We recently took a trip down south and visited a little town an hour and a bit outside of Melbourne.
We met a lovely old bloke who had a veritable treasure trove of beautiful antique letterpress printers, guillotines, woodblocks and… junk. Though the term junk is speculative, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure and one man’s antique printing press is another man’s junk. Either way you look at it, his shed was crammed with both.
Our guide led us through, under and over the top of various odds and ends, showing us a vast array of interesting things. There were trays upon trays of wood and metal type, in various states of organisation, drawers full of amazing metal plates, an old piano and even a fridge full of bubble jet printers. (If anyone can identify the press below, please let us know in the comments.)
He led us to his pride and joy, an old British Thompson Platen press. It still had a die cutting job locked up, and though he assured us that the press still ran we didn’t actually see it in action. One piece of equipment that caught our eye in particular was a massive foot treadled, Diamond brand guillotine (which would surely cut your hands clean off without a safety guard).
After Jenna posed with our guide, and we all noted how they dressed like twins, we thanked him for his kind tour. He looked bemused and smiled, apparently this was not the end of the line. We followed him through another narrow doorway and down a crowded hallway into to an even bigger space.
Here we found a whole gang of Linotype / Intertype machines, amongst two Triumph cars and five more Thompsons. There were countless other machines all in varying states of disrepair, that we could see but couldn’t get to. Each machine was ‘neatly’ packed in side by side, row upon row, with the help of an electronic roof mounted crane, hook and pulley system (which has since seized up). Sadly, none of these machines will be going anywhere in a hurry.
After traipsing through the steel jungle for almost two hours, our guide had one final treasure to share. He pulled out a letterpress type specimen book, which was filled with examples of amazing typography, press specifications and equipment, a truly rare book. It was here that we said goodbye. Hopefully our first of many visits!