Traditional Book Arts Museum and Printing Office
Curator / Director: John M. Jenkins
Funded privately and by donations
Office: (970) 686-5325
American printing history, restoring old equipment, educational workshops, a newsletter, printing projects
The Traditional Book Arts Museum and Printing Office is a resource for old letterpress printing machines and information on printing history, with a focus on the American west. The typical job printing and newspaper office, circa 1910, is the setting. Every office had its arrangement of essential office and printing equipment for getting out the daily or weekly newspaper. This included the Linotype, the cylinder press, a typewriter, a proof press, an old wall phone, an adding machine, and various other items. This basic arrangement could still be found in a few printing shops around the country, up into the 1990s. Even today, at least two still exist and produce a newspaper or a periodical using Linotype and letterpress. But the letterpress tradition was scrapped wholesale in the 1970s and 80s as offset and then digital computer-set took over.
Since the early 1990s we have lived through an information revolution. The internet, cell phones, friends networks, and digital books have catapulted us into a new era of information technology. The glory days of the letterpress printing machines are gone. The machines continue to turn up only to be scrapped for lack of interest or commitment in saving them.
The mission of the Traditional Book Arts Museum and Printing Office is to teach, preserve antique printing machines, research printing presses and printing history, produce a newspaper, and to display and use the tools and paraphernalia of the related book arts.
The development of the Traditional Book Arts Museum and Printing Office has gone through several stages of development. It began with the establishment of Oak Root Press in 2007, followed by the Acorn Anchor Book Arts Studio in 2008, in Fort Collins. With the acquisition of a genuine newspaper press (the Campbell "Century Pony") in March of 2011, I strategized producing a bi-annual old-style newspaper. My ongoing meetings with local letterpress printers and enthusiasts led to conceiving The Printing Office Museum, est. 2011, to share space and equipment with others in the community. A webpage write-up of September 2011 stated:
Acorn Anchor Book Arts Studio becomes The Printing Office Museum because it is part museum (emulating an early 1900s Printing Office), part restoration shop, and partly a working vintage print shop. Its centerpiece is an 1890s Campbell “Century Pony” newspaper press from Leadville, Colorado, which will produce a bi-annual newspaper.
Projects: CD cover for The Holler!, a wedding announcement, anniversary and birthday cards, small posters, poetry broadsides, business cards, a letterpress book cover.
Offering subscriptions for the bi-annual newspaper, The Noco New Courier, in support of The Printing Office Museum. $35 annually (many other letterpress items included!).
By late 2012 discussions began with a local bookstore owner about collaborating on a new letterpress cafe and event space in town, to include two of my printing presses that I would maintain and operate, also giving classes. I had suggested the idea several years ago, about producing a local newspaper old-style with letterpress equipment. In early 2013 I reformulated my concept, intending to go non-profit, as the Traditional Book Arts Museum and Printing Office. In July of 2013 I ran off the first newspaper-page-sized test print on the old Campbell press, having hand set a mock page with type and cuts and ornaments. It looked like The Noco (Northern Colorado) New Courier was going to be a reality.