So if you follow me on twitter, you may have noticed me tweeting a lot about letterpress recently. If you follow closely, you might've heard mention that on Dec. 28th, Lisa and I became the accidental owners of our own Baltimore[an] 6x8 tabletop platen press. This is beyond amazing. It's an astounding little device that hasn't been manufactured since the first half of the last century, though other companies continued making presses like this till the 70s. So if yer nay on twitter-world, now you might learn about my latest obsession (though really it's just resurfaced... I wanted one of these in college).
The press is so, so pretty. And heavy-- 128 lbs. And dirty-- inkstained (as it damn well ought to be). Though you might need to be an odd one to appreciate antique cast iron that needs a cleaning as "pretty", I dunno. Not sure when this particular press was cast, as the maker's mark is really hard to read... but an interesting tidbit of history: H.L. Mencken, Baltimore's famous journalist, learned to print on one of these that his father bought him during highschool. I'll find the link to that article shortly, if I can.
So... accidental ownership. This is 'cause I made an absurdly low bid on an eBay auction for this press, completely not expecting to win (check out ebay's press listings... they sell between 800 and 1800 dollars). So... I bid... and no one countered me. I was working on a design project and then suddenly saw the email notifier ping me with "You have won..." but the only thing I was bidding on was something impossible. Or so I thought! Ecstatic joy and amazement when I realized I'd actually got the dang thing.
After a couple days of communication with the seller, (who lived in Pittsburgh, thank the fates) Lisa and I drove out to western PA to pick up the iron beast. Shipping is iffy on cast iron. Tends to crack. And it costs more than gas did to just drive out and get it. ; )
It blizzarded on us during the 5 hour trip out and the longer night drive home, though. Appalachians, you are so awesome, but you pick the damnedest times to drop snow.
And, photos, since it DID happen:
After a week of this in its packing box, we finally sat down the other night and did the onerous "packing peanut shuffle" and set the press free, dusted it off, and checked out the parts to all be there and workin'. Which they are! I kept finding lead type among the peanuts, which was odd, considering the type it came with was in another box altogether. Um, that's the other thing: it came with a huge amount of type, photoplates and leading. 2 chases, a set of quoins and keys, and 4 rollers that need serious replacement, which thankfully, can be made new for cheap-ish.
I cannot WAIT to start printing!