I still remember, as if it were yesterday, the very first time I stood in front of a printing press, my hand on the wood handle. It was in June 1998, in Mission, British Colombia, with Jan and Crispin Elsted, the owners of Barbarian Press. I was there for an intensive letterpress printing workshop for beginners. After carefully inking the type, I placed the sheet of paper to be printed, lightly but firmly grabbed the wooden handle with both hands, closed my eyes and pulled. Others were busy around me, nobody noticed the tears in my eyes. I let the handle go back, gently lifted the paper sheet and held it in the light : my very first print!

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Fitting the case filled with type in the platten press

A few paragraphs from the first book I printed, on a Foolscap Folio type Albion press, made in 1833

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Some of the printer’s tools : the galley with a composing stick holding type, the tacket, the corners and a corner key in a frame

Close-up on some type and a key in a corner

A drawer filled with type. The printer is at home setting type: he can work without looking at the cases.

A platten press
Another platten press

A hand press, a direct descendant of Gutenburg’s original printing press

© copyright Denis Larocque, photographer & webmaster