Meet the Presses: Jefferson

A few months ago, we walked into a very dark and cluttered antique store in Tacoma, WA. In true American Pickers fashion, we looked high & low, under things & over things, sifting through boxes and piles of unnameable old things.

After some searching, Brad moved a pile of bicycle wheels aside and found something that made us both gasp. In that odd place, we found an 1880's era Galley Proof Press by the Chandler & Price company (the same company that made our large platen press).

The price was a bit steep, so we walked away from the shop without the press that day. And we both thought about the press... sitting there unused, rusting... for two weeks. We did some research, had a lot of conversations, and eventually returned to the shop to buy the press. It was a tough negotiation - the gentleman really didn't want to sell the press. But we really wanted to buy the press. And at long last, Jefferson (his new name - everything needs a name!) came back to Seattle with us.

Jefferson's new home in our shop.

An illustration of the press from the era.

Some info on the use of a proof press:

To obtain a proof on a galley press, the galley containing the type is placed on the flat bed, the type is inked with a brayer, a sheet of paper is placed on the type, and the roller is run over the face of the type. - Frank S. Henry's Printing for School and Shop, 1917

While these types of presses were initially intended for creating proofs (for checking spelling, etc. - a.k.a. proofreading), we will be using the press for creating posters & art prints. This past weekend, Jefferson had his inaugural run! We did small runs of 2 posters (one designed by us, and one by our good friend Josh Power), specifically designed to maximize the printing area of 25" x 9.5". The designs were carved into large linoleum blocks, hand inked and printed on various paper stocks.

It took some time to figure out the optimal amount of packing, ink, and pressure was required - each press is a new adventure, and has it's own requirements and quirks.

We had a ton of fun printing on Jefferson this weekend, and will definitely be doing lots more projects on him in the future. The posters we printed on Jefferson will be debuting this weekend at the Urban Craft Uprising, with a sneak peek tonight at the First Thursday Art Walk. Come see them, and us!