Preserving the World of Letterpress

Here at The Paris Market, we take delight in finding beauty in the dusty, dirty, and sometimes forgotten items of the past. The Art of Letterpress has always been close to our hearts (and on our shelves) since our doors opened. We carry a variety of beautifully aged woodblock letters, symbols, and stamps that are cultivated by our customers and treasured local artists. Sadly the World of Letterpress is slowly being forgotten, preserved by a few bright spirits who dedicate their lives to keeping alive this incredible Art. 

A little about Letterpress

Wood has been used for letterforms and illustrations dating back to the first known Chinese wood block print from 868 CE. The forerunner of the block print in China was the wooden stamp. The image on these stamps was most often that of the Buddha, and was quite small. Provided with handles to facilitate their use, they were not unlike the modern rubber-stamps of today. In Europe, large letters used in printing were carved out of wood because large metal type had a tendency to develop uneven surfaces, or crack, as

it cooled.

In America, with the expansion of the commercial printing industry in the first years of the 19th century, it was inevitable that someone would perfect a process for cheaply producing the large letters so in demand for broadsides. Wood was the logical material because of its lightness, availability, and known printing qualities.

Established and managed by the Two Rivers Historical Society, the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum is in its thirteenth year as a living museum. The Museum is operated by staff and volunteers of the Two Rivers Historical Society, many of whom are part of the history of Hamilton, as former employees.
The Museum, at 40,000 square feet, is no doubt one of the largest fully functional workshops in the world. Not only do the thousands of visitors who come through every year get to see how wood type was made at the foundry, students, artists, typographers and designers visit to take workshops and actually put their hands on and use the collection to create works of art and scholarship in our pressroom at the Museum. To be able to use the type and cuts and a press to make a print can broaden a design student's understanding of typography and color and layout, and artists make work with wood type that would have surprised and delighted Ed Hamilton, the company's founder.
They are housed in an original Hamilton building that dates from 1927.
Paris Market Graphic Design Gal, Monica, recently took a trip to Two Rivers to visit the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum. Here are some of her photos from, what she calls it, an unforgettable experience.

Do Your Part to Save this Lost Art

Hamilton is being forced to move, perhaps as soon as mid-February. The owners of their building have given them 90 days to pack and vacate the building. They have little or no money to do this and no place to move to. They are attempting to raise $250,000 in short order to get 30,000 sq. feet of printing history packed up and ready for a new home, wherever that may be. 
PLEASE consider a donation today. 
You can download a donation form here or click below to give online. View the official press release here.

To learn more about Wood Type, The Museum, and the Journey of this Lost Art, visit here.

Join the Paris Market in our efforts to help save the Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum and preserve the world of Letterpress by donating today!

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