Since the earliest histories of these matters (around the beginning of the Renaissance) when the goldsmiths guilds and armorers sought to disseminate their designs, and even earlier when scriptoriums gave-way to the “printing office” and incunabula, the ownership of a press endowed the man of his time with a raw power similar to owning a large communications empire today. For this reason the presses became real and not merely machines. They often had names and some were famous beyond their sphere of influence, since they took on character and acquired aspects both high and low. The French even named the whole class of these presses “the horned beasts” (les betes a cornes) because of the force they brought into the lives of copper-plate printers.
Hunter, Penrose & Littlejohn Double Geared Intaglio Press
Hunter, Penrose & Littlejohn, a double geared intaglio press with a throw of bed of 28 x 48 inches was built for Kathleen Rabel and shipped from London to Seattle in 1970; this press has gears cut from gunmetal, axles which float in planished bronze bushings, work surfaces of high nickel steel and frames cast in modern steel. This press, though it represents the ultimate perfection in etching presses is no longer produced being too costly to manufacture. There is no contemporary equivalent. To this date it has been rigged-out and reinstalled in five different studios. Works printed on this press have been collected by the Brooklyn Museum, the cities of Kobe and Beersheba, the British Museum and the Microsoft Corporation.
Kimber Double Geared Intaglio Press
“The Master M+S” (named for the 15th C. engraver Martin Schoengauer), a double geared intaglio press with a throw of bed of 23 x 42 inches. Built on order for Stephen Hazel in London in 1964 and shipped to Kalamazoo, Michigan. Works printed on this press are to be found in collections of the Library of Congress, the Philadelphia Museum, the Detroit Art Institute, Wadsworth Atheneum and Seattle Art Museum to name a few.
Cut gunmetal a`volant gearing, bronze bushings and nickel-steel wear faces are the modern concessions to be found in this apogee of press design by Wm. C. Kimber, press builders; reputed to be an exact duplicate of Whistler’s press made by these same machinist in the last century. Among the over twenty times this press has been moved, it should be noted that it served in a producing studio installed during the “SEVEN FROM WASHINGTON” exhibition at the Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington in 1970, a watershed event in the growth of interest in prints in Seattle, and an exhibition that traveled for the Smithsonian Institute for several years.
Parks Flatbed Litho Press
“le acre” a double geared, dual driven flatbed lithographic hand-proofing “Parks” press built by Robert Mayer in New York about 1903. This is the largest of its kind and the end of hand powered press evolution. With rod-pinned and steel slatted oak bed and cast iron frame this massive press has no equal in temperament and evenness of pressure. First sold to Theo. Leonhardt & Sons of Baltimore, and then relocated to their famed printing house in Philadelphia, this press was in regular productive use up to the day in 1959 when Stephen Hazel purchased it and rigged it into his studio in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. “le acre” has been moved twenty-four times including its participation in the “SEVEN FROM WASHINGTON” exhibition at the Henry Art Gallery, and its use in the one hundred and seventy-hour crash course to introduce lithography to art students at Pacific Lutheran University in 1971. Works from this press have received prizes in the 1st Annual Exhibition of Lithography at Florida State University, and 100 Prints of the Year at AAA Gallery, New York. The press was gifted by Studio Blu to Pratt Fine Arts Center in 2017 where it now resides and serves the needs of students exploring the print arts.
Latham Bookbinder’s Press
Latham Machinery Co, Chicago standing (bookbinder’s) press built about 1899. With a platen 18 x 28 inches this traditional vertical press has its screw seated by planishing an annealed bronze housing, and was first installed in binderies in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Its uncommon flat and true platen make it capable of printing type and wood engravings.
Fuchs & Lang Lining Machine
Lining machine manufactured by Fuchs & Lang Manufacturing Co., New York about 1890, and shipped to Spokane. This screw-arbor precision tool was used to cut the original half-tone grids into prepared “litho-tint” washes for early process lithographic images. Used in the 1970’s by members of the Seattle group MULTICOM to produce the suite “LINERS” published and exhibited at Foster-White Gallery as well as many other works in intaglio.