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2015 Conference: Printing on the Hand Press & Beyond articles:

Printing as Pragmatic Choice

Sara T. Sauers


Printing room at Dun Emer Press ca. 1904. (Courtesy Trinity College)


Kathleen Walkup: “Pulling the Devil by the Tail: Elizabeth Corbet Yeats’ Cuala Press”  ¶ Richard Mathews: “Frederic Goudy and the American Hands-on Hand Press Tradition”

3 pm saturday, october 24 ⋅ track 1

Kathy Walkup began by showing an iconic photograph in the history of printing. Taken in Ireland at the Dun Emer Press in 1903, it shows Elizabeth Corbet “Lolly” Yeats, dressed in a full-length smock, at work at an Albion hand press. Two other similarly dressed women share the print shop, one preparing ink and the other sitting at a table in the foreground, checking proofs. Walkup pointed out that while this image is often seen as an example of genteel ladies keeping themselves occupied with a “suitable” art, this interpretation is far from the truth. Elizabeth Yeats was no hobby printer. She and her siblings W.B., Jack, and Susan Mary “Lily” Yeats, were called upon to support themselves and their father, the Irish painter John Butler Yeats, who failed to provide for his family adequately with his portrait painting.  [Read more]

Cylinders Alive!

Elizabeth Haven Hawley

1859 Hoe

The 1862 Hoe cylinder press at Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto. (Stephen Sword)


Stephen Sword: “Skills and Mechanization: The Transition from Hand Press to Cylinder” ¶ Jeff Pulaski: “After the Iron Press: The Grasshopper”

 1:30 pm saturday, october 24 ⋅  track 2

Technological change has no natural imperative, regardless of how logical such shifts might seem in hindsight. The time and place must provide a foothold, with securement facilitated rather than assured. Presentations by Stephen Sword and Jeff Pulaski conveyed a firm sense of the role of flesh-and-blood printers in the adoption of cylinder and country press designs in the nineteenth century.  [Read more]

Bringing Back the Old Ways

Elizabeth Haven Hawley


Position of the forme for the first pull, tympans and frisket omitted for clarity.

Richard Lawrence: “A New Wooden Press for Everyone to Try: The Dürer Press”  ¶ Stan Nelson: “Printer’s Ink Balls: Their History and Use” 

10:45 am saturday, october 24 ⋅ track 2

Alix Christie’s keynote lecture on her book Gutenberg’s Apprentice whet the appetite of conference attendees for clues about the mysteries of the master’s craft in its early years, and papers by Richard Lawrence and Stan Nelson did not disappoint. Their talks about the reconstruction of a historically accurate wooden press with wooden screw and the evolution of ink ball design offered superb details for those with a close interest in printing practices and experiential education. [Read more]

Printing as Museum Program

Joshua Steward

The Museum of Printing in Massachusetts introduces letterpress and other printing crafts to people of all ages while maintaining its primary mission of preserving the rich history of the graphic arts.

The Museum of Printing in Massachusetts introduces letterpress and other printing crafts to people of all ages while maintaining its primary mission of preserving the rich history of the graphic arts. (Frank Romano)


David Damico: “Printing and Interpreting at the Genesee Country Village Living History Museum on a 19th Century Washington Iron Handpress”  ¶ Frank Romano: “Letterpress Workshops at the Museum of Printing in North Andover, MA”

3 pm saturday, october 24 ⋅ track 3 

Frank Romano  began his session by showing a humorous video of the “Short History of Printing,” in which Romano himself has been green-screened into paintings and early engravings portraying craftsmen and printers at work—including a stiff and rather one-sided conversation with a “flat” Gutenberg. [Read more]

Design Students Get Interactive

Katherine M. Ruffin


RIT students clean, identify and print a wood typeface for the Cary Collections Adopt-a-Font Program (Nancy Bernardo).


Nancy Bernardo & Kelly Murdoch-Kitt: “Adopt-a-Font Condensed” ¶ Art Seto: “Bootstrapping a New Student-Initiated Letterpress Club: A Case Study” ¶ Rob Saunders: “Inspiring Young Designers with Letterpress Artifacts”

1:30 pm saturday, october 24 ⋅ track 3

These three presentations focused on the theme of making impressions through teaching. In each case, the speakers presented examples of ways in which they have engaged students and designers directly with materials and processes related to printing history. The speakers illustrated APHA’s mission in action; it is an organization that “encourages the study of the history of printing and related arts and crafts.”  [Read more]

Research Methods New and Old

Nina Schneider


At left: digitized paragraph of Secret pour ouvrir la porte de Paradis en mourant, 1623, selected and its characters segmented and classified as ascender/descender and x-height, using pattern recognition techniques. (Charles Bigelow and Richard Zanibbi)


Charles A. Bigelow & Richard Zanibbi: “Analysis Of Typographical Trends In European Printing 1470-1660: Comparison of Automated Methods To Palaeotypographical Approaches” ¶ Philip Weimerskirch: Some Little-Known Sources for the History of Early American Printing Presses” 

10:45 am saturday, october 24 ⋅ track 1

Illustrated with numerous graphs, charts, and statistics, Chuck Bigelow presented current research on typographical trends he has been analyzing with Richard Zanibbi. Encompassing historiography, culturomics (the study of cultural trends through quantitative analysis of digitized texts), and the recent discipline of vision science. For their purposes, vision was equated with reading: layout, type size, and type style, the partners looked at 22,000 digitized books ranging in date from the fifteenth- to the seventeenth centuries.  [Read more]

A Most Excellent Monotype Adventure

Nina Schneider


Monotype ornaments ready to sell. (Nina Schneider)


A full day of Monotype type casting demonstrations at Bixler Press & Letterfoundry

9 am-4 pm thursday, october 22

Twenty of us piled into a van for the 90 minute drive from Rochester through rolling hills and magnificent autumn foliage to the town of Skaneateles, on the northern shore of the Finger Lake for which it’s named. There, Michael and Winifred Bixler welcomed us into their shop and home where we met up with seven more attendees who had arranged their own transportation. Michael began by giving us a brief history of Monotype development in America and England, and then telling us about the Bixler Letterfoundry. Established in 1968 with the purchase of their first Monotype machine, the Bixlers built up their business with an extensive inventory of Monotype faces, the ability to fulfill large orders, and timely delivery.  [Read more]

All Things Vignelli

Keelin Burrows


Entrance to the Vignelli Center. (All photos Keelin Burrows)


Tour of the Vignelli Center for Design Studies
Rochester Institute of Technology

1 pm friday, october 23

Located on the RIT campus, the Vignelli Center for Design Studies, is the repository for the archives of husband and wife design team, Massimo and Lella Vignelli. Opened in 2010, the center serves as an exhibition and study space available to students and the general public. The collection largely came to the university due to the efforts of Roger Remington, the Massimo and Lella Vignelli Distinguished Professor of Design at RIT, who honored the Vignellis’ wish to have their collection displayed and used as a teaching tool. [Read more]

Vigoda Press Performance & Lecture

Seth Gottlieb


Gwido Zlatkes and Ann Frenkel fill the Reading Room of the Cary Graphic Arts Collection with words and music. (Seth Gottlieb)


Gwido Zlatkes & Ann Frenkel: “A Pushmi-pullyu: The Collaborative Multidisciplinary Work Process at Vigoda Press”

6 pm thursday, october 22

The lecture and musical performance by Gwido Zlatkes and Ann Frenkel was a wonderful way to end the first day of the annual conference. In their presentation spanning just over an hour and a half, they provided insights into the history and function of their Vigoda Press. Gwido, originally from Poland, met Ann while she was working in a university library. Primarily, the pair publishes original translations of Polish poetry set to original scores. The two also perform their own experimental theater pieces. For each book presented, Gwido discussed the original writer and his translation of the piece, after which Ann performed one of her original compositions.  [Read more]

Two Tales of Village Printers

John G. Henry


Left, Alice and Elbert Hubbard at the hand press. Right, girl stitching at sewing frame. (Courtesy The Roycroft Campus Corporation)


Alan Nowicki: “The (Re)Birth of Roycroft Printing” ¶ Julie Mellby: “Lew Ney: Greenwich Village Printer”

3 pm saturday, october 24 ⋅ track 1

Alan Nowicki began his presentation by discussing Roycroft Shops founder, Elbert Hubbard, who had been a salesman and the innovative marketing manager for the Larkin Company, a soap manufacturer in Buffalo, New York. He retired in 1892 after traveling to England and visiting the Kelmscott Press. While there is no historical record of a meeting with its renowned proprietor William Morris, Hubbard was enamored of the work done at the press. [Read more]