Saturday, October 22, 2011

the handpress at Electio

while this photo is also posted on my website at, its provenance is interesting, as is the general story that provides for me a moving context for it. Some years ago I printed a book of short texts on the creative process & drawings for yet to be realised bindings by the great Edgar Mansfield. The book was reviewed in Fine Print magazine by printer Lewis Allen of the Allen Press in Greenbrae, California. Shortly after that I wrote & thanked him, and subsequently we had a sporadic correspondence (all now in the Alexander Turnbull Library in New Zealand) - when, many years later, I came to Australia, I bought a brand new bench-top Albion from Steve Pratt in Utah, who was making new presses after having stripped down the Albion gifted to the University of Utah Library by Lewis Allen. So, I have a copy of Lewis Allen's press, on which he printed all his books after 1980. During the 1970s, I was given a photocopy of Allen's Printing with the handpress, and that book still keeps my sense of the craft and striving to get better and the sheer humanity of printing at the handpress alive. The press itself was made by D & J Grieg, Edinburgh, Scotland in 1882 (says Allen, but there are no date marks on my copy) - and I have press #11, dated 2005.  The platen size is 10 x 15 inches, 250 x 380mm, and the largest sheet size mine will take is 9.5 x 12 inches, 240 x 300mm, tho Allen said his largest sheet is 11 x 14 inches - here's the press -