Letterpress, print, type

On Being a Blockhead

Today, a very kindly soul gave me some old printing blocks. Muchos gracias Pedro. They are pretty dirty and a bit beaten up, but they are kind of cool and make for good images. I may clean up one or two and get some prints off at some point. Actually I will print all of them, but I may only clean a couple, because I like these old blocks to retain as much of their accumulated grime; old printing ephemera shouldn’t look new as it’s part of their charm. The biggest of them (shown above)  is 74x80x24mm and as always, I’ve put in some close-ups. Enjoy.

That is some serious crud in there! I guess its just like bellybutton fluff; no-one know how it gets in there, or where it comes from, but you wake up one day to find enough gunk in there you wonder if some small mammal has been hibernating for the winter. Is there a technical term for this build up of grime? Hmmm. Press bellybutton fluff? Typographic earwax?

Another Christmas message, this time with the addition of some holly and candles and a rogue splash of red paint.

The script is quite elegant, in a cheesy christmas card sort of way, but the lowercase ‘e’ really stands out (sorry, pardon the pun!)

And I didn’t notice the damage to the ‘d’  until I reviewed the photographs.

Another christmas greeting, this time with seasonal typography by Joseph Goebbels!

I can’t help thinking that this was made for a 1970’s heavy metal  album cover…

The last of the christmas greetings. I have run out of things to say about christmas greetings, so take a look at the swirl on the initial capital ‘S’. Very, erm, swirly.

I wonder how many cards these blocks have created during their working lives?

This smaller block (50x50x24mm) depicts a floral wreath with condolence card.

The little message on the card is just over 8mm across!

The detail is really fine – these flowers are around 5mm diameter.

The next block is a decorative ruled header, probably part of a set to make the borders for small press advertising, about 100mm long.

It isn’t particularly interesting, but has some nice qualities in the close-ups and should make a good print pressure tester as I’ll be able to refer to the quality of the lines when setting up.

All the blocks shown so far are alloy plates secured by rivets to blockboard or solid wood, but this one is a solid alloy block, making it significantly heavier than all of the others.

I’m looking forward to using this; it is clean with a deep cut and will give a good crisp print. It is so clean that it may never have been used before.

The last block is also cast, but the body is ribbed to reduce the overall mass. The pattern is only 5mm high with an overall length of about 125mm.

This last image is of a new addition to my type collection – a 10pt ‘@’ symbol, sadly lacking in most of the founts I’ve seen on sale recently. I love the detail and now I can print my email address! I am such a geek…

Well, this is probably a very dull post for most of you, but I can be excused as I have a headful of the cold and my brain feels like its floating in snot.

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