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Thread: Practicing The First Two Amendments!

  1. #1
    Regular Member Dreamer's Avatar
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    Just thought I'd post some pics of the equipment I use to exercise my First Two Amendments. I'll hopefully get some pics of my Para with my two BIG presses later this spring, when I get them moved down here to NC...

    If there are any other printers out there in ODCO land, I'd love to see pics of your presses too!

    The first one is my "small" press, a Kelsey Excelsior 6x10 table-top side-lever platen press. She was made sometime around 1975. The composing stick is a Rouse, from the mid 1950's. The type in the stick is original ATF foundry type, Cloister Black in 24pt, from the late 1930's.

    And y'all already know my Para Ordnance S-14.45...

    It is our cause to dispel the foggy thinking which avoids hard decisions in the delusion that a world of conflict will somehow mysteriously resolve itself into a world of harmony, if we just don't rock the boat or irritate the forces of aggression—and this is hogwash."
    --Barry Goldwater, 1964

  2. #2
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    Four Oaks, North Carolina, USA
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    Well Dreamer, you inspired me to research something tonight. Your press was made when I was 2 years old. To many of us, printing is watching paper come out of an electronic printer. Don't get me wrong, I have seen "how its made" type shows on printing presses such as what is used to run of 1000's of newspapers and such. I have also seen prints made from letter presses such as yours. However, I had no idea what you had in your picture or how it actually worked. I viewed several Youtube videos, the last of which was the best: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iv69kB_e9KY&NR=1

    I must say it is very impressive. Another of those beautiful fading arts that only the most dedicated and appreciative are striving to keep alive.

    Many props to you my friend!

  3. #3
    Regular Member Dreamer's Avatar
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    Yeah, I guess I qualify as a "letterpress geek". I own three presses (the above one is the smallest of the three, weighing in at about 100lbs), and about 1/2 ton of type. I first learned letterpress the "old fashioned way", in an appreticeship, while working for a small "mom and pop" print shop in WV about 10 years ago. I fell in love with it, and then launched into a full-blown obsession...

    My other two presses are a 10x15 Chandler & Price Old Series platen press (it weighs about 850lbs) which was made in 1911, and a Kelly B-Model Cylinder press, which was made sometime around 1922, and weighs about 3000lbs. The C&P has a foot treadle to turn it, but I also have the original GE electric motor, which I have fully restored. I almost never use the motor though, because I like running the treadle. The C&P is fully functional, with 2 sets of new rollers, refinished wood trays, and the original finish (including the factory original gold pinstriping!).

    The Kelly-B is an "automatic" press, with a vacuum system for feeding the paper, and it uses a 220-powered motor. The Kelly will print a 17x23 sheet, and is a REALLY sweet press, but mine needs some restoration work--several of the leather and rubber belts in the paper feed system are dry-rotted and need replaced, and the ink rollers are shot (which are going to cost me about $500 to replace!)

    Here is a YouTube of a Kelly-B in action (not my press, though...)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUQln...97&index=0


    Here is a video of a C&P that looks a lot like mine, running under motor power. (Mine is 3 years younger, and has not been as professionally restored, but it still looks pretty good, and runs like a champ!)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rfo3YfYUnoA

    And here is a video of feeding the paper into and out of a C&P (this one is an 8x10--smaller than mine, but JUST as dangerous!)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEEKmUHkZBA

    And here is a video of a guy running a foot-treadle powered press (like mine, but smaller)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ScWEFUNlj0w&NR=1


    My type is a mixture of vintage old stock (Mostly ATF and BB&S foundry type) and new type from Quaker City Type Foundry in PA, Dale Guild Foundry in NJ, and Sterling Type Foundry in IN. Quaker City is the same foundry that makes the type they use in the print shop at Colonial Williamsburg, and I have a BIG case of Caslon 337 Old Style, complete with the old-style "long S" characters like they use in Williamsburg...

    I've been a graphic designer for over 20 years, and I have literally be in thsi business since the birth of "desktop publishing". The first version of Photoshop I learned to use was "PhotoShop 1", so I know what you mean about thinking that "printing" involves sending a file to a box, where it magically appears on a sheet of paper.

    But there is something much more "real" about letterpress printing. Setting the type is a time-consuming and detail-oriented job. Then I have to oil and ink the press, and lock up the type in a metal fram called a "chase", which goes into the press. Then you start with a stack of clean paper, and turn the press, and slide the paper into the press. When you pull the sheet out with your other hand, it has a freshly-inked image on it, and you have to handle it VERY carefully, because the ink can take several hours to dry depending on the type of ink, paper, and the weather...

    That moment when the very FIRST impression comes out of the press is a true moment of artistic magic. It's a moment of discovery (does this look like how I envisioned it?), a moment of accomplishment (setting type can be maddeningly tedious and time consuming), and a moment of truth (especially when everything works out right--the type, the composition, the ink, the paper).

    And then there is the look and feel of letterpress printed material. Wen you use a really heavy, high-quality printmakers type paper--soemthing like 300gsm Magnani Pescia--and a good ink, like a linseed oil and lamp black based traditional printers ink, it's like you're actually MAKING history each time you pull a print. The letters are pressed INTO the paper, oh so delicately (Any REAL letterpress printer HATES that trendy look where the image is mercilessly pounded deeply in the paper!), and they take on a three-dimensional life that laser printing or inkjet, or even commercial offset printing can never achieve...

    I'll be in WV this weekend getting the rest of my type out of storage, so maybe I'll take some pics of my other presses then. If not, I'll be moving them down here to NC sometime in the next few months, and will have my "studio space" all put together by early summer, and then I will DEFINITELY be taking pics, showing my own interpretation of how I exercise my First Two Amendments...

    I enjoy my firearms, but I LOVE my presses. And "they" will NEVER get either of those things from me. In France, (and Germany) during WWII, they rounded up all the firearms first. Then they went around and smashed all the presses they could find. The French were not all "surrender monkeys" though--especially the printers. They saved some of their presses, and hid them in basements and tunnels, and operated clandestine printing operations throughout the entire war, printing anti-Nazi broadsides and booklets. It's a part of the French Resistance that isn't well known, but as a printer and a 2A believer, the Resistance Printers in France and Germany--particularly the "White Rose Society" which operated at the University of Munich--are people I consider to be my intellectual and artistic fore-fathers, along with the great American Colonial publishers like Ben Franklin and Thomas Paine.

    One of the most powerful things about letterpress is that as long as I have paper, and ink, I can print all I want. I don't need electricity, Internet access, or any sort of high-tech gadgets. I can make my own ink from linseed oil and lamp black. I can even make my own paper if I needed to as long as I have some sort of fiber source (plants, old rags, old paper) and plenty of water. I see letterpress printing as being not only an amazing old-timey skill, and a beautiful art form, but also as one of the ultimate "survival skills" rating in importance up there with the ability to make fire, forage for food, and obtain safe drinking water. Much like my other skills, I hope I never have to use my presses in such a context, but should the unthinkable happen, I know that I can still print, and will gladly take up the banner in the spirit of Franklin

    Anyway, I'll be posting more pics of my other presses soon, and hopefully a few with me actually operating them too! Stay tuned...
    It is our cause to dispel the foggy thinking which avoids hard decisions in the delusion that a world of conflict will somehow mysteriously resolve itself into a world of harmony, if we just don't rock the boat or irritate the forces of aggression—and this is hogwash."
    --Barry Goldwater, 1964

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