Harold E. Sterne

Harold E. Sterne (APA 502) died October 2 at age 81. Hal who co-founded NA Graphics is responsible for saving what remained of Vandercook—its records and parts inventory—from being dumped when he bought what was then called Vandersons. For this and for helping to develop the earliest version of this website and for writing the article “A Short History of Vandercook” the Vandercook community is better informed.

Hal and his friend Tom bell founded NA Graphics in 1992 to sell printing supplies. Then both retired, they ran the company in Cincinnati, Ohio until selling it in 1996 to Fritz Klinke of Silverton, Colorado where it operates today. Hal continued to be active in his second retirement as a hobbyist printer using handset type and cuts that he printed on his C&P and SP15. Hal’s story in his own words can be found on Lance Williams’ Letterpress Printers of the World. An obituary from the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Although Hal and I were frequent correspondents, we had only three opportunities to meet in person. The first was an invitation to his home (and shop) in Sarasota, Florida. There he gave me a few documents that he was saving to write a longer history of Vandercook. He said that it was up to me to do it now. I am working it now based in part on his research.

The second time we met, I invited him to attend my Vandercook Maintenance workshop at the Atlanta Printermakers Studio.  The mostly young women in attendance thought he looked adorable in his short sleeve coveralls, but more importantly he had useful interjections–which I encouraged–to share with the new printers. Shortly after this, his grown children approached APS with a donation creating a scholarship in his and his wife Judi’s name. Each year this scholarship provides an opportunity for two individuals to take a free class or workshop at APS.

The last time Hal and I met was at another of my workshops at the University of Tampa. Don Black was there as well. It was quite an event. We continued to stay in touch and he was very keen to hear about my travels especially since he considered me an agent for his plate gauge. He gave me one to demonstrate and I had a link on my website so people could order them from him. He was always pleased to make a sale. An entrepreneur to the end.

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Carl Mario Nudi
Carl Mario Nudi
13 years ago

Mr. Sterne will be greatly missed in the letterpress community. His knowledge of the craft and history was vast and detailed.
I first met Mr. Sterne on a invitation to visit to his shop in Sarasota, with three others from the Tampa Book Arts Studio. I remember every available space of the small room was filled top to bottom with type, cabinets, and equipment. He let us wander and explore as he answered questions or told stories of his long history in the industry. You could tell his was proud of his chosen life’s careers, especially the saving of the Vandercook equipment. I’ll remember that visit and the neat printing items I saw, but mostly the hospitality of Mr. Sterne.
Pictures of our visit are posted on the Tampa Book Arts Studio blog: http://tampabookartsstudio.blogspot.com/

michael babcock
13 years ago

This is sad news.

Hal was very generous to me when I first started interrobang in 1992. He graciously allowed me to pay for type rescued from the ATF auction in several installments and I always appreciated that fact.

We’re all fortunate that he was enthusiastic enough about genuine letterpress that he saw it through that dark period in the early 90s when things could have been lost for ever without such a shepherd.


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