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Zenab Bastawala—Type Specimens: A Microscopic View of Assorted Metal Sorts During Colonial India

George Barnum

Electro block from Kikabhai Type Specimen, Bombay, 1883. (Zenab Bastawala)

Fri. Nov. 6 | What is more enticing, more alluring than catalogs? Who among us hasn’t mesmerized by the wonders in vintage printing catalogs and type specimen books?   [Read more]

Paula Scher—Keynote Presentation

George Barnum

Caption placeholder: poster for Shakespeare in the Park (Paula Scher)

Thur., Nov. 5 | Paula Scher’s name and visual style as a renowned graphic designer may be more familiar to other attendees of the 2020 APHA/Hamilton Wood Type Museum Awayzgoose than they were to me. But her work over the last quarter-century for New York’s Public Theater and Shakespeare in the Park are immediately identifiable with their stark, uncompromising emphasis on typography. As she said, the identity she developed for the Public Theater “became New York.” [Read more]

Panel Discussion—Jim Hamilton, Rob Saunders, Jim Moran, Sandro Berra, Mark Barbour: The Future of the Printing Museum

George Barnum

Clockwise from top left: Sandro Berra, Jim Hamilton, Jim Moran, Rob Saunders, and Mark Barbour.

Sat., Nov. 7 | This distinguished panel discussed the wide variety of approaches to preserving the history and craft of printing. Each panelist gave an introduction to his institution, followed by a discussion led by Jim Hamilton. [Read more]

Panel Discussion: Dox Thrash Preservation Initiative

George Barnum

Dox Thrash House

Fri., Nov. 6 | In their presentation, Maya Thomas, Dana Rice, and Chris Mulford spoke about their effort to preserve the home of Dox Thrash (1893–1965), an African American printmaker, painter, and activist. He was a key figure in the vibrant Black arts community that developed in the Sharswood section of Philadelphia between the World Wars. In addition to his own highly-regarded work, he became known as a mentor for younger artists. [Read more]

A Linotyper for Life

George Barnum

Left: The Model 5 Linotype and Cpl. Jimmie Kreiter in Pneumonia Hollow, Chaumont, France. (GPO 20101229029) Right: Jimmie Kreiter and the General Pershing Linotype at GPO, 1950s. (GPO 20101229028)

A few days before the U.S. Government Printing Office History Exhibit opened in 2011, one of our maintenance supervisors brought a man whom he introduced as his father in to the new main room of the exhibit area, looking concerned.  [Read more]

About Thumb Indexes

George Barnum

Indexing machines, ca. 1905. (Courtesy US GPO)

The following query appeared on this site recently:

Please, I would like to know the term used for the “thumb indents” found in older hardbound dictionaries, one at the start of each new letter. Also, was making these indents considered part of the binding process, and how was it accomplished?  [Read more]

Gordon’s Patent Model Finds New Home

George Barnum

Gordon’s US Patent model for a platen job press mounted on the base of the case made by GPO carpenters. (GPO)

On Wednesday, March 15, 2017, Frank Romano, President of the Museum of Printing in Haverhill, Massachusetts, visited the Government Publishing Office in Washington to transport an 1874 U.S patent model of a platen printing press which GPO is lending to the museum. APHA’s Chesapeake Chapter sponsored a “going-away party” in GPO’s Visitor Center at which GPO Director Davita Vance-Cooks and Deputy Director James Bradley formally turned over the model to Romano. The model was prepared for transport to the museum by cabinetmaker John Beckel of the GPO Carpenter Shop, who constructed a specially fitted case for the model to travel in.  [Read more]

Unfortunate Mystics

George Barnum

Scribe re-lettering a Torah scroll to keep it kosher. (Tom Kilpatrick)

Scribe re-lettering a Torah scroll to keep it kosher. (Tom Kilpatrick)


9:30-11:00 am  saturday, october 8

Myra Mossman: Sacred Scribes, Profane Publishers, Unfortunate Mystics ♣  Karen Wahl: Printing Developments in Malleus Malificarum “The Witches’ Hammer” ♣  Grendl Löfkvist: The Devil is in the Details: Conjuring the Spirit of the Book (The Challenges involved in printing a 21st Century Grimoire)

This panel featured three presentations that connect the gritty practicalities of the printer’s craft with the mystical effects and outcomes that printed books can enable or engender.  [Read more]

2016 APHA Conference Keynote Address

George Barnum

Rick Jay thrills the audience with his swap book. (Paul Moxon)

Rick Jay thrills the audience at the Huntington Library with his “blow book” while Alan Jutzi looks on. (Paul Moxon)


5:30-6:30 pm friday, october 7

Collecting the Enigmatic: Ricky Jay in conversation with Alan Jutzi

Every person who registered for this year’s APHA conference “The Black Art & Printer’s Devils : The Magic, Mysticism, and Wonders of Printing History” undoubtedly shared a least one (or several) moments of thinking, “Well, what’s this going to be like?” when looking over the program. The speakers presented a rich menu of surprises and enticements. And leading that bill of surprises was the keynote speaker on Friday evening, October 7, the bibliophile, scholar and performer, Ricky Jay. [Read more]

GPO’s Star Linotype

George Barnum


The Government Publishing Office in Washington D.C. recently acquired two original news photographs of its most famous and beloved Linotype.

The machine, a Model 5, serial no. 14168R, shipped in June, 1910, to Pierre Lafitte & Co., a Paris agent, and was purchased by a French printing firm. Had it not been one of two requisitioned for the American Expeditionary Force by Major W.W. Kirby seven years later, the machine might well have ended its life in the same obscurity shared by many of its Brooklyn-built brethren.  [Read more]