I'm back. . . finally

It’s been a long, at times very dark, 5 month journey. Started in March with major dental work followed with open heart surgery May 22nd. Second week of July started passing a kidney stone. Through the next six weeks a total of six stones, one the size of an acorn, were removed with three laser lithotripsy operations. Last week was finally cleared by the urologist — I’m stone free at last! But even more significantly, last Friday I was discharged from the cardiac recovery program. Going to be on blood thinners for a bit, but normal activities can be resumed. Indeed, my stamina and strength are minimal; next week will begin an exercise regime to rebuild both.

I feel reinvigorated! Need to pace myself of course, and I will for sure. But it feels so great to be finished, up and about, and getting back to doing letterpress things. I’d be remiss not to acknowledge the many messages, cards, “likes”, thoughts and prayers from so many in the letterpress community. Your support has been truly humbling. More especially, I need to express my love and admiration to JoAnn. It was she who attended to my needs day and night through many hours of uncertainty and stress. “Well done.” my dear!

Upcoming “events” - Won’t be attending the Lancaster (PA) Printers Fair on Saturday, September 21st. A really great regional event, sorry to miss it. Instead JoAnn and I will take in the Museum of Printing’s Printers Fair in Haverhill, MA, September 21st. In October we’ll be set up at the International Museum of Printing in Carson, CA on Saturday the 19th and Sunday the 20th.

And finally - Open Dates. Working on a schedule now; will post shortly here on the website, on Facebook and Letpress. Online sales will resume soon; working on a website update also. Stay tuned. JB

July's over. . .


. . . and the hot, humid stretch that’s a hallmark of a New England summer has broken.

Went to the store today; walked (slowly) up the four flights, unlocked the door and whoa, the heat was stifling. The windows were opened and will remain so until there’s rain in the forecast.

In a few days the floor temperature should be back down in the 70’s. The high/low thermometer, reset May 20th, recorded a high of a 100, low of 83!


During the shutdown, the City of Chicopee came in and rebuilt the road: new culverts; drains; paving and a sidewalk with a good ramp. Moving stuff in and out will be much smoother now.

Improvements a long time needed.

The heart recovery continues very well; scheduled next week to have the kidney stone removed. Recovery just a few days. Lifting, pushing stuff around will still be restricted.

Already working to revamp the web site. Hope to have it back up and functioning at least on a limited basis end of August. Two months down, about another month to go. JB


Biding Time!

Surgery was performed May 22nd; 10 days in the hospital. Quadruple by-pass and an ascending aorta repair. Had a few rough days. Seven weeks now after the procedure; recovery is going well, started driving a week ago. Prior to surgery was preparing to have two kidney stones removed. Two weeks ago one started its trip to daylight. A small one but hurt like hell couple of times; not quite out yet. Soon, hopefully!

So what do you do when you can’t lift a finger. . . read, walk, Roku, exercise bike; repeat often, Weather has been decent, able to be outside quite a bit. Have always wanted to take a summer off; just not like this though.

We’d be remiss to not acknowledge the many, many “likes”, comments, cards from the letterpress community. Your good wishes have been “heart” warming, most appreciated! So wonderful to hear from so many “letterpressers” that we’ve met, served and come to know the past four decades!


our surgery is scheduled for May 15th!

We’ve been a bit vague about what “our” pending surgery is all about. Family and friends have urged me to finally detail what’s going on. Simply stated, we’re undergoing an open heart procedure for a number of “restrictions” and an aneurysm. Previously planned for March 27th, it was postponed the evening before. An infection was detected, traced to a tooth; as a result 8 teeth ended up being removed. And, an unfortunate aftermath of the extractions was a perforated sinus. All is well at the moment; we’ve healed to where the cardiac team is comfortable going ahead with the procedure on the 15th. We’ve begun the count down and preparation for the second time. I am truly ready!!

This med procedure will have an impact on sales and operations of Letterpress Things for a few months. Word is no driving for 5/6 weeks. No walking up the 4 flights of stairs, opening/closing the elevator doors, and lifting no more than 10 pounds until at least 9/10 weeks out. Follows anticipated times/details through the recovery period:

Open Date — Saturday, May 11th - Last scheduled Open Date until the middle the of August. By early August we hope to have a schedule posted for new Saturday Open Dates for later in August and beyond.

Web Site/Internet orders for supplies, etc. — we anticipate starting to fill orders again by the first of August. July the store is insufferably hot so little labor will be done until first of August. But the upside of so much down time will be organizing and updating the web site’s pages.

Saturday, May 11th — the past few weeks have seen a lot of processing of type, plates, cabinets, presses and machines, supplies and kits/packages. There’s a lot of “first seen” items out on the floor; have just needed to get stuff out from the back room, the 3rd floor and the dark corners. On the OPEN DATES PAGE various items available the 11th will be listed. Time won’t permit us to post many photos. But there are photos of items in the list that have code numbers; happy to upload them if interested. Do bear in mind, Saturday, May 11th is the last Open Date for several months. All sales will need to be taken that day.

Med Update

Since last October we’ve been waiting to get some surgery done. A number of times a procedure has been scheduled only to be postponed shortly before it’s date. The latest was Tuesday (3/26) when an infection was detected at the last minute. This “on again - off again” pattern has reeked havoc with the Barrett’s home life, our commercial business and Letterpress Things. Open Dates have been juggled about for several months now in an effort to maintain some sense of consistency. More importantly, we’ve tried hard to continue responding to and processing internet and website orders in the usual two to three day turn. Have slipped a couple of times for which we apologize; through it all our thanks and appreciation to the letterpress community for your continued support. It’s really great serving you! We’ll continue to post updates here to let you know when the surgery is completed and the Open Date schedule going forward. For the moment our next Open Date is April 6th. Hope to see you! JB

Happy New Year!


Our first open date of the new year is this Saturday, January 5th. Over the holidays, we continued to work on expanding on-the-floor displays and processing type and things. Recent weather related issues have been a distraction. Ongoing heavy rain storms with high winds have wreaked havoc on the roof and elevator operation. Repairs have been made and all seems better now, but time and nature will tell.

2018 for the Barrett’s was a year of ups and downs! From travels to various events, meeting new letterpressers and renewing past acquaintances to some some significant medical and mechanical misfortunes. But 2019 is a clean slate, here’s hoping for smooth travels and great health for the year. Of course it’s winter now and it does get chilly on the 4th floor. Occasionally the windows frost up here’s the view recently looking west over the Mt. Tom range.-JB

Winter Day from the 4th Floor.jpg

Nov. 24 Small Business Saturday

“Black Friday” is coming up at the end of this week! A big shopping day for mega-stores, malls online etc. However, in recent years, the following day has become “Small Business Saturday,” a shopping day to support smaller home-town businesses. Letterpress Things is a small local store and we’ll be open this Saturday, November 24th with special extended hours - 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. If you’re visiting family or friends in the Chicopee/Western Mass. area here’s a chance to visit for an hour or two to experience a bit of letterpress. A great way to get away from the stresses of the holiday. Happy Thanksgiving!

18th Anniversary!


Here we are, the beginning of November and the year is fast winding down. Working in the store now requires a wool cap, jacket, and a pair of fingerless gloves. It wasn’t so long ago a sweat band and t-shirt were the necessary attire. How quickly the seasons change! The next open date is Saturday, November 17th, and the 18th Anniversary of the opening of Letterpress Things! No big celebration this year (well, maybe just a few cookies and pastries for our sweet tooth and friends!) We recently came back from the LA Printer’s Fair in Carson, CA. It was a really great two day event, despite the rain Saturday morning. (The song says it doesn’t rain in Southern California! Really?) All the unsold items, type and collectibles finally made their way back to the store and are now out on the tables again.


During August and September, several small shops were retrieved, but have sat untouched since. With the fair season over, processing has begun again. For the 17th, over 40 cases of type have been added to inventory, a dozen plus fonts of wood type and more than 100 plates will be on display.


Additionally, work has resumed also on preparing table-top pressed for sale.

Here I am working on a 6 x 10 Kelsey, a recent acquisition. Several others are waiting on rollers or accessories. When those are ready, you’ll see them on the machinery page.There’s also a few new cabinets available, including several Thompson press stands/cabinets.


It’s nice to be back working on the floor, getting “new” stuff out.

Be sure to stop by on the 17th, you never know what treasures you’ll find!


Heading to LA Fair!

We’re on the way to the 10th Annual Printer’s Fair at the International Printing Museum in Carson, CA. Always a really BIG show, but this year’s Fair is a two day event, Saturday October 13th and Sunday October 14th. As in years past, it seems we pack up half the store to ship out. With this year being a two day even, we really had to pull a lot together. There’s one good sized pallet with 700 lbs. of type, tools, and supplies rolling across the country due in Carson soon. As part of our effort to clean out the dark corners and empty the high shelves, a variety of old, rare and collectible items will be available. The photo attached shows a lot of what’s going to be the tables 10 a.m. Saturday morning. And yes, there’ll be some pizza boxes too! Stop by, say hi and catch up on what the Barrett’s have been up to in 2018!


The Lancaster Printer Fair


Saturday, September 15th one entire block of North Queen St. in downtown Lancaster was closed for the 2018 fair. The weather was perfect with attendance at the highest yet and 30+ vendors. A tip of the hat to the .918 Club/Heritage Press Museum members and volunteers for a first class event!


The Barrett’s set up three tables overflowing with supplies, type, tools, even a few cabinets and a tabletop press. It was nice to get reacquainted with friends who’ve visited the store and meet those with whom we’ve only emailed on occasion.

The fair also hosted two fellows who embody the spirit of the traveling printing craftsman of yesteryear. One being Dave Seat of Hot Metal Services, who travels the country servicing hot metal casters and presses. The other, Chris Fritton (known more commonly as the Itinerant Printer) who’s traveled around the country since 2015, visiting various letterpress venues and documenting his visits in a newly released book!


This years trip wasn’t without some serious stress before and after the fair. The day before we were due to load up the van and leave, the elevator broke down. Everything had to be hand carried down four flights of stairs!

(If you’ve been to the store, you know about those stairs.)


After packing up and leaving the fair, we in Lititz for a cold brew and some snacks. Upon returning, the van just wouldn’t start. Ultimately, a major repair was required and the van was subsequently towed to a local repair shop. So after a gas station breakfast, an Uber ride to the Lancaster Airport for a rental car and a long, tiring drive, we finally made it home.


It was a great event and we were glad to be there, but we could have done without the stress before and after!


Clean Out: Take 2


            Last Saturday was the first of two consecutive Saturdays for "cleaning-out" years of accumulated letterpress stuff. Revamping the floor began in mid-July and continued non-stop until late last week. The previous weeks weather was insufferably hot and humid everyday, quite uncharacteristic for this time in August. Being on the fourth floor of an old New England mill, conditions day to day became unbearable by mid-to-late afternoon. The spirit was willing, the body just couldn't tolerate it, at which point we'd retreat to home and the AC.

            Hence, when the doors opened last Saturday not all the inventory was out on the tables. Twenty plus people from New England and New York made the trek to Chicopee. One fellow even traveled in from Maryland! There was still a large selection of items to rummage through and good finds were found. Plus, everyone got to experience the ongoing hot, humid, and sweaty conditions firsthand. Our appreciation to all who came by for putting up with the steamy conditions and especially for your purchases.

            The "clean out" event continues this coming Saturday and two factors are certain. First every table will be full with lots of stuff, and second (which affects the first) the weather forecast calls for cooler, drier conditions through next Saturday. This means it'll be much more comfortable to work in the shop to get ready, and more pleasant for a visit. Hope you do come by, for sure there are things here you know you'll need/want when you see them!


Clean Out Weekends


           This coming Saturday (the 18th) and the following Saturday (the 25th) will be a long needed clean out of all the odds and ends squirreled away over the years at Letterpress Things. The crew has been rearranging the store's entire floor and there's now fifteen 4' x 6' tables on which an abundance of letterpress "things" are displayed. Some tables hold one type of specific items, like reglet cabinets, paper trimmers, type, and slug cutters. Other tables are filled with one-of-a-kind items; tools, accessories and more.

            This "clean out" project has become more extensive than anticipated for several reasons. First, the out-of-sight areas and dark corners are yielding a lot more stuff than expected. There's much more "new" inventory than we realized. And second, the HEAT! The weather has been quite warm the past several weeks and working on the fourth floor really defines the term "sweat equity."

            Plan to come by one or both days. For sure there are "things" here you'll know you need when you see them!



A Major Clean Out Event


            In seventeen years, Letterpress Things has physically expanded to fill 4,000 square feet. The entire fourth floor of an old New England mill. And filled it is! Walk about the floor and you'll find counters, tables, racks, and shelves loaded with all sorts of letterpress items. Behind the scenes is another 4000+ squad feet crammed with more inventory. There's even a few pallets from earlier retrievals waiting to be processed.

            It's time to clean out; move stuff out of our space into yours. They'll be over a dozen large tables with merchandise spread out, and piled high; ready to be picked up and picked over. This includes inventory from the closely guarded "backroom" and the 3rd floor.

           So, what's included? Well, cabinets, table and some odd fixtures. Presses, a few being sold as is. Round cornerers, miters, slug cutters, and some old saws. There'll be plenty of type, about 100 fonts out for the first time, some in cases, others fonted. A bit of wood type, mostly orphans. You'll also find furniture, tools, boxes, cases, rusty composing sticks, and other assorted old letterpress implements.

            Come on by, either or both days. There's plenty to poke through and when a space opens up on a table, something else will take it's place. Bring a few boxes for all the letterpress things you didn't know you needed (or wanted) until you saw them!



Vacation is Over!

LT Vacation Blog Scan.jpg

          Back from a wonderful and relaxing time in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Cape Breton. Eight sun filled days with comfortable temperatures, no rain, lots of good food, and some breath-taking scenery along the way. Driving the Cabot trail, visiting the Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck, touring the Fort in Louisbourg, the Maud Lewis Museum in Halifax, and a quick stop at Peggy's Cove were among the highlights. All in all, a very pleasant, relaxing wind down from the tribulations we've endured this year.

          But now it's back to letterpress stuff! Before we left, and since our return, a major reorganization has been underway. With the remaining Swoop type now integrated into our regular inventory, it's time to reinvent the floor layout. We probably won't be completely done by this Saturday, but come the next open date, August 11th, all will be in place.

          Part of our labor presently is the processing of "stuff" that's been laying around for awhile. Over the years, as we retrieve equipment from shops some of it never gets completely processed. It seems there's always more coming in and it gets buried further back. So we're venturing into the dark corners now and finding some things we weren't aware we had. More info on this as it develops, so be sure to stay in touch!

            Summer continues to move along and we hope yours has been pleasant so far.



New Type & July Vacation


            The last few weeks have been active for us, both in the store and on the website. During our June 2nd open date, several visitors took home some nice cabinets. There's still a good selection of cabinets and several recently received units will be up on the website soon. However, the biggest level of activity came from the website. Eighteen fonts of wood type were posted and within a couple of days, every font was scooped up and mailed all over the country. We wish we had more, but wood type isn't as easy to come by these days.

            In place of the wood type, we've added a number of new metal fonts from the Swoop in typefaces and point sizes that are a bit more unusual or challenging to find and come from older type foundries. We box these type fonts for two reasons; first it's expensive to pack/mail a case with distributed type and second, you eventually end up with an empty cabinet.

LT-348  32pt. Minret from Johnson Type Foundry

               In other news, the store will be open this Saturday, June 16th and again on June 30th. The days are getting warmer and so is the store which means it's time for the Barretts to slip away for vacation. The store, the website, and our commercial shop, will all be closed from July 1st to July 17th. While the next open date after vacation won't be until July 28th, website activity will resume July 18th. Have a safe and pleasant summer!

- The Barretts


Prepping for the 2nd


       Our next open date is Saturday, June 2nd. We're back in reasonable physical condition and the Swoop events are well behind us. Now our attention and energy is focused on getting back to normal activity.

       On the website we've added some additional cabinets like the Multigraph cabinet (C-273), a California cabinet with dual working tops (C-327), and a press stand with ten cases (C-338) to name a few. As always, there's many more cabinets available on the website and at the store.


             Several additional machines are also on hand, such as a Martin Yale paper cutter (M-184), and a Bostitch stapler (M-185) with lots of staples. We're also showcasing one of the rarer presses we've had in quite awhile; a 5 x 8 Golding Pearl with a motor (M-186). Even if you're not interested in purchasing it, it's a press really worth seeing in person!

Also on hand is a tabletop 5 x 8 Kelsey (M-178) which will be available for shipping after the second.

           There's still a bunch of "things" (furniture cabinets, slug cutters, hand tools, type, etc.) to rummage through at the store and the various type fonts/plate sets seen on the website can be purchased in house sans postage fees. Teachers and professional printers, consider stopping by for your summer printing project supplies!

Hope to see you soon!  - JB


After the Swoop


You came, you saw, you swooped up a lot of great type, ornaments, wood type and more. Fifty plus people over two days; beyond our expectations! It's meant some serious time/work to get it all organized again as there are still 300+ type fonts left. True, the real rare ones are gone, but if you're just starting to build your type inventory, there's still a good selection of the more "common" working fonts. There's even a few sets of wood type left! 

Some of the items originally only available at the swoop will now be available online and will be posted on the website later this week.


Preparations Underway


A couple weeks ago the real task of situating 20 plus cabinets on the floor began. Simple to arrange paper rectangles on grid paper. With the need to consider floor loading and allowing for plenty of room to pull and set case selections aside, it took a bit of pushing, pulling, coaxing to get them all arranged. Several tables are being heaped with all sorts of letterpress paraphernalia, while ornaments and print plates are being displayed on a slanted working top. And wood type fonts are being transferred into the Barrett's nationally recognized pizza boxes. It's just a week away, and there's lots more to get done, but come 9:00 a.m. Saturday the 21st, we'll be ready.


Swoop Retrieval Run


            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.