Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pictures for winter

Eugene Atget

unknown, via ffffound

Michael Kenna

Monday, January 24, 2011

Old Books

I recently put out a call to my friends asking for old paper and books. I'm planning on making a whole bunch of new mixed paper books in the next couple weeks, so I need all the paper I can get. A friend of mine sent me a few old books, including this school reader.

:: a children's reader ::

When I got it, it was wrapped in very dirty printed fabric which protected the original cover from becoming bleached or worn. It's such a beautiful design, especially for a children's school book.

:: run, hen, run! ::

Inside are detailed engravings of animals, people, and activities. One thing I found striking is how the lessons are centered on much more agrarian topics (and a lot more rats...) than what would be addressed in today's textbooks.

:: i too am a stationer and bookseller ::

Wilmington is where I grew up. I wish I could go back and time and visit this store. I bet they had some pretty great notebooks for sale.

:: bluejay ::

My friend also sent me a couple of books with illustrations of birds. I especially love the colors of this illustration of a bluejay from a children's guide to birds.

:: mr. cardinal ::

And the simplicity of this illustration of a cardinal on the roof from a children's book of stories.

Thanks, friends!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Everything's Coming up Milhouse!

:: wood type and cat ::

I went on an adventure yesterday, to meet a fellow with some letterpress equipment for sale. I came back with a big box of wood type! The seller and his wife were very sweet, and I spent an hour getting to look at and talk about all kinds of interesting things. Searching far and wide for letterpress equipment can be a thankless pursuit, so when you meet honest, kind people who just want to see the stuff used, it's just swell. Yes, everything is coming up Milhouse, indeed.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New on Sale

The Huldra Press Etsy store is now updated with new books and prints. Here is a selection of some of things you'll find there.

yellow graph paper field book
(featured on mint design blog)
black pocket notebook with mixed paper

Thanks for reading, hope you find something you like.

Friday, January 14, 2011


Today, I kept seeking out images and things from the past. A picture from 1909 a block from where my studio sits today from the wonderful Free Library of Philadelphia archives...

... Those red bordered labels that I use as if they were made of gold.

And the map I scanned today, from the geography text book that belonged to one of my ancestors a long time ago.

The most pleasant surprise was to discover that a company, named Esselte, still makes beautiful, sewn, acid-free ledgers so that, as they say on their site, you can "Be certain that important records stay in tact for a long, long...time!"
Esselte Ledger

That makes me happy, deep down in the cockles of my bookbinding heart.

P.S. I also wanted to say thank you to Ellie of the Mint Design Blog for her lovely feature about Huldra Press, and say hello to some new readers too. Hope you enjoy.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Stephen Shore

This photograph by Stephen Shore is one of my favorite photographs of all time. I couldn't really tell you why, but I think it's beautiful.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Friday, January 7, 2011


You know what? Fixing a press is not easy, especially if you're unfamiliar with the inner workings of the type of press you're trying to fix. I've used Vandercooks for years, and feel confident tinkering with one, because I know how it's supposed to act when it's working. But this press...

my press where it sat for 30 years unused

Is a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a vest. Recently though, I've made some more progress, and more importantly, I'm gaining confidence. I'm also coming to terms with the fact that this press will never look perfect, but it should work.

A few months ago, I found out that my press has some parts that weren't manufactured by Chandler & Price.

my press, ink disc bracket

My ink disc bracket is made up of three parts, two arms that bolt to the frame and one that lays over top, like a post and lintel. On a C&P, this is all one piece.

my press, ink disc lever

Another mystery was how come the ink disc lever, the mechanism with a little hook that turns the ink disc, was much smaller than a C&P's. It worked, it just didn't look like it was supposed to.

Lastly, there's the gripper cam.

my press, gripper cam

A C&P's gripper cam

Well, as you can see, one of these things is not like the other. I knew these parts weren't homemade repairs, because they had serial numbers on them, but I didn't understand where they could have come from.

So I did some research and found out that around 1887, Chandler & Price was not the only press manufacturer around. There were many regional manufacturers building nearly identical generic presses lumped under the description of old style Gordon jobber presses. The article George Gordon's Dream Press is a great resource if you want to learn more. I plan to buy A Catalogue of 19th Century Printing Presses by Harold E. Sterne when I have some extra dollars too.

Now that I knew that, I searched for images of "gordon jobber presses" and started finding some presses that had parts that looked like mine! Like this one, an S&L old style jobber press with a three piece ink disc bracket.

three piece ink disc bracket

And most striking, I found the Old Reliable. The Old Reliable was only manufactured for one year, 1888, and then the patents were sold to Chandler & Price.

Old Reliable

Chandler & Price Old Style

The two press's look nearly identical! So what I've come to realize is that my press is a mutt. The main frame and platen is from a 1887 Chandler & Price. The flywheel, gripper cam, ink lever, and ink disc bracket...not Chandler & Price. They could be from any number of regional press manufacturers that were around back then. I'm so glad I figured this out, because now that I know that there's plenty of other mystery presses out there that are working. Will it work even though it's a mutt? I think so.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Cat Book and others

I buy a lot of books just for aesthetics. It may be an unusual cover, exceptionally beautiful illustrations, or an interesting vintage design, I can't resist a good looking book.I found this book at the Philadelphia Free Library's book store, a children's book about a cat in the shape of a cat. The colors are worn and soft.
The illustrations, and the story, are sweet and simple.
This edition of White Fang from the early seventies has a striking cover, I love the white letters on the dark background, and I'm planning on making it into a journal.
This guide to North American wildlife is from 1982. There's something about the typography and color palette that is deeply comforting, and reminds me of my childhood.

I'm wondering what typeface was used. Plantin?