Archive for the ‘Letterpress’ Category

swifts cropped smallerWalker Rumble. Swifts: A Nineteenth-Century Printing Hall of Fame.
In twenty years, from the end of the American Civil War until the mid-1880s, a group of printers achieved competence and fame in a manner rarely rivaled in the ranks of labor. These men raced at setting type by hand, and the printing trades called them “Swifts.” By the 1880s, Swifts competed on a tournament circuit, traveling from city to city in much the manner of modern bowlers. They became working-class heroes. The best of them all was a New York Times compositor named George Arensberg. In 1870 in New York, Arensberg (shopmates called him “the Velocipede”) did the impossible when in one hour he cracked a 5,000-letter barrier, typesetting’s Everest.

Swifts: A Nineteenth-Century Printing Hall of Fame comprises twelve small broadsides, each featuring a notable compositor in biographical sketch, period portrait engraving, and charted tournament data. The broadsides measure 6¼”×10½” and are printed in two colors. The collection is hand-set in 14-point Monotype Bembo 270 with Bodoni and Franklin Gothic titling and is printed on a Vandercook 317 letterpress. The paper is Fabriano Ingres Heavyweight. Walker Rumble wrote the text, leaning hard on A Collation of Facts Relative to Fast Typesetting (1887), a book compiled by three of the Swifts: William C. Barnes, Joseph W. McCann, and Alexander Duguid.

Walker Rumble. Swifts II: Another Nineteenth-Century Printing Hall of Fame.
Betting people, many of them  fellow journeymen compositors at the Chicago Tribune, backed Clinton “The Kid” DeJarnatt at the 1886 Chicago National Championship of fast typesetting. Alas, DeJarnatt was nervous and finished last. The Kid’s tale and ten others comprise this second collection of small broadsides. Hand-set in 11-point Monotype Bembo with Franklin Gothic titling. Printed in the summer of 1997 on a Vandercook 317 letterpress. Walker Rumble wrote the text from primary sources. An edition of 50 sets.

odd devices smallerWalker Rumble. Odd Devices: A Catalog of  Typesetting Machines.
Printing presses, papermaking, ink specifications, literacy rates, advertising — by 1890 everything had changed since Gutenberg. And still the printer set type by hand, exactly as he had done it for 400 years. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the Wurttemberg watchmaker Ottmar Mergenthaler gave us the Linotype, which transformed the ancient craft.

But the Linotype had many predecessors. Odd Devices consists of twelve commentaries on antecedents to the “automatic” lettercasters that transformed printing after 1890, the best known of which was Mergenthaler’s Linotype. Reproductions of period engravings accompany each commentary.

A set of 12 broadsides in a handsome handmade container. Limited edition of 45 sets. Each broadside measures 6×15 and is printed in two colors. Hand-set in 14-point Monotype Bembo 270 with Garamond italic titling and is printed on a Vandercook 317 letterpress. The paper is Domestic Etching.

Other broadsides:

Walker Rumble. The Levy–Hudson Race.
A dramatic moment in Chicago’s 1886 National Typesetting Tournament.

Walker Rumble. The Barnes–McCann Race.
A textual slice of the 1885 match race between New York’s best.


Oat City broadsides

Posted: June 6, 2009 in Letterpress

big EJennifer Moxley. Wreath of a Similar Year.
Poem by the author of Imagination Verses.

A medieval monk. Explicit. Expliceat! Ludere scriptor eat.
“It is finished. Let it end! Let the scribe go out to play.” Featuring a large woodblock “E.”

Rumble/Donovan. Iowa Eats.
 Tale and recipe for Hawkeye pea and cheese salad. Text by Rumble, illustration by Donovan.


Posted: June 6, 2009 in Letterpress

carnage croppedWalker Rumble. Carnage: A Gilded Age Birdbook.
A series of entries from a late-nineteenth-century birdbook, with new embellishments. Droll tales, stories from an age that shot at everything. Guaranteed to dismay environmentalists and offend hunters. An edition of 55, measuring 5″×6½”.  Printed in two colors and handbound in hard cover.

A Day in the Park

Posted: June 6, 2009 in Letterpress

akmokMark Andres. A Day in the Park.
Short fiction by the Portland, Oregon, artist and writer. A 16-page, single-signature chapbook measuring 5¼×10½ inches. Illustrated by the author. Printed in two colors throughout and handbound in a soft cover.

ryan cropped3

William Ryan. Not to Make Emptiness a Point of View.

A 32-page, three-signature chapbook of poems by the author of Dr. Excitement’s Elixir of Longevity. Bill Ryan codirects the creative writing program at the University of Louisiana, Monroe. An edition of 200, printed in two colors throughout and handbound in a soft cover. Signed by the author. Line drawings by Glenn Mott.


Fly on the Wall

Posted: June 6, 2009 in Letterpress

fly scan-cropped2 smaller2Dara Wier. Fly on the Wall.
Dara Wier is the author of ten books of poetry, including Reverse Rapture, Hat on a Pond, and Remnants of Hannah. She directs the MFA program in Creative Writing at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

A 20-page chapbook of a single poem, measuring 4¾”×5¼”. Printed in an edition of fifty, each book is numbered and signed by the author. Printed in black and red ink with hand stenciling on each page in yellow. Line drawings throughout by Karen Donovan. The paper is Somerset book, with Fabriano Ingres yellow cover. Single gathering, hand-stitched, and glued into a wraparound soft cover.

Winter on Fifth Avenue

Posted: June 6, 2009 in Letterpress

josh scan-cropped smaller2Josh Russell. Winter on Fifth Avenue, New York.
The poet and novelist Josh Russell writes short prose, factual and imagined, based on photographs. He calls them “snapshot stories.” Winter on Fifth Avenue, New York is such a story. It evokes Alfred Stieglitz’s famous 1893 photograph of wintry Manhattan.

This 20-page chapbook is printed on a Vandercook letterpress in two colors (text in burgundy, original drawings in black). Karen Donovan, the illustrator, hand-stenciled the cover, title page, and two fold-out pages in blue, red, yellow, and orange. The type is Monotype Bembo. The paper is Nideggen, with Canson Mi-Teintes burgundy cover. Single gathering, hand-stitched and glued into a wraparound soft cover measuring 5×9 inches. An edition of fifty, numbered and signed by the author.

Josh Russell is also the author of Yellow Jack, a novel published by W. W. Norton in 1999.