Letterpress Shop Miscellany

What is being offered for sale are a few (authentic—unique—now one-of-a-kind) things left from a long-ago closed (book-publications-graphic-activist) designer’s letterpress shop in Washington, DC, that have been stored-moved-and-stored-again since the 1980’s. They are currently in Richmond, VA (pickup there), and it is time they go. These things rarely come on the market today and are genuine diamonds in the rough:

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(I) Hamilton No. 29, Square Leg Imposing Stone Frame, with drawer, $3000/obo

A (rare-antique) Hamilton printer’s wooden and stone imposing table, No. 29 (or same as Frame No. 62?), with drawer. It is approx 54” wide x 32” deep x 39” tall, and all very heavy, especially the top with the inset stone. The base has a push-thru drawer and (not shown but with) base shelf board, as seen in the small inset photos of another No. 29.

This table was used to lock type into the chase for letterpress printing and as such was the central work space between the typesetting and the printing parts of the print shop. It is well-over a century old, possibly 19th Century. (It could find use in the office, shop or home, and would make an imposing kitchen tool.)

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(II) Lot of 36 Letterpress Lead-Type Job Cases, $2400/obo

These increasingly rare antique typesetters cases once each held all of the lead letters, numbers and punctuation marks of a single font, size and style (in case you on this website and don’t know).

All these are the most-used standard case sizes, approx 32-1/4” wide by either 16-5/8 or 23 inches deep. Most of them are likely California Job Case layout, which was the usual typesetter’s case layout geared to frequency of lower-case letters in English; a few are indexed electrotype or cut layout drawers and some are dividers for other rules, perfing rules, etc. These were stored after being emptied of the type, rules, etc., whatever was intact is still intact and no one has changed them in any way.

The cases were cross-stacked when stored last and the photos show only the one side (with the most handles visible). From what is showing, three or more cases were manufactured by Hamilton with their very collectible No. 1 Handles; at least one is an extremely rare 19th Century R. Hoe & Co. case with handle. Some of these cases are quite early—from around 1870-1880 before handles became popular. A great many of these cases followed the standards-setting Hamilton “New Departure” layouts if not all their construction standards.

As can be seen from the case labels, many of the fonts in these cases were from MacKellar, Smiths, and Jordan, Philadelphia, PA, which manufactured from 1867 to 1892 and thence was part of ATF; and some fonts were from the earlier foundry Binney & Ronaldson, 1796-1833, which later evolved into MSJ. In the 1970’s, when forced by life to dispose of the ton of lead type, Elizabeth Harris, then Curator of Graphic Arts in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, was given whichever of the actual lead fonts from these cases they wanted for their collections.

I would like to sell these as a lot but may have to separate them if unsatisfactory responses. Priced for the aware specialist collector and for the crafty enterprising maker who could easily double their investment: simply tart them up and sell them individually or as connected series’s, but a newly-minted printer could also refill them with type and use them. Some of them individually are likely worth much more to collectors, or museums, who specialize in these industries, companies, or things.

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(III) Angled Reglet or Letterpress Table-top Furniture Cabinet, $2000/obo

A very rare, late 19th or early 20th Century, antique table-top reglet, or letterpress furniture, cabinet. It is very similar to other angled cabinets of that period, such as the Hamilton No. 12 Standard Furniture or Hamilton No. 6 Reglet Case. However, it is unmarked by either Hamilton Furniture or Thompson Cabinet Company but, notably, which ever manufacturer did make it has attached debossed stamped metal number plates for widths and lengths along left side and top of the front. It is about 18” wide x 18” deep at base x 24” tall.

Best Contact: Until sold these items are also being listed under “antiques” in Craigslist, Washington, DC, as “Letterpress Shop Miscellany”.

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image: catalog imposing table.png

catalog imposing table.png

image: table base drawer handle side w inset.png

table base drawer handle side w inset.png

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table base no drawer handle side w inset.png

image: bottom of composing table w inset.png

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pull-thru drawer from backside showing loose bottom pieces.png

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Hamilton composing table drawer handle.png

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