Last semester I was fortunate to hear about some letterpress equipment for sale not too far from Green Bay. (Thanks BJ!) The equipment was part of the collection of Color Graphics Ltd., a printshop in Waupaca, WI, run by the late Tim Lager, that did commercial letterpress and offset lithography for decades. Mr. Lager had died and the property gone to a nearby bank for sale. We were able to purchase a handsome Hamilton type cabinet and composing table for our college printshop.
We also picked up boxes of specialty paper, a corner rounder (my favorite!), printing inks, a roll of rub lith masking film, and other related printing materials. It was a heady trip. The shop had been cranking along for decades and every shelf was crammed full of paper, notes, ink, tools, machine parts, and so on. We were furiously packing up the type, picking through the paper for that which would best serve our shop, and generally scavenging through the remnants of this once thriving business.
In one of the two basements full of equipment, I found Mr. Lager’s toolbox marked with his name. I stopped there and silently thanked him for the legacy of his shop. For what these supplies might mean to the students who will come through our program. For all the work they will help produce. For all the hours he put in making his work and keeping things cranking.
In light of appreciating his work, it was sweet to get to take home the Color Graphics sign from outside the building. It’s now hanging in a stairwell in our building. In a couple of years, the SNC students who went on the trip to collect these materials will be gone, and the sign will likely seem a little more random. I’d like to think that it’s presence will bless us with the same productivity of the original shop.
Now to finish cleaning and putting away all these wonderful tools before the spring printmaking courses start!