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We’ve been doing some work on our Harrild & Sons Albion. We’ve been trying to explain the problems we are having and trying to get suggestions for correcting them from other hand press owners. If you would like to see the process you can take a look.
An interesting new development is that we think 2 photos from Richard-Gabriel Rummonds’ book Printing on the Iron Handpress” are of our press and/or its brother.
We originally bought ours from the Museum of Printing in North Andover, MA back in 2008. There were two identical presses. The serial number of ours is 8112. As best I can tell from the one photo that shows it on the other one ended in “113″ (cannot read the 8).
Here are the two photos.
Above: This one shows the press feet/legs to the cheeks so we have a much better idea that the photo matches our press. The caption in Rummonds’ book reads…
Photo 13: Pressmen printing The Catalogue of the Frick Collection on two Albion presses back to back. Laboratory Press, Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pittsburgh, PA, 1949. (Photo courtesy of Cary Graphic Arts Collection, RIT.)
Above: Photo 14: Pressmen printing The Catalogue of the Frick Collection on a Harrild Albion Press. Laboratory Press, Carnegie Institute of Technology, Pittsburgh, PA, 1949. (Reprinted, by permission, from American Printer, March 1950.)
Paul Ritscher of Devil’s Tail Press, through the iron hand press listserv where we’ve been getting the advice for our Albion setup, offered this bit of information about the presses.
“In a glance at Porter Garnett: Philosophical Writings on the Ideal Book, Book Club of California 1994 (a book that should be in every hand-press library), Porter Garnett describes the purchase of the two presses specifically for the purpose of printing the Catalogue of the Frick Collection for the Museum of Modern Art, a project begun in 1928, and not completed until after he left Carnegie in 1935 by Bruce Rogers.”
After bit of online searching we found that the University of Delaware (just down the street) has a copy of the catalog of the Frick Collection. The colophon from volume 1, “The printing … was begun in 1929 by Porter Garnett who designed the basic format of the text, and who printed the sheets through page 168 … The work was laid aside in 1932. Printing was begun again in the spring of 1949 under the direction of Bruce Rogers, who designed the two volumes of illustrations, and the title page, section headings, and accessory pages for the volume of text. The sheets of text were completed on the hand-presses of the University of Pittsburgh … One hundred and seventy-five sets have been made”–Colophon of v. 1.
The story just keeps getting better.”
Information on PORTER GARNETT who may have been the first purchaser of our press (until we know better we are going to start giving the date of construction of our press as the 1920s).
Variously a playwright, critic, editor, librarian, teacher, and printer, Porter Garnett (1871-1951) was born in San Francisco and was for many years an active figure in the Bay Area literary scene. A member of the Bohemian Club for many years beginning in the 1890s, he wrote and produced plays and masques for the Club, whose members included his good friends Jack London and George Sterling. Like many members of the Club, he was involved in journalism, working as a newspaper critic and editor. With Gelett Burgess, he founded the magazine The Lark in 1895. From 1907 to 1912, he served as an assistant curator at the Bancroft Library at the University of California at Berkeley. In 1922, he became a professor of graphic arts at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There, he founded the Laboratory Press, where he taught and practiced fine printing until the press closed in 1935.