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Bringhurst Zapfs California

Nina Schneider


(Nina Schneider)

The Book Club of California celebrated its 235th publication with a lecture tour, of sorts, for members and friends up and down the Golden State during the month of May. Robert Bringhurst’s Palatino: The Natural History of a Typeface is an important and elegantly produced book that is as much about the typographer as it is about the typeface. Hosted at the new Hoffmitz Milken Center for Typography at Pasadena’s ArtCenter College of Design, Bringhurst gave an illustrated talk about his book, Hermann Zapf and the typographer’s sixty-year devotion to the Palatino typeface. Spanning the major eras in printing history, Zapf’s compulsion, dictated by his uncompromising attention to detail, resulted in Palatino being designed for foundry type, redesigned for film, and redesigned again for digital typography. Bringhurst’s exploration of these modifications was the impetus for the book and he shared some of the highlights during his lecture. As he explained, he wrote a natural history of a typeface through the life of Hermann Zapf.  [Read more]

Conference Registration is Open

Sara T. Sauers

Depicting Alchemical Process Claudio de Domenico Celentano (Neapolitan, fl. early 17th cen) Gouache on paper  [Book of alchemical formulas] (Naples, 1606), pp. 6-7 950053.123

APHA’s 41st Annual Conference, The Black Art and Printers’ Devils: The Magic, Mysticism, and Wonders of Printing History is now open for registration. The Huntington Library’s new Steven S. Koblik Education and Visitor Center in San Marino, California, will be the main venue. Our Southern California wizards have put together what promises to be a spellbinding program: a keynote featuring the book-collecting sleight-of-hand artist Ricky Jay, enchanting tours, a wonder-full book fair, and captivating presentations that explore printing history through the lens of magic, mysticism, secrecy, spiritualism, animism and alchemy Please join us!

ISO: Morris Arthur Gelfand

Site Visitor

Via the contact form:

Does anyone have a good obituary of Morris Arthur Gelfand (1908-1998) that would give me a sketch of his career? 

Richard M. Candee  

[Read more]

Rare Traditional Chinese Types Rescued

Paul Moxon

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 7.47.28 AM

Screen capture of television news report. Link and translation in post below.

Recent Taiwanese media stories about a letterpress shop for sale on the island have helped preserve an estimated 80,000 traditional Chinese letterpress lead type characters from possible destruction. These particular types are rare due not only to the transition to modern printing technologies but have been since the adoption of simplified Chinese characters following the Communist victory in mainland China.  [Read more]

MIT Students Build a Common Press

Harold Kyle

Printing on the MIT Common Press

An MIT student prints on a press she helped construct at the MIT Open House, April 23, 2016.

A school better known for its high-tech achievements has recently focused its students on building a low-tech wooden common press. Ten Massachusetts Institute of Technology students had the chance in Fall 2016 to participate in 21H.343 “Making Books: The Renaissance and Today,” an interdisciplinary class that integrated studies of history, rare books, and printing press construction.  [Read more]

ISO: De Vinne bindings

Site Visitor

Via the contact form:

I am researching a series of books written by George Sand that were produced as limited editions by The De Vinne Press for George H. Richmond Co. between 1893 and 1897. Contemporary advertising indicates that the books in the set were limited to 750 copies each on Windsor paper. The copy I have of Fadette has a beautiful pictorial cover of a group of iris in gold on black cloth — it is very unusual — as it looks engraved and definitely has raised and sunken portions to it — almost as if the cloth had been carved. I would like to try to find out the method by which this dimensionality in the binding design was achieved as well as who designed the binding. For this, I assume I would have to have access to the De Vinne production records if they still exist.

[Read more]

Printing Bewick

Carl Montford


Progressive proofs by Carl Montford of Bewick’s rooster block, ca 1797.

Printing from Bewick’s block is not only an honor, but also a challenge to get a good print from a block that is not type high, but also wavy, dented and also in need of serious cleaning of dried ink left over from printers past.

For those unfamiliar  with his work, Thomas Bewick  (1753–1828) was an English engraver, illustrator, naturalist and author. He is remembered for the artistic beauty and technical quality of his wood engraving blocks, most of which are depictions of birds and rural life. [Read more]

New England Hand Press Crawl

Seth Gottlieb

The Robert Luist Fowle Press with team mates (from left to right) Daniel Krull, Randall Paulhamus, and Seth Gottlieb.

The Robert Luist Fowle Press with teammates (from left to right) Daniel Krull, Randall Paulhamus, and Seth Gottlieb at the Exeter Historical Society.

This is the third in a series of posts that will appear throughout the year.

The process of researching wooden common presses for the sake of building a historically accurate reconstruction is an intensive one, to say the least. While most college students would have spent their Spring Breaks relaxing and goofing off, some of my teammates and I spent our break traveling through New England visiting printing presses. That’s not to say the trip wasn’t fun, but it was intense. We saw four presses in as many days and as many states. Three were original presses from the early eighteenth century (or possibly the late seventeenth, because the provenance of some isn’t clear), and one was a reconstruction made in 1950 from a design by Ralph Green, an engineer and amateur historian of printing presses.  [Read more]

Editor of Printing History Call for Applications

Katherine M. Ruffin


The American Printing History Association is currently accepting applications for the position of editor of its flagship publication, Printing History. The journal is published in print twice a year. This is a part-time position which pays the editor a stipend of $2500 per issue and has a term limit of five years.  [Read more]

Depictions of Printing in Deaf Periodicals

Pamela Jean Kincheloe


Various stages of the printing process illustrated on the cover of The Silent Worker, May 1922.

An interesting intersection of Deaf history and print history in America took place early in the nineteenth century. As is well documented by scholars Jack Gannon, John Vickrey Van Cleve, Susan Burch, and R.R. Edwards, among others, the story of the “silent,” or “deaf press,” had its modest beginnings in 1836, starting with the Canajoharie Radii (site of the Central New York Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb), a paper printed by a Levi S. Backus, for the benefit of both deaf and hearing readers. The success of this publication led faculty at the American Asylum for the Deaf (Hartford, Connecticut) to start a paper at that school, which later became The American Annals of the Deaf in 1847. The Deaf Mute, out of the North Carolina School for the Deaf, set up shop soon after, in 1849 (Gannon 238-250, Edwards 111-13).  [Read more]