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!

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          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.


The Healing Continues


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               


January Recap

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                 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


17th Anniversary


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."



November Open Dates


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.


Review of September and Preview of October

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.

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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.

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Museum of Printing Fair

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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!


Lancaster 2017 Fair

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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!  

Moving into September

 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.