It’s that time of the year again! If you’re looking for basic printing supplies, odds and ends and metal type, don’t miss the annual Platen Press Type Sale in Zion, Illinois (about an hour north of Chicago). The details:
It’s a great opportunity to pick up little things you might be needing, new type to play with, or maybe a new press if you’re just starting out. Knowledgeable folks will be on hand to help, and the prices are pretty great.
This event should be more widely known. A newbie letterpress printer can be confused by the prices for various presses. When I bought a Kelsey 6×10 in 1980, I paid $150, which included a font of type, cabinet with cases, as well as the press. When Kelsey went bankrupt about ten years later, the price of a Kelsey shot up to $750 and has remained there since then. People should realize that although presses are less available now than formerly, there is a difference between West Coast prices (aimed usually at institutional budgets) and Midwest prices (geared toward individual buyers). If you pay more than $1000 for a Kelsey or a Craftsmen (not Craftsman; that’s a floor model, different animal), you’re wasting money. The best source for a reasonably priced tabletop press is a letterpress dealer. Those include Don K. & Craig Black in Canada, John Barrett’s Letterpress Things in Massachusetts, Fritz Klinke at NA Graphics. There are a few who buy entire letterpress shops, such as John Horn and Paul Aken, who frequently offer an unexpected bargain. These are all letterpressmen with long experience, who will charge a reasonable price for what they sell. For typefounders who will cast new type for less than an arm and a leg, check out Richard Hopkins in WVa and Sky Shipley in Arizona. Best rule of thumb is shop around, ask a long-time printer or two. Some will say disregard the tabletops, but with attention to make-ready they will produce as fine an impression as any other press. Anyone want to argue price with me, go right ahead….