Re: Reissue effects on the second hand market
- I have given away several original editions of General Printing to
newcomers. It is by far the best guide for the beginning student,
but the current prices are far beyond anything I paid (about 18.00
The current print-on-demand Liberapertus edition should be welcomed
by newcomers. Collectors of original editions will just have to
bear the brunt of supply & demand. Current prices are a low of
75.00 for a 1st edition (1941) from one dealer & 349.95 for the
same editon from another dealer! It only takes one person to want
it so badly they will spring for the 349.95 copy! The madness of
this is not only that sellers overvalue some books, but that the
buyer also does. An ex-library copy, marked up with the usual rubber
stamps, is going for 160.00! Fortunately Matt Kelsey's reissue is
available to anyone.
The reason for this book assumes that people will continue to be
interested in setting lead type by hand & imposing into a press &
printing with it. The cost of setting up for this kind of printing
is quite large. Aside from the press, which must be purchased used,
moved & installed, there are a myriad of tools & materials nece-
ssary to the task. Then the types themselves are available, but
they aren't cheap. You need a lot of type to do anything like a
book, even two pages at a time; and these you will need in roman,
italic & at least a few sizes.
The argument for polymer plates is obvious; not only is the type
almost limitless in availability, it can be easily adapted in any
way you might want. Correcting the form in lead is much harder than
doing it in the little box in which I am now typing. Most of the
social printers, if not all, are now using polymer.
As long as there is some equipment & some type collections still
available, even though the suppliers may have disappeared entirely,
there will always be a niche & those able & desirous of filling it;
but there are still plenty of suppliers, & there are still plenty
of old presses. Anyone with patience & care will be able to do it.
Fine printing can be done by other means, & I think those who wish
to do it will eventually begin to think more toward the end result
& adapt the means to that end.
I recently mistook a print for a copper plate photogravure. It was
actually a 4x5 transparency imported to Photoshop, reduced to b/w
& printed on an Epson printer! If that level of quality can be had
by so simple a means why would you need an etching press unless the
you especially love the careful process of handwork. This is why I
still use hand-set type, but then I have a large amount of it to
I don't mean to argue between the so-called handcraft of metal type
& the mental-craft of polymer. Either the process itself is as im-
portant as the end result, or the process is secondary to the end
result. For many of us the process is as important as the end re-
sult. I recently listened as Tom Goglio described the making of a
master print of hand pulled stone lithography. There is something
beyond mechanical the happens in making art, & I believe it shows
in the work Tom does. He is sensitive & available to every nuance
as it develops on the stone & in inking. For my own part I do a
lot of "designing" in the bed of the press; I work with & change
things by hand. You might say I have a relationship with the pro-
I consider the social printers to be essentially manufacturers of
printed goods, which is what they intend. They may be great at de-
sign & do beautiful work, many of them do, but efficiency is their
key to success.
I don't know if there would ever be a market for "new presses" or
not. If I were to pay 15,000.00 for a press I would I consider
investing in a major antique with real value, i.e. a Columbian or
Albion, or even a Heidelberg which have resale value.
There are actually a huge number of old presses & other stuff in
the market. Not all of it is obvious, nor is it all available at
any given time, but it's there. Don Black Linecasting could set up
any printer overnight with nearly everything he could possibly
need. NA Graphics has fine ATF foundry types, inks, spacing stuff,
tools & more. NA's types are new, will last a lifetime, & any be-
ginner should start investing there now to build for their future.
I doubt anyone is interested in hearing this, but it's 3:15 in the
morning & time I stopped writing to myself.