foot treadle. Nice. Complete, no breaks or welds. With the V-shape throw-off arm, so an early model. Probably about 1890. Letterpress printing, a dying art, replaced by offset in 50s, and computer laser printing in the 90s. But it was real printing, with metal type, impressing the page with the inked type, just like Gutenberg did over half a millennia ago in the 1450s.

Outside, the second challenge became apparent: Hoisting it up my wooden ramp into my pickup. “Wait a minute,” Tom said, and disappeared into the barn. A few minutes later a trench digger tractor emerged, with a big dump bucket on the front. “I see what you have in mind,” I said. “Let’s chain it up!”

Together, we strategically wrapped chains around the press and used the tractor’s bucket arms to lift the beast straight off the ground. I quickly back my pickup truck under it. Tom smiled at his ingenuity as he lowered it onto the bed. The rest was a mess of compression straps and ropes, a chore that always took me forever and made me feel like one of the Three Stooges, unraveling and retying endless knots. As the rain started plunking down, I bungeed a tarp all the way around. Wouldn’t want the beast to rust before we got home.

A couple hours of work, a few scraped knuckles, and it was mine. And $100. Tom had disappeared into the house. When he finally returned he handed me a book. A big old ATF type specimen book.

“Thanks, Tom,” I said.

“I was gonna scrap it,” he said. “But I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Grandpa spent a lot of time with that machine. So I’m glad I found someone to use it.”

I waved as I pulled slowly away, with a 15-hour drive in front of me. Yeah, these old machines were discarded and scrapped wholesale in the 70s. But you still find a few around. Thank God for guys like Tom (and Craigslist), who make an effort to get them placed in caring hands. At 1200 pounds, he could have gotten $200 at the scrapper for it. ‘Course, you’d still have to haul that big old beautiful beast out of its cave. This is one beast that will live again, doing what it was born to do – press inked metal into paper and make books. Books that in all likelihood will far outlast digital printing.

(c) John Major Jenkins. Read more about his work: http://alignment2012.com/OakRootPress.html

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Heavy Metal: The Campbell Century Pony Press

The following is the first of a series of blogs by John Major Jenkins about the finding and restoration of disappearing presses.

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, these big cylinder printing presses cranked out newspapers in towns and cities across the country. They weighed several tons and once in place, they were bound to stay there until it was time to haul them away to the scrap yard. Today, there are only a few of these presses surviving. Even if the desire to save a big old press exists among letterpress enthusiasts, the expense and difficulty of moving it all too often ends up with the same result — off to the scrap yard it goes. This was sadly the case just recently, when two flatbed Miehle presses from Globe Printing in Baltimore could not be saved.

The legacy of printing in America — which paralleled the rise of industry and steel manufacturing, followed by the Detroit car-making boom — is fast becoming a fading echo, a legend of when America produced lasting things of quality. It’s a testimony to solid engineering, design, and attention to quality, that many of the old Chandler & Price platen presses are still around today. They’re lighter than the big cylinder machines, and because of that many of those are still to be found in hobby shops. But a big four-ton beast like the Campbell newspaper press? What are the chances of one of these 19th-century Goliaths making it into the 21st century? Well, not very good. When I heard of one in a garage near Denver, I had to investigate…

The Campbell Printing & Manufacturing Company produced presses as far back as the 1880s. Its “Century Pony” press came in three sizes. The one I found is the smallest, with a printing area of 22” x 34”. Advertised as a “book press” capable of consistent registration over long runs, it could also be used to print the standard newspaper sheet. The Century Pony presses were made between 1894 and 1905, with the bulk of production on the front end of that timeline. The design is related to the Campbell Country Cylinder press of the 1880s, which was hand cranked. No serial numbers can be found on the press for precise dating, but I estimate that it could date to around 1897-1900, because I found an old counter in a box with a patent date of 1897. Production always trailed off toward the end of a model’s lifespan, so very few presses were probably made after 1900. After all, it was promoted as the “Century” press, a turn-of-the-century wonder. In any case, the model was designed in the 19th century.

And so it came to pass. With the help of my friend Don Hildred, we moved the press from Arvada to my shop in Fort Collins in March of 2011. It was a tight squeeze getting it situated in my shop, Oak Root Press. Working on various issues, such as finding a new motor, it took over a year to get it running and do some test prints. I was told that, in the 1980s, it was used to print posters for the Lakeside Amusement Park in Denver. It is the highlight of any visit to my shop, and was featured in a “Forgotten Fort Collins” article in 2013. I know of only two other Campbell Century Pony presses in the United States, and both of those are non-operating, and one of them is soon to be scrapped. I have printed large format posters and news-sheet tests, and plan on producing a one-sheet newspaper called The Poudre Valley Letterpress Times.

Want to know more? Go to http://alignment2012.com/OakRootPress.html

 

 

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