“Death of a Pressman”


Letterpress printing has been dying for more than a century. This year, we are celebrating (approximately) the 120th birthday of the nostalgia for traditional printing. It was in 1891 that William Morris founded his famous Kelmscott Press, where he set out to reinvigorate the traditional printing methods of Gutenberg, Jenson, and Caxton. And it was in 1892 that worsening conditions in the handset-type business forced 23 of the largest remaining type foundries in America to consolidate into the American Type Founders Company, where Henry Lewis Bullen began collecting one of the country’s largest type-founding and printing libraries, now housed at Columbia University, in New York.1 By the late 19th century, anxieties over the loss of the old ways of printing were already crystalizing.


(Keep reading my 2012 PRINT Magazine Article)