Pressed Letters Printing, Australia – Video

William Amer sent in this video of his letterpress print shop, that was selected for the Sydney Film Festival, 2015.

Says William: “My claim to fame is that since 2009, there is finally a printer in the heritage village of Rockley, mid west NSW. And it is a Yorkshire born tradesman that’s done it. My wife’s historical research tells us that I am the only one, ever!

While I’ve reduced my student intake to only the most likely students, I still do train in the Art. Students need to go through a rigorous testing, as I did so many years ago, to learn from me.

Real Tradesmen & Women

I might even claim that being an original tradesman, my shop is truly first generation teaching, and not a University knock-off pretending to teach. I might even claim that my classes are comprehensive and can produce real tradesmen and women and I believe the only real school in NSW.

Amberly and Florent were the makers, Two Lands. I thank them continually for the time they spent making this video.”

10 thoughts on “Pressed Letters Printing, Australia – Video”

  1. Well Done William, keeping the art alive. Thrilled to see an old Elrod still in use. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven!!!

    1. Thanks Dave. All the way through my life, the comfort and perceived security has been a tonic and counsel knowing that I always had the capacity to feed and house my family. What is your connection to letterpress? Will

      1. I did a City & Guilds apprenticeship in letterpress composition, starting in 1976. Worked on the Yorkshire Evening Press and South London Press as a Lino op, trained over to photo comp but didn’t enjoy it as much.
        Also a Yorkshireman.

    2. Sorry William, I got it wrong, it’s a Ludlow headline machine, not an Elrod. The old memory box playing tricks again. I served my apprenticeship on a local newspaper in the North East of England. Mainly as a display compositor setting adverts that were not lineage. Now I spend my time at a museum showing the public how we used to print in the “olden days”, setting type by hand, locking it up in a chase and printing on an old Albion press. Ah Happy Days!!!!

      1. Yes, Dave it is a Ludlow, I didn’t want to contradict you. Interesting it has a self cooling system with a well of coolant and water being pumped around the system. I would suspect made for small and isolated print shops. As such my range of fonts goes from 6pt No3, Lining Gothic and all sizes up to 72pt Bold Condensed faces. Now that I have installed “on the roof” solar supply the cost of electricity is zero. It would be a dream to get hold of an Albion or the like. I remember being offered a Quad Crown handfed, stick flyer cylinder once, but didn’t have the money to move it, or a place to put it.

  2. Will – a joy to watch your short video as I sit here in my shop, surrounded by Hamilton cabinets filled with ATF type, a Windmill nearby to earn money with, a hand-fed C&P for short runs and fun, some Vandercooks, a table filled with Kelseys (and an Adana, as well to be fair to the Caslon family)..

    I, too, have found that instead of being a “has-been old letterpress printer”, I am considered by some to be an effin’ guru! Yes. It’s great fun to pass on the skills of a hand-comp to young folks who think “typesetting” is something done on the computer… And I never neglect to point out to them that “there is no ‘print’ button on a letterpress”.

    Joy to you in your endeavors – and to those lucky folks who are learning from you just what it is that we have done and enjoyed doing for so many years…

    Spent the morning organizing n.o.s. fonts – still in their foundry wrappers – onto galleys so that I can finally see what I have there… And, now that my break is over, I think I’ll pack up some supplies to ship to new printers in need of small amounts of ink, tympan, etc…

    After that… well, we’ll see what needs to be done… sort type, run a job on the Heidelberg, print some samples on the Pilot… basically, “whatever suits my fancy” Ah, life is good at 67. Semi-retired – but only “semi” – there’s still lots of work to be done…

    Alan Runfeldt
    Excelsior Press Museum Print Shop
    Frenchtown, NJ USA

    1. Thanks Alan. Life is just that much more complete when there is something to occupy the hand and mind, and on worthy issues.

  3. Yes, Dave, I never quite got into Photocomposition. As technology changed I went into the office, Costing, Estimating, Production planning and general punching bag to the Boss!

  4. If there is one thing I regret, that is giving all my letterpress equipment to someone who did not appreciate it.
    Thank you so much for the video. Iv’e watched it three times in the last hour, and bet I look at it again.
    I served a six years apprenticeship. The first three years at Spicers in London. This firm moved out of London so they had to find us apps a firm that would continue our apprenticeship. They found me a firm called Waddington’s who are famous for their board games like Monopoly. I later worked in several firms in and around London which really was just an extension of my apprenticeship I thought. Have to say I enjoyed every day of my letterpress days. I could never like Litho printing but like so many of us, had no other option, but letterpress will always be in my blood.
    Thanks again for a great posting of your video.

    1. Hello, Roy! My hands start to tingle if I’m off the machinery for too long, it happens in the cold of Winter and heat of Summer in mid west NSW. All this conversation has reminded me of when my father occasionally took me to his work place, in Nottingham, Boots was the place, at the end of Bernard Street, Carrington. Howzat! for a memory, 65yrs later! Regarding Apprenticeships, we too were attached to one firm for 4 years, but now apprenticeships in general, move people to several place during their time for a wider experience, which I think is good.

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