Hmm, cell phone says it’s Andrew Churchman calling. With the usual pleasantries done, he’s got a situation to discuss. Seems the children of a fellow living in Connecticut are faced with the daunting task of disposing of their father’s print shop in preparation to sell the house. The fellow has been a lifelong letterpresser having amassed a considerable amount of type (reportedly 25+ cabinets!) It all needs to be removed, and soon! Andrew’s situation - he’s in Indianapolis and the logistics of packing and transporting such a large purchase from a distance are very challenging. Have I any thoughts or suggestions. My response - let’s relocate it all to Letterpress Things and have a good ole’ fashioned SWOOP!
Thus it began. Andrew flew in, met with the family and crafted an agreement. Andrew and I then worked out details for us to remove the shop’s contents and prepare for a sales event at the store. Now, all that was left to do was. . . move it all!
The contents were in a building, once a barn but converted for general use, with one room housing the print shop. There were cabinets, and other stuff, throughout the entire building, including on a second floor once used for hay. The retrieval began on Friday, December 29th. With my son Joe along to help, packing, staging and loading of the van began. The day was bright and sunny, and cold! Minus 11 degrees by the barn thermometer.
The Plan - empty the loft through the loft door, many empty cases, four cabinets. The van is filled front to back and to the roof. We start packing “things” in the print shop; cartons of books, paper, loose tools, leads and slugs from their cabinets onto galleys, etc. It all had to go.
Day two, Saturday, December 30th, began at 6 a.m., in the dark at Ryder Truck Rental to pick up a 16 footer with a lift gate. As daylight broke it was a bit warmer, about 10 degrees. The sky was deep gray; snow in the forecast. Fortified with extra large cups of Dunkin’ Donut coffee (no heat in the building, by the way), Dave (a longtime associate accustomed to such activity), Joe and myself arrived shortly after 8 a.m. Alas, so did the snow, continuing all day with about five inches of accumulation.
The Plan - get it all loaded. So it began; pull a case, check it’s weigh, slip sideways out the door, shuffle along a snowy path about 50 feet up an embankment, and place the case(s) on a pallet on the lift gate. When full, relocate pallet inside truck. Then the presses; strapped to a two wheeler and dragged up the path, wrestled onto the lift gate, in the snow. After the presses came the cabinets, a couple anyway. The truck is now at weight capacity, so we pile in, head back to Chicopee, off-load and return.
It’s now 4 p.m., daylight is waning, the temperature dropping, and there's a lot yet to load. Over the next four hours the remaining cabinets, and dozens of boxes, galleys, and buckets were hauled out, palletized, and shrink wrapped. At about 10:00 p.m., with every last thing in the truck loaded and secured, with tired, aching muscles, and now under the light of a full moon, we drove off to our respective homes for hot showers and bed. Despite it all, there’s an undefinable satisfaction about what’s been accomplished. A labor of love, a love of labor!
Day 3, Sunday, December 31st began sunny, bright, and cold. The Plan - off load the second truck load. After a hearty breakfast, and with Dave’s help, the truck was emptied. Over the next few hours everything had to be moved off the dock to the fourth floor. That’s when and where the real planning started. “How do we fit all those cabinets on the floor, keeping floor loading and accessability in mind!” Eventually it all came together. Now it’s time to plan a Swoop! Follow along the next several weeks for details about the Swoop itself.
It's mid-March already and the Barrett's are well on the mend! JoAnn is now into physical therapy and expects to be driving by month's end. Very exciting after three long months on crunches! My ribs continue to heal, although they do still hurt especially with a cough or when lifting/pushing something a bit heavy. But with "light" duty, we're still able to get some things done.
Our focus now is two-fold. First, several presses are being readied for sale and will be available during our next open date - March 24th. Second, at the end of December, just prior to our injures, a dozen new cabinets of type were brought in to the store. With assistance of a local high school senior, cabinets are being staged on the floor and the contents being inventoried in preparation for a "swoop" in early April. More details coming soon.
All in all, it's been a tough couple of months and it's really great to be functioning again.
Once again, our to thanks to friends and associates for all their well wishes.
-John B and JoAnn
It's February, we're now well into 2018! Temperatures have moderated somewhat, daylight minutes are increasing, thoughts of spring are creeping in.
For the Barrett's, January was an unequivocal disaster. First Saturday of the New Year, walking down the stairs at home JoAnn stumbled on the last step. Broken right leg, eight weeks immobilization, then lots of rehab. Few days later, a stairway tread I was standing on dropped out beneath me. Fell between the other two treads about 8 feet down straight down. Many scrapes, bruises, broken finger, and two broken ribs. Of all the physical ailments the body can suffer broken ribs are one of the worst. It's been over a month now and the pain has moderated, but there's still a ways to go.
With the both of us injured, the family room became an upscale convalescent ward. Bed, recliner, walker, crutches, etc. Cooking and food shopping became a real challenge and getting in and out of vehicles took great physical effort. January's weather was miserable; bitter cold, several snow storms, constantly dreary, just depressing. We're so indebted to family, friends and associates for many kind words, best wishes and helping hands. It's now Februdary; winter is slipping by and we're on the road to better times. Can't wait!
Needless to say, very little has been done in the store, but soon there'll be some new and exciting "things" to tell you about. Stay tuned.
John B & JoAnn
Time flies when you're not paying attention! It's been 17 years since the first cabinet and press were dragged off the elevator on the fourth floor at 55 North Chicopee St. During all that time, 5,000+ type fonts, 400+ cabinets and over 300 machines and presses have come up and down that elevator.
But the significant number (rough estimate over 4,000 to date) are the visitors from near and far who've walked up four flights of stairs to enjoy the ambiance, pick up supplies or find a treasure or two. It goes without saying the patronage is much appreciated. Those who have made the trek here know first-hand our passion and commitment to letterpress.
Saturday, November 18th the store is open; just another open date (over 350 so far!) Nothing special planned. Well, there may be some cupcakes with 17 candles. What we'd really enjoy would be for lots of folks to come by, say hi, hangout and check out our new inventory.
And promise, you won't have to sing "Happy Birthday."
Autumn leaves are falling and the wind has a noticeable chill. November is upon us and it's now a head-long dash to the holidays! Of course, this year you're going to print your holiday cards and gifts early...right? Yeah!
Well, maybe we can help kick-start your efforts and enthusiasm just a bit.
This Saturday we're digging out plates, ornaments, borders, type and anything else we can find related to the holidays - Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanuka, New Years (maybe even Valentine's if we can find something) and the winter season.
So come on by to see if there's something here that can ignite some early holiday energy.
And a heads up, the open date on Saturday, November 18th is our 17th anniversary! That's right, seventeen years ago that weekend we started hauling "things" into a 1,500 square foot area. Now the entire fourth floor (6,500 sq ft) is filled. Check back in a week or so; for sure there'll be something special going on that day.
September was a very active month; two busy open dates and two printing fairs.
The first was the .918 Club Heritage Printing Museum, Lancaster, PA letterpress fair.
Next came the fair at The Museum of Printing in Haverhill, MA.
Both were great events, well attended by vendors and letterpressers.
Lancaster had an unusual activity; tube roll printing, a fun take on laying ink on paper.
As always, nice to travel, see old friends, make new ones and talk a lot of letterpress.
But now we're preparing for October with two open dates (the 7th and the 21st) as well as the LA Printers Fair on the 14th.
Hope to see you somewhere along the way.
After a several year absence while moving to a new location, the Museum of Printing is once again producing their ever popular "Printing Fair." The fair will take place on Saturday, September 23, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at their new location; 15 Thorton Ave., Haverhill, MA. A variety of vendors will be on hand with lots of letterpress related products. Letterpress Things will be present with supplies, type, books and more. In addition to the vendors, the museum doors will be open free to one and all as part of the Smithsonian Magazine's 13th Annual "Museum Day Live" - a yearly initiative to generate interest and visits to local museums across the nation. The Museum of Printing's fair will certainly show visitors the community side of letterpress printing. Be sure to stop by and visit our booth!
Starting to gather type, supplies and "things" for the Lancaster Letterpress Fair on Saturday, September 16th.
This year's fair will be a real "street" fair, being held on the North Queen Street block from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
As in years past, Letterpress Things will be set up under the canopies with overflowing tables of equipment. From fonts of wood type to boxed metal fonts, icons, even some brand new sets of type from Swamp Press. Lots of plates, books, and one-of-a-kind "things," and of course supplies including stones, planers, quoins and keys, gauges, tympan, pressboard, quads, thins, cleaner, brushes and more! (If there's something special you're looking for, contact us soon.)
We might even bring one of the small presses shown on the website.
This year's fair is happening during the middle of three days of Letterpress events. Follow the link for details.
Be sure to stop by to say "Hello" we always like to see old friends and meet new ones!
Summer is slipping by and Fall is right around the corner! September will be a busy month for sure with three Open Dates and several Fairs to prepare for. New type fonts were recently posted, and we're presently working on more offerings including icons. Processing continues on more "Things" and several additional presses will be available during the month. Activity is high, both in the store and on the road. "New" inventory from several small shops have just been brought in and is being sorted-out presently. We've got a retrieval scheduled which will bring in four cabinets of decent type among other items. Check back later in the month for it's availability.
Our August 5th "reopening" was a great day! Almost 20 letterpressers came by throughout the day; more than half first-timers. The rest comprised of good friends needing a letterpress "fix" after six weeks of being closed.
Presently, our efforts are focused on our next set of Open Dates: Saturday, August 19th AND Sunday, August 20th. The emphasis for those two days will be on presses and machines. In process at the moment are several 5 x 8 and a 6 x 10 Kelsey, a sigwalt, two tabletop Craftsman (one a 6 1/2 x 10, the other an 8 x 12). You'll also find a floor model paper cutter and a round cornering machine. Photos and details of each unit will be posted soon on the Machines page.
Check 'em out and be sure to stop by if something interests you as we will not be holding items beforehand.
Hoorah! First few days of August and the heat of July is behind us. Day time temperatures creep up for sure, but at night temperatures cool things down. It's possible now to comfortably work mornings in the store and that's what we've started doing. This Saturday, August 5th is our first Open Date after shut down. We've got a few projects underway, and we're doing a bit of reorganization as well.
But come 9 a.m. Saturday, the we open our doors once again! So come by, be nice to see you.
P.S. Although we technically took a vacation during the month of July, we spent a good deal of our time off attending several letterpress events. Sarah represented Letterpress Things at the Buffalo Bookfest in early July. Later in the month, JB traveled out to the APA Wayzgoose held at the International Printing Museum in Carson CA. Both great events, met many friends and letterpressers.
More on those trips in upcoming blogs. Stay tuned!
It's the end of Spring, the start of Summer, and our "It's too hot up here!" shutdown is close at hand.
Imagine: New England in July, high heat and humidity, an old brick mill building, on the top floor with about five open windows and a bunch of giant fans. Physical activity, even just standing still, equals buckets of sweat!
Two Open Dates remain pre-summer shutdown, Saturday June 24th and Sunday June 25th. The crew is working hard to wrap up a number of projects in order to have as much new inventory out on the floor for these Open Dates.
Come by on the 24th and 25th and you'll find:
+ A Variety of "new" fonts in the type cabs. +
+ Some wood type fonts and some "Alpha" (similar to the Franken-Fonts from last October.) +
+ A number of pounds of icons, borders, etc. +
+ A big bunch of new plates. +
+ A few table-top presses. +
+ A growing selection of "one-of-a-kind" things. +
So this is it for the Winter and Spring seasons. Soon we'll slip away to get some rest, do some traveling and generally "wind down" after what's been a busy Spring. Looking forward to having you stop in!
It's June, summer and vacation time is approaching. We're busy wrapping up the final processing of several shop purchases from last fall and earlier this year. The goal is to finish before the heat and humidity of July sets in. This Saturday, we continue offering a variety of tools and things, first at the store and then subsequently on the website.
And there will be several 5 x 8 Kelseys available if you're looking for a press. In preperation for our summer vacation, we'll be open for two days the fourth weekend of June with an expanded amount of items. Details to come soon!
So what's new around Letterpress Things these days?
Well, at our commercial shop in West Springfield, a well-equipped workshop for cleaning and fixing tools, machines, presses, etc. is finally up and operational.
This improves our ability to more quickly process and prepare items acquired in recent months for sale on the floor.
In fact, this Saturday the 27th, there'll be a number of small tools available for the first time including several round cornering units, a steel rule cutter, a Hanson brass rule cutter, a single spindle drill, an ink scale and more.
There'll also be a 6 x 10 Kelsey, complete, ready to print and possibly several other units presently being worked on. There's even still some type and items left from the Howie Swoop.
It's a long weekend coming up so if you're looking for a day trip destination or coming through the area, stop in and say hello!
The Howie Gelbert Swoop on April 14th was well attended.
It was really nice to see so many letterpressers out and about on such a gorgeous Spring day.
The Swoop continues this Saturday, April 29th for anyone who couldn't make it earlier this month.
There's still a good variety of type fonts available as well as a furniture and reglet cabinet,
an Enkay Paper Trimmer, a 5 x 8 Kelsey, a half-size cabinet (12 cases), and a short open case cabinet in green.
Of course, there's lots of store inventory as well, including a rare item for us; 100 sheets of large rag paper.
See you Saturday!
Just a day left until this Saturday's Swoop at Letterpress Things. There's a nice variety of "finds" from Howie's printshop.
Presses, such as a Vandercook 099, 5 x 8 and 3 x 5 Kelseys, as well several toy presses with rollers.
There's several books including catalogs and 40 plus ITC type specimen pamphlets.