We rescued an amazing old press from becoming molten steel as scrap. Help us take 'er out of retirement to printing awesomeness again!
NOTE: Our video will be arriving shortly! We've all been variously under the weather and haven't quite finished editing. Stay tuned for an update on Friday.
A Brief Introduction from Tiffany:
I will admit that while I often found myself daydreaming about owning a letterpress printing press and becoming a printer, I never really intended for things to come together so soon in my life. As a freelance graphic designer by trade, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design, I spent many hours in the print room at the University of Florida over a decade ago, and I loved every minute of it. Had graphic design not worked out so well, I probably would be a printmaker. Well, I suppose in some ways I still am.
Anyway, I was surfing eBay one evening in August of 2011, just to peek at letterpress machines listed on there when I spied one in Virginia. A lovely Chandler & Price New Series 10x15. It was in working order and had been in continuous use since its purchase in 1947, but the print shop had closed down in 2010. The new owners no longer needed the press, and listed the item at what I felt was a fair price … only to see the auction end without a single bid. I didn't really feel my husband Justin and I were in a place to own a press, especially since I had just begun my freelance career, but I felt compelled to contact the owners and ask what they were going to do with the beautiful machine. (Just like I had felt compelled to stay up until 2 in the morning to "watch" the auction end … ahem. You see where I am going with this now, don't you?) Were they going to re-list it? Did they know they might have better luck finding a buyer on Briar Press?
The owners surprised me with their reply: They were going to sell the press for scrap.
I knew then that we were to become proud letterpress owners.
There was no turning back.
So, here is our lovely press. And here is the original purchase receipt that came with it (along with a treasure of original Chandler & Price and Kluge documentation).
According to the serial number, our press was manufactured sometime between 1932 and 1935. We haven't been able to find any history for the first few years of its life after production, but it has spent the bulk of its years, from March 1, 1947 until August of 2011, in the same print shop working hard at making beautiful things. Sometime in its life, it was mostly used for die-cutting instead of printing, but parts of the machine still have hints of ink stains, so it did print at one time.
Our press was purchased in 1947 for $1,750, which included the motor, the Kluge Automatic Feeder, and a few other miscellaneous parts. For your reference, the average price of a new car in 1947 was $1,300 and the average yearly wage was $2,850. A new house was roughly $6,600. So, this printing press was quite an investment! It still is a wonderful investment today!
What You're Funding
The machine is in excellent working order, but needs a few parts: new rollers and trucks, a base for attaching printing plates to, a foot treadle, and basic supplies.
In a world where we are constantly bombarded by textureless perfection—our iPads, our smart phones, our plastic credit cards—the amazing tactile nature of letterpress printing is cause enough for all of us to pause in our busy lives just to … feel. Cotton paper with a rag and a texture, type pressed into its surface, is always enough to make you stop and linger over what you're touching.
We recognize that we all need more invitations to pause—even for just a moment—and enjoy the surprises life brings our way! We believe that letterpress printed work is just that kind of invitation (pun intended). And that is something we hope to encourage with Stubborn Press & Company.
Through beautiful printing of entertaining, slightly geeky, and pretty things, we want more people to pause and enjoy life a little more. We want to create an eco-friendly, local, and sustainable business that contributes creatively to the growing arts community of Lynchburg, Virginia as well as preserve an amazing piece of printmaking history that everyone should at least have an opportunity to see once in their lives. We can't wait to bring our letterpress out of retirement (again?) and offer our printing services to our community, our state, and eventually our world. We want to not only create lovely art pieces, but also offer affordable custom letterpress print work—from wedding stationery to business cards.
Giving Produces More Giving
Your backing of our project will not only be helping us purchase the parts we need, but allowing us to build a small, local business in our town. We're offering an affordable, sustainable service as well as bringing a piece of history back to life. It's our goal to contribute creatively and socially to Lynchburg with our letterpress print shop. Once our business is growing, we'll be opening our studio to classes and art shows. We'll not only be offering a service that no one else offers in Lynchburg (letterpress printing), but we'll be making a point in everything we do to positively impact the culture of our beautiful city.
Below are some examples of work we have already created and printed on other letterpress machines:
Give us a hand in restoring this lovely piece of printmaking history back to it's printing glory days and enjoy some awesome letterpress goodies as a reward.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.