What kind of man would spend his last dime on a heap of moldering obsolete printing equipment while his children run about in burlap smocks? The kind who never met a font of nineteenth century type he didn’t like, that’s who!

I started off in the 1970’s as a hand papermaker and letterpress printer, and somewhere along the way I left it behind as I slid downward into the seamy underworld of editorial illustration. But I never forgot my roots, and in 1994 I picked up a small table top press, and a few fonts of ancient wood type from an old printer in the circus town of Peru, Indiana.

 

 

I thought it might be fun to print a couple of Christmas cards now and then – but I had no interest in becoming a printer again, no sir!

Well, it’s a slippery slope – it wasn’t long before I had accumulated three antique presses, close to 400 fonts of nineteenth century wood type, and three times that much lead type, plus a big pile of miscellaneous rusty, dangerous equipment.
I hand set and hand print a few fun broadsides a year, and a few commercial jobs – letterheads and posters.

I’ve done display typography for book covers, ads, and magazines like Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, Vanity Fair, the New York Times, Biography, and Real Simple.

I also use the presses to print replica period posters and other ephemera for movie props. Although most of my type is 19th century, many people are surprised to discover that they are the original models of a lot of contemporary digital fonts, so not all of my work looks like an old wanted poster.
I don’t print from computer generated type and plastic plates, but from actual hand set type and found cuts and ornaments or metal and hand cut plates– to me there’s no substitute for the real thing. I usually hand print the type on my Vandercook SP20 – a large format flatbed cylinder press that can print a 20x30 sheet. I also have a high speed cylinder press called a Little Giant that can print up to 3000 12x18 sheets an hour. Both presses print beautifully and are capable of extremely tight registration.