Sunday, October 21, 2012

Highlights of the Year, and a Teeny Tiny Souvenir

The seller claimed it was 70 years old, and I think he might be right: this exact printers' block seems to have been used for Paillard ads like this one

For scale, here it is next to J's discovery: a yellow Victorinox Alox First Mate (Swiss Army Knife with marlinspike).

If you are wondering what the actual Hermes 2000 that this die was modeled on looks like, Richard has one on his site photographed from a remarkably similar angle: 

And here is the engraving, a very close mirror image of Richard's picture. Anyone know how best I can get a good print from this? Obviously naively treating it like a rubber stamp is yielding suboptimal results...


  1. My god...some amazing finds this year for you! QUALITY over quantity, to be sure. A Graphika, Continental portable and Studio 42 are up there on my 'want' list, so congrats. I really love the type of that Graphika!

    The printer's block is neat as well. I, too, have wondered how it would compare to a rubber stamp whenever I see them come up on eBay. I would be interested to hear what the others suggest.

  2. Very nice finds! That Continental is super and I really like the Swissa font also. One day as I find room my wish list will get shorter and my collection will get larger. Until then, like you, I must curb my buying habits.

  3. That is a neat little printer's block! I have one representing an early Remington portable and have had the same trouble getting it to print. It just doesn't soak up inkpad ink the way rubber does. I've also used it to leave an imprint on sealing wax, but it's too shallow to be very impressive.

  4. very nice! I would have jumped on that too! I always love that Graphika.

  5. I remember that time when you found your Graphika; it was exciting that you snagged it shortly after Richard issued a caveat that it was rare and that it was unlikely the typosphere could find one. Then your post further fueled my own search for a Lexikon 80 and I landed one shortly after. Typewriter mania is contagious, you know. (:

    That Hermes 2000 copper letterpress is very cool.

    (Sorry about the deletion, there were just too many errors!)

  6. I see you like uncommon typewriters. I have a Mercedes Superba that I am looking to get rid of. Interested? It's in superb condition. Stay Classy,

    Will at

  7. Well, what you need is letterpress ink and something that can exert a pretty serious amount of force, since the block is meant for a letterpress. I suggest rolling some litho ink onto the block with a roller and making your impression using a C-clamp or something similar.

  8. @Ken: Thanks; I have allowed myself to acknowledge the fact that the ones I leave behind never haunt me as much as I used to think they might. This makes it easier to turn down less exciting finds.

    @Bill: The Continental is pretty nice but awfully loud... must fish out my Typ-Fix (rubberized paper sheet for dulling the sound) that I brought home some time ago.

    @Richard: The sealing wax sounds like a great idea; pity it has the same limitations as the inkpad-on-paper method. Do you have a picture of your printer's block on your site? It would be neat to see it - were you also able to track down the newspaper ad it was originally used for?

    @notagain: Yes, I wanted to leave the fair not empty-handed but not burdened by a typewriter either, as I was going shopping afterwards. This was a nice compromise and a great memento.

    @Ton: Typewriter mania is awfully contagious! The desire of mine you're fueling at the moment is for an ICO, but none have turned up around these parts for a good price, so I'm safe. Whew.

    @Will: You must not have realized how plentiful Mercedes typewriters are in Europe... I think I'll pass, thanks.

    @Ted: Off to look up "litho ink" and "C-clamp"... yay, technical terms :) Complete n00b at letterpress, obviously. It would be nice to use this to make letterheads, though, maybe that will inspire me to pick up the correspondence I have allowed to lapse... tsk, tsk.

  9. I recently experimented with ink for metal printing. You indeed need a special ink to do so. There is basically the ink for printing from rubber, and a second type for printing from steel. Wait for the mail this week.
    See how it went for me:

  10. For letterpress printing you really need letterpress printing ink, but not many supply it now. Litho ink usually works but sometimes the consistency has to be adjusted. Lino printing ink from an art supplier may work okay. Oil-based is best.

    Squeeze a few blobs on a sheet of glass or a glazed tile, roll it out with a rubber roller to an even consistency and flatness. There is an art to getting the right "tack". Usually it is right when the gloss turns to a soft dull sheen and the sound of the suck of the ink of the roller evens out. Then you roll onto the block from several directions to get a good thin coat.

    Ideally you'd want the block set up in a small press but you might try the old lino-printing trick of laying the paper on the block, holding it in position as well as you can, and burnishing on the back with the round part of a dessert spoon. Trouble with this is that the paper is likely to move, but if you're careful you might have good results.


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