Monday, November 23, 2009

Saturday, February 05, 2005

source for books on books, typography, printing history
Oak Knoll Books
310 Delaware Street, New Castle DE 19720
phone 302-328-7232 — fax 302-328-7274

check our website for pictures & complete list
“Don the Mat Man”
We are reconditioning the following Vandercook presses: Universal I manual; Universal I full power; SP15; SP25; Vandercook 325. We also have a beautiful 15x20 Grafix repro press with adjustable bed ready to go. We have also just rescued 12,000 pounds of brand new Stephenson, Blake foundry type still in original packages from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn NY. Lists will be on our website soon.
die jackets & chases
hot foil stampers
book presses
Heidelberg 15x20
Heidelberg 10x15
Heidelberg 13x18
Challenge 5 head drill
Challenge 3 head drill
Ludlow machines & fonts
collators & folders
11,000 Ludlow fonts
7,000 Linotype fonts 3,500 Monotype fonts
board shears 58″ & 44″ Heidelberg
10x15 & 13x18
hand paper cutters
Vandercook presses
(various models)
foundry & wood type
specializing in letterpress, bindery & hot metal equipment
numbering machines—furniture—quoins
slug cutters—spacing—rule—rollers—chases
120 Midwest Road Unit 5, Scarborough,
Ontario M1P 3B2 Canada
416-751-5944 — fax 416-751-5413
top prices for plants or single items—cash paid on the spot
all kinds of printing and collectibles, engravings, type, cabinets, etc

ATF book review

book review Fall of ATF
by Bob Manson
Lately I’ve been reading many typography-related books, and I’d like to offer a few reviews of the more notable ones. Fall of ATF is quite new, and it seems an appropriate subject for a first try — especially as I’m sure many readers aren’t aware of it yet.
Whenever I see the name ATF, I can’t help but wonder how either the BATF (Bureau of Alky, Terbaccy and Fer-Gosh-Sakes-Don’t-Shoot-Meey) or AMF got into the typography business. I might buy the idea of lead bullets being related to lead type, and I’m sure there’s some tie-in between bowling and printing — yet it’s not obvious how one could profitably make both pin setting machines and metal type in the same building. (In my defence, given today’s overly amalgamated world it’s faintly possible AMF once had a font division.)
Seriously, there’s at least one close tie between the two industries: at one time they were both extremely labor-intensive. Human pinsetters have gone the way of printers who hand-set type. Bowling pins and balls were once laboriously handmade, just as type was engraved and cast by hand. The manufacture of pins and balls was seen as an art, similar to the way the making of type was and is greatly respected.
The one major difference is, you can’t print very well with a bowling ball and I’ve never heard of “throwing type” as a sport.
Fall of ATF: A Seri-Comedic Tragedy is Theo Rehak’s account (taken from his diaries) of the last years of American Type Foundry’s existence, and his observations on how their management relentlessly drove their business into bankruptcy.
ATF was once the largest manufacturer of cast type in the world; in their peak years they employed over 2,000 workers and measured their yearly output in the millions of tons. During Rehak’s tenure they had all of 26 employees including the office staff. I’d randomly guess that nowadays less than 1,000 pounds of type are cast every year, the once seemingly-endless need supplanted by less expensive and more versatile Linotype/Monotype, photo-typesetting, laser printing, and related technologies. To wit (lamely and regretfully), “It’s dead, Jim.”
The book is aptly titled, as I found myself alternating between laughter, sadness, and “yeah, I’ve been there” feelings. His experience fits what one would expect from a small closed union shop, as he was treated with distrust and suspicion the entire time. He also makes it quite clear few of the people working there had any genuine interest in typography, or even making money. Apparently it was just something to do (or not do) until they inevitably went out of business.
(That’s not including the employee who later turned to robbing banks as a way to support his cocaine habit. I’d say he was very interested in making money.)
Rehak was doing something suspicious: he had a sincere interest in learning how to cast type, and was setting up his own type foundry with ATF’s discarded equipment (and he recounts a few amusing adventures of unauthorized after-hours plant tours). Unusual behavior at a time when everyone else was striving to get out. He seems to have been successful, because Dale Guild Type Foundry is still around and Rehak’s work is highly regarded by many.
It’s an engrossing and well-written story, and I finished it in one sitting. The book offers several interesting insights into the demise of the metal type business and a brief description of ATF’s glory years, but in no way is it a complete historical overview of ATF. It is precisely what it claims to be, a story of ATF’s last ten years and the author’s experiences while working there. I suspect his views are at least a little biased, so everything is to be taken with a pinch of salt. (I deny any knowledge of the politics behind the few remaining artisans in the craft—and I honestly don’t want to know.)
He expressed a desire to wait until most of the participants had passed away before saying anything, and given how sordid a story it is I can’t blame him. His explanation of what eventually happened to the Lanston/American Monotype equipment and matrices is disgusting, the account of Kingsley’s efforts to digitize type laughably familiar, and I get the palpable impression this was an industry sometimes obsessed far more with greed than honesty… but we can’t even give the ATF management that much credit, as they appear much more inept than evil.
I certainly enjoyed it. It may be a bit esoteric for some, yet I found it to be a personal and very human story which non-typenerds could easily relate to. It reminded me all too strongly of my experiences working at a self-doomed computer company in the early 90s: humorous in retrospect, but at the time frustrating and deeply depressing. I could even identify some of the same employees, just with different names, faces and occupations. The one universal in any field is incompetence.
It’s not a cheap book, no surprise as it was privately printed. It’s nicely bound in a sturdy dark green cloth with gold embossed lettering, printed on quality paper, good page layout, beautiful endpages, and easily readable. A definite collectors item; one of the highest quality modern books I’ve purchased in a long while.
Fall of ATF is available from Oak Knoll Books or from the author at Dale Guild Type Foundry. Also by Theo Rehak: Practical Typecasting
Fall of ATF by Theo Rehak, designed by Jerry Kelly. size: 5½x9, pages 112, text: Baskerville Roman, paper: Cougar Opaque 70#, full green cloth, gold-stamped spine, color dust jacket, duotone images, publication date: 6 September 2004, price $35, order from: Dale Guild Type Foundry,
4621 Route 9 North, Howell NJ 07731 ——

Life in the Back Shop - weekly newspaper experiences

Life in the Back Shop
Is a book by Robert M Shaw about life in back shops of weekly newspapers told by printers who worked in those back shops during the first six decades of the last century. The story covers the period from the arrival of Linotype machines, about 1900, to their departure in the mid-sixties when offset printing and computerized typesetting came on the scene.
Review will appear in January issue of The Printer.
Life In The Back Shop is $19.95, plus $3.30 for mailing & handling, published by Superior Letterpress, Box 205, Cornucopia WI, 54827. 186 pages, 42 photos of contributing printers & early printing shops, and 13 other illustrations.

NA Graphics ATF type available for sale

ATF type cast by Theo Rehak for sale by NA Graphics

Garamond 459 Roman 10, 12, 14, 16 point; Garamond 460 Italic 10 and 14 point; Goudy Oldstyle Roman 12 and 14 point; Bulfinch Oldstyle 24 caps only, 18, and 12 point to be fonted; Murray Hill Bold 18 point; Bulmer Roman 18 point, with either 14 or 24 next to be cast. We have the Italic mats; Munder Venezian 12 point; Engravers Roman 24 point, to be fonted. We have all the balance of these mats. Ronaldson Oldstyle Italic to be fonted; E-13-B--by the 6 inch sorts line. Theo casts both the lining and old style figures, any accented characters, small caps, and special characters if the mats still exist and are part of that particular font of matrices. We can do all the French accents in 14 point Goudy Oldstyle as an example. In the works—Civilite (18 & 24 point), News Gothic (18 only from reworked Kingsley mats), Munder Venezian 18, & what ever else is wanted in sufficient quantity where mats exist & the point sizes do not exceed 24.
NA Graphics, Box 467— Silverton CO 81433—call 970-387-0212—fax 970-387-0127—

Tarheel composition rollers

original composition letterpress rollers and brayer rollers cast
on your cores or our cores shipped in wooden storage boxes reasonably priced
2156 Lewisville Clemmons Road, P O Box 773 — Clemmons NC 27012
call 336-766-9823 — fax 336-766-4286 --

type moulds

Type moulds of every description are now made & sold by Atelier Press & Typefoundry
in a variety of historic patterns--prices, photographs, & specifications are available
Stan Nelson, 10310 Newgate Court, Ellicott City MD 21042
call 410-461-2749—

Friday, October 01, 2004

ATF - auction of the century

Still available
Greg Walter’s book about the auction of ATF. 45 pages, printed letterpress and hardbound in green cloth. $55 plus $4 shipping Phillip Driscoll, 135 East Church Street, Clinton MI 49236.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Richardson's quest

Richardson is researching Luker
Am researching Leslie G Luker who worked for Adana 40 or 50 years ago (and probably even earlier than that). Luker ran a large colour printing business in south-west London. His firm was based in Links Road, SW17. Luker is best known to British hobby printers as author of the three “official” Adana books on how to print by letterpress. (I suppose he was the UK’s ‘Ben Lieberman’). Phyllis Richardson, who managed the main Adana shop in Twickenham recalls that Leslie spent 3 months behind the counter at the Church Street headquarters in the late 1950s, quizzing customers on the sort of work they were doing and checking what was available in Adana’s stock lists. Some of the content of his books was based upon the feedback he received.
Long before Leslie’s first Adana hardback, he was a consultant on the company’s long-running Printcraft magazine and penned many articles for that organ.
I would very much like to hear from anyone who has information on Leslie, or knows of his surviving family. The end product will hopefully be an article for Small Printer in the UK.
Bob Richardson, 48 Fort Road, Northolt, Middlesex, UB5 5HH U K

Shipley's type foundry

birth of Sky Shipley’s
Skyline Typefoundry

In January, American Amateur Journal announced a new type foundry in the making under ownership of one Sky Shipley (aka American Amateur Press Association President Shipley). The article stated that the plan was to offer type for sale this spring. The new foundry held true to its schedule.
Sky Shipley and Skyline Type Foundry had its grand opening and open house on 27 June. It was held during Amalgamated Printers’ Association Wayzgoose in St Louis that weekend.
While the foundry is officially open for business, Sky says that he is only casting on a small scale and that there is still a great deal to be done in getting the tired, worn out machinery up and running. He expects it will still be a couple of years before the foundry is at its full potential.
Marketing Skyline type will be unlike most foundries of old or in fact, those few still around today. He does not plan to have a lot of stock on the shelf, but intends to cast to meet the specific needs of a customer. There will be no specimen book.
Sky says his immediate plan is to cast one new font or border each month and also to solicit custom orders. He does expect to have a web site up in the future.
Starting a type foundry is no piece of cake and Sky said his biggest challenge has been running around the country acquiring all this machinery and then repairing and restoring it.
Strange as it may seem, he said the easiest part of starting this new venture has been finding the equipment. As the September AAJ article mentioned, AAPA member Jerry Killie had four casters in storage that were made available to Sky. Another friend of Sky’s, and a fellow typecaster, passed away this year and the opportunity presented itself whereby Sky could purchase his friend’s enormous collection of equipment and matrices. (Sky said he paid more for it than he did for his first house-but, in his words, it was worth it!). Other opportunities came along and he now has 16 Thompsons (most in storage), two material makers and a Linotype.
Along with this equipment, he estimates he has in the range of between 10,000 and 15,000 mats.
The foundry is outfitted with five casters: four Thompsons and a Monotype Material Maker. Sky said that all of these will be operational. He explained that there are different styles of matrices made for different machines. Thus with the Thompsons he can adapt each caster for each of these variations. The Material Maker casts strip material, both spacing and type-high, including decorative rules.
Quite a bit of the new type founder’s time is still devoted to unpacking and organizing everything he has hauled into his new building. He expects to be at this task for some time to come.
To be sure, this is all a labor of love for Sky Shipley. Here’s how Sky sumed up this venture: “It all has been, and is, a terrific thrill for me. The quests in pursuit of hardware, designing and building ‘every man’s dream’ (a shop bigger than the house); tinkering with machines; unpacking, sorting out and inventorying the treasures. And now, fonting up and providing brand-new shiny type to my friends—that’s the icing on the cake.”
For letterpress aficionados, the announcement of a new type foundry is sweet music to their ears—such news is rare these days.
For more information: Sky Shipley, P O Box 5, Highway 96 Mile 6, Kampsville IL 62053 — — phone 618-232-7447.


NAPA is oldest amateur group
National Amateur Press Association is oldest amateur press group in the world. From the first convention in 1876 in Philadelphia to 2003 in Chattanooga TN, this group has been dedicated to furtherance of amateur journalism as a hobby. Although deeply rooted in the “black art” of letterpress printing, all of the associated arts of writing, editing, publishing, and illustration are equally important to NAPA members.
Each month’s bundle of papers, mailed to all members, contain work of printers, some who do not write, and writers and poets, some who also print. Some edit and publish the work of others, leaving the craft of printing to yet others.
The best work of each year is awarded a laureate award to recognize the members’ achievements. Laureates, and honorable mentions, are awarded in these categories: poetry, fiction, history of amateur journalism, editorial comment, miscellaneous prose, art, editing, and printing.
Printing was historically done letterpress, but offset, photocopy, mimeograph, and spirit duplicator have all been used. Today’s bundles often contain journals produced by computer and laser printer. In each case the words and their presentation are the focus, not the technology.
A free three month trial membership is available for those who want to explore the hobby of amateur journalism!
Contact: William E Boys, Secretary-Treasurer, 6507 Westland Drive, Knoxville TN 37919—

seeking hand press data

Seeking hand press data
on common, Washington, Albion, Columbian, Imperial and other presses for inclusion in North American hand press database. All hand presses of any type or age are included; I would like to record every hand press in North America. Although nearly 790 presses have been at least partially recorded, much information is still lacking. If you know of a press, check with me to see if I already have a record of it. I am always looking for help in verifying existing records by visiting, measuring, and photographing presses—Bob Oldham, Ad Lib Press —

Alembic Press

Alembic typecasting
Sunday afternoon open workshops on casting type from Monotype composition & super casters will be 29 September & 17 October.
These informal sessions are for anyone wanting to see or try out Monotype keyboards or casters. Ring 01865 391391—or for details—C M Bolton, Alembic Press, Hyde Farm House, Marcham, Abingdon, Oxford, OX13 6NX England.


School of Visual Concepts
500 Aurora Avenue North, Seattle WA
10-noon tailgate party & equipment swap
noon-4 open studio, gallery exhibition, presentations,
print this year’s keepsake
guest speakers, a printer’s tailgate party
where participants can sell or swap
letterpress equipment,
for more information and to RSVP for tailgate party
Jenny Wilkson 206-623-1560—


Hello out there in the deep space of cyber. This is our first attempt at doing a blog. Hope to hear some response to see if this is being read.
About what we do:

The Printer
only monthly of letterpress news & marketplace
12 pages of closely set material - 11 point Cartier
M J Phillips, 337 Wilson Street, Findlay OH 45840
phone 419-422-4958 — 419-420-9353
$30 1 year—$55 for 2 years—$80 for 3 years
25¢ a word classified — $10 an inch display 27 pica column
new subscribers/renewals get free 25-word classified
city state zip
Ask us for a sample copy