Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Relics of a Bygone Era

See this drawer full of type?  Yeah, it's mine.  Do I have a "problem"?  Perhaps (especially when you realize that the photo doesn't show the whole drawer).  :D

I LOVE old type!  The wood type, the metal type - it doesn't matter, as long as I can rescue it.

I first got into block type about 5 years ago, when I saw some online.  I had never really encountered it before, which is odd considering I worked at a newspaper.  But by the time I got there, everything was Velox (the first time) or digital (the second time).

There is an antique store about a half-hour away from us that at one point had boxes and boxes of wooden type at first, and later, the lead stuff.  Once the letterpress craze hit, the wooden type was snatched up pretty fast.  It was far easier finding the lead letters and numbers, and LOTS of them!

I've talked about my love of type before, but I never showed you my own stash.  As you can see, I LOVE the numbers and letters.  But a few of the pieces I have are old advertising blocks, which I've stamped out for you to see.

The only drawback to these blocks is that they weren't made to be used by hand - a Linotype machine or letterpress were utilized for these beauts.  If one wants to use them by hand, like I have here, it helps to have a hammer or mallet on hand to tap the block a few times (I think a rubber mallet would work best).  Of course, you can see that the smaller blocks, like the completely awesome UL block and the un-PC Mannington block, work best because they're the easiest to maneuver.  They need a lot of pressure and the bigger blocks require a larger mallet (actually stepping on them, using a large phone book underneath, works too).

I've used the advertising blocks in a few of my pieces and I plan on utilizing them more - gotta keep these babies in rotation!


  1. Love the last collage/assemblage! WOW! They used to have a section in Somerset Studio with an exemplar! Why not enter it if they still do!?

  2. Oh thank you Annie! That's so sweet! They still have the exemplar, but isn't that just for hand-calligraphed lettering? If not, maybe I will! :D

  3. Mel, you have so many treasures from the past! Maybe, besides being an artist, you should open a little museum, LOL!

  4. Ha ha ha! Yes, Kristi - in my "spare" time! :D