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100 Year Old Cow Helps Save the HWTM

Written by in Color & Texture, Inspire

Just Your Type: Sacred Cows

A newly released print for The Beauty of Letterpress is being offered for sale to support the preservation and curation work at the Hamilton Wood Type Museum. This block has historic significance. The 12.5 x 19 poster was printed by museum director Jim Moran. We spoke with Jim about his limited-edition Jersey Cream cow print. There are only 100 prints available for sale to benefit the museum. Act fast.

Go to this link to buy a print: https://thebeautyofletterpress.com/contribute/


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Still sweet after all these years.

What was it about this cow that compelled you to print it?

I wanted a truly authentic Hamilton piece, so I chose this vintage Jersey Cream ad because it was cut by Hamilton Manufacturing between 1888 and 1891, and are the oldest blocks we know of in the collection. They were rescued from the basement of the Hamilton main office — having sat unnoticed for nearly 100 years! And, if a cow doesn’t represent our area, what does? It’s also a challenge to register, because it is three blocks. The exercise stretched my printing muscles.

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The bottom two-color proof shows the difficulty of properly registering the third color.

How fragile are these antique wood printing blocks?

The Jersey Cream blocks are among the oldest pieces in the collection made by Hamilton Manufacturing. There is a distinct possibility that we will never be able to print from the original blocks again. Cracks from age and dehydration affect our collections of vintage blocks. We try to minimize the damage with oil, but a stable storage environment is necessary. The money raised through the sale of these 100 prints will be used to create a humidity/climate-controlled room to help ensure the protection of these and other historic pieces in our collection.

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Hamilton Wood Type Museum director, do you print as often as you’d like?

I lament my lack of printing time. That’s what was great about being asked by Neenah to do this print. I remind myself that the reason I get so tied to the front office and computer is because we’re successful. Fortunately, after six years of growth, I begin to see a time where printing is becoming more possible as we have added staff.

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Moran checks colors and registration on the Vandercook press.

What qualities make something your favorite things to print/work with?

I’m drawn to typefaces that were in the family print shop in Green Bay (Moran’s Quality Print Shop). As a teenager, I recall my Dad suggesting Bodoni, DeVinne, Cheltenham, or Handletter Italic, so I choose them instinctively. I love the multicolored plates in the Hamilton Globe Collection. This group of blocks came from Chicago’s Globe Printing Company and are both challenging and beautiful, while illustrating both printing and American history.

Why did you choose Neenah’s Environment Papers in Honeycomb for the print?

The “Raw” stock I chose has a smooth, yet fiber-like finish. It prints extremely well in a letterpress application and seemed perfect for an historic image — sort of an analog looking paper with a very printable finish. Honeycomb’s warm tone is ideal for a rural looking print. The landscape of the background also reminded me of a soft, smooth consistency.

Why do you think it’s important to support the preservation and work at your museum?

There are many reasons. Our collection features examples of rare craftsmanship, from cutting to printing type, that illustrate printing history. These wood blocks and type required great carpentry skills and a lot of hand work. This museum has artifacts that exist nowhere else in the world, and as a working museum we employ techniques and skills such as wood cutting, machine operation, and machine repair. I enjoy the fact that it’s all part of preserving the deep heritage of Hamilton and I get to be a part of that.

Act Now Red Cow!

Jersey Cream is a 12.5 x 19 historic print, available for $100. Only 100 prints were made. Proceeds from sale go to support the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum.

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Sale of Jim Moran’s signed prints will help save more sacred cows at HWTM.

  1. 09

    Can you post a link of where to actually buy this print? It’s not on the Hamilton site and the yellow box above doesn’t have one.

  2. 09
    Matt Porter said:

    Elliot, I thought that the poster was available through the Hamilton Museum site. It is available here: https://thebeautyofletterpress.com/contribute/
    Thank you for pointing out this commission. Matt P

  3. 09
    Matt Porter said:

    I added the link to the blog post, too. Thank you again for the shout out. Matt P