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Re: Real Printing

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  • Paul W Romaine
    ... [....] The old ... Like Carole, I would not deign to call these people purists, they are antiquarian romantics. Gerald tells the wonderful story of one
    Message 1 of 26 , May 1, 2003
      --- In PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com, Carole Aldrich wrote:
      [....] >The old
      > style group who eschews anything new and those who realize that there
      > is a marriage of old and new technology that can benefit all.

      Like Carole, I would not deign to call these people "purists," they
      are antiquarian romantics. Gerald tells the wonderful story of one
      such person (whom I know, and who's a great guy), sniffing at
      photopolymer as too technological, and then immediately responding to
      his beeper. I certainly respect the folks at Colonial Williamsburg who
      labor on the common press, but I sure as all heck wouldn't want to do
      it myself for a living. And trust me, those workers go home to houses
      with central heating and plumbing. Some even use... computers.

      > Yes, you are right that I posted here to get affirmation. When
      > phototypesetting became commonplace in the graphics world, there were
      > those who thought it was not up to the quality of the old ways.

      I think one of the most judicious responses I've heard on
      photocomposition or digital composition came from the New York
      designer Jerry Kelly in an informal chat. It all depends on the *care*
      with which you work with the tools that you're given. He insists that
      photocomp offset or any other technology can be a fine tool in the
      hands of a careful craftsperson.

      Would Bruce Rogers or Daniel Berkeley Updike have jumped at
      photopolymer, digital composition and modern offset? You bet! And
      Updike, in particular, seems to have had some remorse at how, as a
      young whippersnapper, he so frequently changed designs after type had
      been set--see some of the essays in the new DBU anthology from Mark
      Batty. He and John Bianci had hot metal machines at Merrymount Press
      by the time of Updike's death. (O tempora! O mores!)

      > Now, when I look at metal type and contrast that with the finesse of
      > kerning and spacing that I have with my computer type, I feel really
      > restricted by using metal type.

      Well, yes, but there's an immediacy and physicality to metal type. I
      find it a PITA to handle, especially as my eyes get older, but there's
      a certain feel and ... for lack of a better term, "zen" to setting
      foundry type.

      > I'm sure even Gutenberg was considered a pariah by some, since his
      > type was mechanical and lacked the finesse of hand calligraphy.

      Carole, I'm glad you cast this as speculation. As another poster has
      noted, historically, it was the soon-to-be-out-of-work scribes who
      were most affected.

      > What his [Gutenberg's] technology did was to bring books to the masses.<

      May I quibble? Gutenberg's invention had the *potential* to bring
      books, pardons, printed forms, posters, newspapers, playbills, ticket
      stubs, flyers, and printed tin cans to the masses, but that would be
      the future. He printed for a small number of well-off organizations
      and people, like the Church. The first "humanist" printers printed for
      a small number of humanist scholars (like Valla, Bembus and later
      Erasmus) and highly educated nobles (courtier, Castiglione-types),
      then the circle widened as very small middle class, concerned for its
      salvation, began learning to read. The great mass of people were not
      reading, not even in the 18th century. (This "books to the masses"
      idea is like the ever-rising middle class.) There's a widening circle
      affected by literacy in each century, in different countries, with
      each innovator, and the masses are truly not reached until the
      invention of the cylinder press and its harnessing to non-human
      sources of power in the 19th C. In the pre-industrial revolution, a
      better claim to bringing books to the masses could be made by John
      Bell and his (textually awful, but typographically important)
      libraries of great authors, like Shakespeare. In fact, Bell, in his
      introduction to Shakespeare, explains that he eliminated long-s in his
      presswork, in part because of the problem of increasing literacy in
      the serving classes. (Try reading aloud "Where the bee sucks, there
      suck I," from _As You Like It_. Cite reference on Bell to Paul W.
      Nash's article in Journal of the Printing Historical Society, 2000.)

      All in all, an interesting thread of discussion.

      Best,
      Paul
      Paul W Romaine
      http://home.pipeline.com/~romaine
    • Bruce Kennett Studio
      ... this seems spot-on to me! i am a photographer as well as book designer, and a few years ago i helped to create a book for kodak s professional photography
      Message 2 of 26 , May 1, 2003
        >I guess my take on it is this: all these things are tools in our toolbox.
        >The more tools we have, the more choices we have so that we can satisfy both
        >aesthetic and practical considerations. I frankly prefer to stay open to all
        >possibilities and the various quirks of each process because I think the
        >subtle differences in each process increase the potential for powerful
        >communication.

        this seems spot-on to me!

        i am a photographer as well as book designer, and a few years ago i
        helped to create a book for kodak's professional photography division
        in germany. it was at a time when a lot of professional shooters were
        growing very anxious about converting to digital. the thrust of the
        book was that they should not fully embrace digital, nor should they
        hold back in pure analogue. instead, they should think of it as a
        system of *hybrid* imaging, where they drew from the strengths of
        each area and tried to minimize as best they could the inherent
        shortcomings of each. (for example, an image on a sheet of 4x5 color
        transparency film can hold a HUGE amount of data, and have fantastic
        tonal smoothness, and it takes up a whole lot less room than a hard
        drive; but it's also very tender and fragile, and it remains as a
        physical object. by contrast, a digital file of the same image can be
        sent electronically, manipulated in a wild number of ways, and
        combined with other images, etc. but it may be lacking in subtlety
        and tonal smoothness.)

        that said, each year brings digital that much closer to analogue in
        photography, and in music reproduction.

        i agree wholeheartedly with katie here: i feel most comfortable with
        the notion that there *is* no absolute best way, it varies so much
        from job to job -- driven by content, budget, schedule, available
        machinery, intended readers, etc. and i'm more interested in good
        printing and effective and beautiful design than i am in *real*
        printing (whatever that is . . .)

        bruce

        (i just signed up for this list so i'll be a new name for everyone,b
        ut at some point i'll explain a bit about my interests)
        --


        +++++++++++++++++++++++++++
        Bruce Kennett Studio
        1234 West Side Road
        North Conway NH 03860
        Phone 603-447-2338
        Fax 603-447-5510
        www.brucekennettstudio.com
        +++++++++++++++++++++++++++
      • Fritz Klinke
        My first hand setting of type dates back to the mid-50s on the Canyon Courier in Evergreen, Colo., but I recently achieved my goal of having some of all of the
        Message 3 of 26 , May 1, 2003
          My first hand setting of type dates back to the mid-50s on the Canyon
          Courier in Evergreen, Colo., but I recently achieved my goal of having some
          of all of the hot metal machines--Ludow, Linotype, Monotype--and yet we make
          photopolymer plates almost every day. This morning's work includes a set of
          plates for a fellow who prints decals for model railroaders which are done
          on a Vandercook Universal I that was made to his specifications in the 60s.
          His railroad type is all custom created on a computer and cannot be
          duplicated in metal type.

          I have also worked in a "real" letterpress production shop where massive
          amounts of letterpress work was done on a regular basis to very tight
          schedules. What ever produced the end result desired by the customer was
          fair game. It ran from hand set type to the earliest photopolymer plates
          (Dycril) to chrome plated electros, and often combined offset. An example
          would have been the catalog for a junior college we did in 3 weeks--4-color
          offset cover, about 430 pages of 8 pt Linotype, about 15 halftones, 20,000
          copies, all chapter heads hand set, and perfect bound. This was done on
          several presses including Miehle flatbeds and Heidelberg cylinders. And not
          too many blocks away was where the Grabhorns once produced their exquisite
          letterpress books and commercial printing. Thus a discussion or debate of
          what is "real" in terms of letterpress has to cover all the aspects of the
          trade--no one part is any more real than another in my opinion and
          experience.

          Fritz Klinke, NA Graphics
          1314 Greene Street, P.O. Box 467
          Silverton, Colorado 81433 USA
          970-387-0212, fax 970-387-0127
          nagraph@...



          ----- Original Message -----
          From: "Peter Fraterdeus" <peterf@...>
          To: <PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com>
          Sent: Thursday, May 01, 2003 8:38 AM
          Subject: Re: [PPLetterpress] Real Printing


          The proof's in the pudding ;-)

          I've yet to prefer hot metal badly arranged to cold well designed.

          However, particularly for display, there's no substitution for the instant f
          eedback that metal foundry type allows. To pull a proof, switch a copper
          hair-space from one side of a letter to the other, pull the proof again...

          The computer, with the no-rules philosophy, allows the creation of work
          which has no guts, no bones, no spirit. Even badly set linotype and foundry
          has some honesty about it.

          (For the record, I designed my first digital typeface in 1985 and was
          working in letterpress a few years before that.)

          Gutenberg's critics didn't really care about the 'beauty' of 'calligraphy'.
          They were more concerned about their own jobs, and that his press could put
          1000 of them out of work with a single book!


          Ciao
          Peter



          At 9:11 AM -0400 2003-05-01, Mike Gastin wrote:
          >Bryan,
          >
          >I read that same article and thought the guy was a dope. But, I thought
          more
          >about it ...
          >
          >He was originally an ad agency guy and left the biz to start his little
          >press. I think he makes a big noise about real vs. plastic in an effort to
          >impress his ad community friends who supply him with work. I think he is
          >providing a kind of snob appeal to impress (no pun intended!) his
          >customers - the agencies.
          >
          >I do not agree with his attitude about polymer. I think the question was
          >asked in a previous post - what did some folk thing of Gutenberg and his
          >mechanical type verses the "beauty" of hand lettering?
          >
          >I think polymer is an awesome tool to allow a printer accomplish something
          >that is unreasonable with the supply of metal type these days. Progress
          ....
          >
          >Mike
          >
          >
          >----- Original Message -----
          >From: "Bryan Hutcheson" <bryan@...>
          >To: <PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com>
          >Sent: Thursday, May 01, 2003 2:13 AM
          >Subject: Re: [PPLetterpress] Real Printing
          >
          >
          >Beware of someone who claims they can define what is, or is not, real.
          There
          >was an article about a letterpress printer in a recent issue of Print. The
          >featured printer was taking this holier than thou attitude about
          >letterpress...claiming his work wasn't "plastic". He may not have been usin
          g
          >polymer, but he sure in the hell was pretentious. His claims that his
          >printing was "real" was about as fake as it gets...
          >
          ...

          --
          AzByCx DwEvFu GtHsIr JqKpLo MnNmOl PkQjRi ShTgUf VeWdXc YbZa&@

          Peter Fraterdeus http://www.midsummernightstamps.com
          http://www.fraterdeus.com |* + * + * + Rubber Stamp Fine Art!

          http://www.semiotx.com Web Strategy Consulting < * > Mac OS X
          "Words that work."(tm) Communication Design and Typography


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        • Charles Jones
          Would those on the list recommend a Heidelberg cylinder press? I have the chance to get one. We are using a vandercook Univ. III at present. Charlie
          Message 4 of 26 , May 1, 2003
            Would those on the list recommend a Heidelberg cylinder press? I have the
            chance to get one. We are using a vandercook Univ. III at present. Charlie
          • Charles Jones
            I understand that the Medici Family of Florence would not support the establishment of a press in the late 1500 s because it would was felt that books printed
            Message 5 of 26 , May 1, 2003
              I understand that the Medici Family of Florence would not support the
              establishment of a press in the late 1500's because it would was felt that
              books printed from type, that new fangled'stuff would somehow lessen the
              value of their collection of hand illuminated and lettered books. We need,
              as so many have eloqeuntly said, realize that tools are tools and not the
              result. I belonged to a letterpress guild for a year or two during which
              time I received a bundle of work printed from type each month. There was
              some good but most was poorly designed and often times badly printed.
              Cheers, Charlie
            • Kathleen Whalen
              Unreservedly YES! In England the private presses Fleece, Whittington and the late lamented Rocket Press, all use Heidelberg cylinders if you d like to see the
              Message 6 of 26 , May 1, 2003
                Unreservedly YES! In England the private presses Fleece, Whittington and the
                late lamented Rocket Press, all use Heidelberg cylinders if you'd like to
                see the sort of work that small publishers are producing on these machines.


                Graham Moss
                Incline Press
                11A Printer Street
                Oldham OL1 1PN England
                (44) 0161 627 1966
                http://www.inclinepress.com


                > From: Charles Jones <cjones@...>
                > Reply-To: PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
                > Date: Thu, 01 May 2003 12:11:01 -0500
                > To: PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
                > Subject: Re: [PPLetterpress] Real press?
                >
                > Would those on the list recommend a Heidelberg cylinder press? I have the
                > chance to get one. We are using a vandercook Univ. III at present. Charlie
                >
              • funquie
                ... I d beg to differ. From what I ve read of Rogers (in his own words, and those of his biographers and friends) he thought Offset printing was, although a
                Message 7 of 26 , May 1, 2003
                  "Paul W Romaine" wrote:


                  > Would Bruce Rogers or Daniel Berkeley Updike have jumped at
                  > photopolymer, digital composition and modern offset? You bet!

                  I'd beg to differ. From what I've read of Rogers (in his own words,
                  and those of his biographers and friends) he thought Offset printing
                  was, although a boon for the printing "industry", a curse on the
                  printing "art". It's product is cold, sterile, flat, and without
                  tactile "real-ness"...

                  All that said, you can't get good color photos in a publication with
                  lettepress technology...


                  > a certain feel and ... for lack of a better term, "zen" to setting
                  > foundry type.

                  Yes, I agree. Although I've been working with computers since
                  "PageMaker v.1.0", and can set electronic type with the best of them
                  (gotta love those AdobeExpert Sets!), there is something meditative
                  about setting lead type by hand. The rhythmic click of lead alloy on
                  steel, the preassure of the thumb in a composing stick, the swinging
                  of the arm from case to stick--it IS a very Zen activity. Setting type
                  by hand is all about "REAL-NESS"--metal, ink, clacking steel and iron,
                  letters and images being forcibly impressed into paper. Letterpress
                  printing produces a real, tangible, eternal THING.

                  Whereas, setting type on computers is all about illusion. Bits and
                  bytes, transitory signals through wires, lasers, static charges, toner
                  on paper which will crumble away in a few decades. Modern printing is
                  fleeting, impermanent, and transitory.



                  > May I quibble? Gutenberg's invention had the *potential* to bring
                  > books, pardons, printed forms, posters, newspapers, playbills...

                  Although modern free-thinking individuals might speculate that the
                  Press had tremendous potential to free the common man, it in fact only
                  aided to his further enslavement, subjugation, and oppression. The
                  Press brought mass-produceable printed messages, and with it,, the
                  easy dissemination of ever-increasing laws, beaurocracy, and
                  government regulations of everything from what texts were printed, to
                  how many chickens you were allowed to own if you were of a certain
                  religion...

                  The press brought things like censorship, beaurocracy, genocide (based
                  on census data) and propaganda into ubiquity.

                  The press, in fact, could be touted as the single most insideous
                  instrument of human subjugation since the sword or spear...

                  I've been doing letterpress for about 2 years. I did a little in
                  college (a few decades ago, printing posters for the Theatre Dept.
                  with wood type on a little flatbed poster press.) I also do a LOT of
                  computer typesetting. The shop where I currently work prints mostly
                  offset, with plates we make directly from our computer files.

                  I wish they made "relief" plate material for our Direct-To-Plate
                  machine. To be able to make my own plates for the Heidelberg from
                  files on my mac, and have them spit out in a matter of minutes would
                  be heavenly, but alas, it is not to be...

                  I love my Mac. I love Quark and Photoshop and Illustrator. I love
                  well-crafted digital type (which is, unfortunately, in the vast
                  MINORITY in the hundreds of currently available digital typefaces.)

                  But there is something very special and almost mystical about pulling
                  some slightly over-preassure prints, set in ATF Caslon Old Style on
                  Rives BFK Medium from the platen of my 1912 C&P 10x15 Old Series
                  press--a feeling, both magical and tangible that I doubt we will ever
                  be able to elicit from modern digital techno-printing, no matter how
                  high the resolution, how advanced the pigments, or how sophisticated
                  the software becomes...

                  And so I set type, and print. And I use Photopolymer plates too
                  because it lets me use techniques and tricks on Letterpress that are
                  otherwise impossible (or maddening) to achieve. Like "text-on-a-curve"
                  or sophisticated separations, or strange type manipulation.

                  But no matte what I do on my computer, when it comes to printing type,
                  it will ALWAYS (in my opinion) look better if printed by a relief
                  process. I'm sure the folks at Ryobi, Heidelberg, and Komori think
                  differently, but they are just too dazzled by the technology to see
                  the subtle beauty of "real printing"...

                  That's just my opinion, though. YMMV...

                  --Richard Creighton
                  "Dreamer Press"
                  Martinsburg WV
                • funquie
                  ... According to an associate of mine who used to work for the US Dept of Treasury, Heidelberg Cylinders are about as close as you can get to the presses they
                  Message 8 of 26 , May 1, 2003
                    Charles Jones wrote:

                    > Would those on the list recommend a Heidelberg cylinder press?
                    > I have the chance to get one.

                    According to an associate of mine who used to work for the US Dept of
                    Treasury, Heidelberg Cylinders are about as close as you can get to
                    the presses they use to print US currency, in quality of image,
                    reliability, and durability. I've already decided that after I get a
                    Windmill, my first flatbed cylinder with be, without a doubt, a
                    Heidelberg. But that's WAY down the line. First, I need a Kingsley
                    foiler, a bigger C&P Old Series, a C&P Craftsman, and I have to build
                    a wood-frame/metal screw Franklin/Common press...

                    Yes, I'm relatively young (37) very ambition, and still have stars in
                    my eyes. My attitude is explained by the name my girlfriend came up
                    with for my shop... :)

                    --Richard Creighton
                    "Dreamer Press"
                    Martinsburg WV
                  • The Indian Hill Press
                    By all means grab the Heidelberg cylinder. We use ours almost daily, and with ever more admiration for the fantastic engineering. One warning, however. These
                    Message 9 of 26 , May 1, 2003
                      By all means grab the Heidelberg cylinder. We use ours almost daily,
                      and with ever more admiration for the fantastic engineering.

                      One warning, however. These machines are built like the Pyramids. Our
                      KSBA weighs in at about 6,600 pounds - and ours is the baby of the
                      family. It takes a real pro to move a Heidelberg - forget the
                      crowbars and pipe rollers!

                      Dan Waters
                      Indian Hill Press

                      >Would those on the list recommend a Heidelberg cylinder press? I have the
                      >chance to get one. We are using a vandercook Univ. III at present. Charlie
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      >ï To respond to a post or post a message to the membership:
                      >PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
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                      >
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                    • thronobulx@aol.com
                      Tell it like it is, Fritz! James Shanley B Designs [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      Message 10 of 26 , May 1, 2003
                        Tell it like it is, Fritz!

                        James Shanley
                        B Designs


                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • thronobulx@aol.com
                        While I have nothing but total admiration and respect for Dan Waters as New-England s preeminent folk poet and master printer, I must beg to differ. Under no
                        Message 11 of 26 , May 1, 2003
                          While I have nothing but total admiration and respect for Dan Waters as
                          New-England's preeminent folk poet and master printer, I must beg to differ.

                          Under no circumstances should you procure that Heidelberg cylinder press!
                          Have it sent directly to my shop so that I may suffer appropriately for all
                          my past, present and future sins. This is my only hope of salvation.

                          Thank you for helping me atone.

                          James Shanley
                          B Designs.


                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • Charles Jones
                          ... I am making the arrangements as I type. Look for it on your birthday! All 3 tons of it. And a good morning to all, Charlie
                          Message 12 of 26 , May 2, 2003
                            On 5/1/03 9:31 PM, "thronobulx@..." <thronobulx@...> wrote:

                            > While I have nothing but total admiration and respect for Dan Waters as
                            > New-England's preeminent folk poet and master printer, I must beg to differ.
                            >
                            > Under no circumstances should you procure that Heidelberg cylinder press!
                            > Have it sent directly to my shop so that I may suffer appropriately for all
                            > my past, present and future sins. This is my only hope of salvation.
                            >
                            > Thank you for helping me atone.
                            >
                            > James Shanley
                            > B Designs.
                            >
                            >
                            > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                            >
                            >
                            >
                            > ? To respond to a post or post a message to the membership:
                            > PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com
                            > ? Encountering problems? contact:
                            > PPLetterpress-owner@yahoogroups.com
                            > ? To unsubscribe:
                            > PPLetterpress-unsubscribe@yahoogroups.com
                            >
                            > Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
                            >
                            >
                            I am making the arrangements as I type. Look for it on your birthday! All
                            3 tons of it. And a good morning to all, Charlie
                          • Charles Jones
                            ... This press has been converted for die-cutting and embossing. It was built in 1950 and came from Buckingham Palace according to the auction house s
                            Message 13 of 26 , May 2, 2003
                              On 5/1/03 4:38 PM, "The Indian Hill Press" <mail@...> wrote:

                              > By all means grab the Heidelberg cylinder. We use ours almost daily,
                              > and with ever more admiration for the fantastic engineering.
                              >
                              > One warning, however. These machines are built like the Pyramids. Our
                              > KSBA weighs in at about 6,600 pounds - and ours is the baby of the
                              > family. It takes a real pro to move a Heidelberg - forget the
                              > crowbars and pipe rollers!
                              >
                              > Dan Waters
                              > Indian Hill Press
                              >
                              This press has been converted for die-cutting and embossing. It was built
                              in 1950 and came from Buckingham Palace according to the auction house's
                              information. Is it costly and or difficult to convert it back to
                              letterpress?
                              I appreciate anything you folks can tell me. Cheers, Charlie
                            • Fritz Klinke
                              Serial numbers 196 through 1240 are attributed to 1950, the first year of S line Heidelberg cylinders (Wieslock plant). A converted press usually means the
                              Message 14 of 26 , May 2, 2003
                                Serial numbers 196 through 1240 are attributed to 1950, the first year of S
                                line Heidelberg cylinders (Wieslock plant). A converted press usually means
                                the "inkers," as the non-letterpress folks call the ink fountain/ink roller
                                assembly, have been removed and other changes mean that it is impossible to
                                reconfigure a true converted press. Additionally, most press beds, which are
                                made of relatively soft cast iron, are usually milled down to accept a
                                harder steel bed plate as steel rule will dent a regular bed. Have someone
                                who is knowledgeable about Heidelberg cylinders look at it, but I doubt you
                                would be able to print with this press.

                                In the US, firms like Hicks Brothers, Demers, and Whittenberg regularly
                                convert Heidelberg cylinders ("printers") to diecutters and trash the inking
                                assemblies. I remember seeing an ink fountain off a KSBA sticking out of the
                                dumpster in back of Hicks Brothers several years ago when I visited their
                                plant in San Francisco. There was also a large stack of Heidelberg ink
                                rollers waiting to be picked up by the trash people. There is no demand
                                commercially for Heidelberg cylinders for printing, but there is a steady
                                market for die cutters, and the larger sizes command premium prices.

                                Fritz Klinke, NA Graphics
                                1314 Greene Street, P.O. Box 467
                                Silverton, Colorado 81433 USA
                                970-387-0212, fax 970-387-0127
                                nagraph@...

                                ----- Original Message -----
                                From: "Charles Jones" <cjones@...>
                                To: <PPLetterpress@yahoogroups.com>
                                Sent: Friday, May 02, 2003 10:03 AM
                                Subject: Re: [PPLetterpress] Real press has been converted


                                On 5/1/03 4:38 PM, "The Indian Hill Press" <mail@...> wrote:

                                > By all means grab the Heidelberg cylinder. We use ours almost daily,
                                > and with ever more admiration for the fantastic engineering.
                                >
                                > One warning, however. These machines are built like the Pyramids. Our
                                > KSBA weighs in at about 6,600 pounds - and ours is the baby of the
                                > family. It takes a real pro to move a Heidelberg - forget the
                                > crowbars and pipe rollers!
                                >
                                > Dan Waters
                                > Indian Hill Press
                                >
                                This press has been converted for die-cutting and embossing. It was built
                                in 1950 and came from Buckingham Palace according to the auction house's
                                information. Is it costly and or difficult to convert it back to
                                letterpress?
                                I appreciate anything you folks can tell me. Cheers, Charlie



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                              • Charles Jones
                                Thank you Fritz, I was afraid that was the case. I will still go and have a look at the remains of the two shops. Cheers, Charlie
                                Message 15 of 26 , May 2, 2003
                                  Thank you Fritz,
                                  I was afraid that was the case. I will still go and have a look at the
                                  remains of the two shops. Cheers, Charlie
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