Vandercook centenary

Given that next year 2009 is the Vandercook centenary I thought the occasion could be marked in some way – so I thought I’d get the ball rolling – there would appear to be 1011 presses out there at the last count, I wonder how many owners would consider a joint project where each would print something on the theme of 100 or centenary or Vandercook etc. with a view to creating a limited edition publication?

Just a thought – your input is welcome

John Christopher

20 thoughts on “Vandercook centenary

  1. Barbara Hauser - July 3, 2008

    I love John’s suggestion to include the type of paper used. There are so many kinds I’ve heard about but have never seen.

  2. john christopher - July 2, 2008

    Excellent – thanks very much Paul for taking on the collation and despatch.

  3. Paul Moxon, Moderator - July 2, 2008

    All good points and what I was looking for. Self addressed shipping labels would be a great help (thanks Barbara). Alas, here at the remote end of the world, I will likely be doing all the assembly and shipping alone. Yes, it would behoove us to print 110 copies for archiving and exhibition.

    Excellent question, John. The first 100 to pledge a commitment will be listed on a new galley page. Otherwise there is the potential for too many contributors and not enough prints (as unlikely as that sounds.) Perhaps posting jpegs of prints as the come in, would encourage early submissions.

    On further consideration, the participation fee will have to be higher. US Postal Service domestic flat rate boxes are $9.80 without tracking, the best value for the estimated weight, but there will be another rate increase in the near future. For now their boxes are free, but I will still need stationery boxes for each set. Perhaps $15.00 for North America and $40 International (the last quote I got for shipping to NZ was $38) payable by check or PayPal? Ugh, my head hurts.

  4. john christopher - July 2, 2008

    Paul – just to clarify, how are the 100 participants to be chosen:

    the first 100 to acknowledge the announcement by email to yourself and pledge a commitment


    the first 100 contributors to send their prints?

    John Christopher

  5. john christopher - July 2, 2008

    Paul – I’m assuming overseas contributors like myself will have to pay extra for postage and packing – that’s fine.

    On the parameters – that all sounds fine, I was just wondering whether contributors should include their paper spec as well ie. name and weight; people might like the feel of a particular entry and want to know what the substrate is…

    John Christopher

  6. Barbara Hauser - July 1, 2008

    Paul, your generosity has made me weepy. I hope you get lots of help with sorting and shipping. Perhaps participants should provide their own shipping labels.

    Also, perhaps participants should provide more than 100 prints. One bundle could be displayed as a gallery exhibit. You personally should get some extra bundles for all the work you’ve done to bring Vandercook into its second century.


  7. Casey McGarr - July 1, 2008

    Thanks Paul and everyone else.

    I’m looking forward to printing for this occasion, very exciting.


    Casey McGarr

  8. Paul Moxon, Moderator - July 1, 2008

    Fritz’s comment on this thread is historically very interesting. Sadly, none of the serial numbers he mentioned are accounted for in the census.

    Regarding the logistics of distributing the project, I had an email exchange with Mike O’Conner, who was the APA bundler, just once in 1958 (!). He said: “Mainly you just have to find some soul who is willing to gather all the entries, put it together and mail them out to participants. Participants usually kick in money to help with postage and handling when they register or when they send in their entries.”

    Straightforward enough. Unless there is an eager volunteer or folks prefer a peer-to-peer model, I will do it. Fritz suggested I print a title page. He also suggested an October 1 deadline to allow more time for procrastination. While that is my birthday, I still like August 16, R.O.‘s birthday better.

    This is your last chance to comment on the parameters before I post an official announcement and email the membership:

    Vandercook Centennary Print Bundle

    A limited edition exchange of one hundred letterpress prints on the theme “One hundred years of Vandercook presses, 1909-2009”, printed exclusively on Vandercook proof presses.

    8 1/2 x 11 inches (any weight or color paper)
    no limit to number of ink colors
    Please include a one inch left hand margin to allow for potential binding (to be left to bundle recipients)

    Please include the following in the design or colophon
    – press model
    – serial number
    – name of proprietor
    – name of the press
    – location (City State/Province Country)
    – materials used: e.g. metal and/or wood type, photopolymer, magnesium or copper plates, etc.

    Limited to 100 participants. All participants to receive one complete set of submissions received by the deadline..

    Deadline for submission: August 16, 2009

    Please send submissions and $10 USD to cover postage and shipping materials to:

    Vandercook Centenary Print Bundle
    c/o Paul Moxon
    1059 Chalet Drive West
    Mobile AL 36608 USA

  9. Tara Bryan - July 1, 2008

    Count me in. I love my Vandercooks and think it’s a great idea!
    Tara Bryan

  10. Fritz Klinke - June 27, 2008

    The first recorded date for a Vandercook press order is September 30, 1909. It is listed as Vandercook order number 150, and was for an 11×17 press that shipped on October 25, 1909 to A. F. Wanner Co., for Kenfield-Leach, Chicago. There is no serial number. This is the first entry on Page 1 of Book A. The next entry is for American Type Founders Co., Baltimore branch, for a model 1, 11×25 1/2, and that was ordered on October 1, 1909 and shipped on October 16, 1909. In October of 1909, Vandercook entered orders #151 through #174, or 23 presses. That seems impressive for me as a good start in the business. The listing of presses by sales number stopped with #243, a press shipped April 13, 1910.

    Actual serial numbers assigned to presses started in 1914 with machine #1, and then that abruptly changed to serial # 1002 that was a Model 20 that has no shipping date but a note–“Cancelled order”. Number 1003 shipped June 17, 1914 to Keystone Type Foundry in New York. There is some confusion in the first 51 pages of Book A as how to record press sales in an orderly manner. There are parts sales, entries for postage, notes on trade ins, and the like including bank deposits. One note has “R&D, 4 hrs @ 75 $3.00”.

    The last press in Book A was serial number 1140, a model 17, shipped August 25, 1916 to George Donovan & Sons, at 44 Beekman Street, New York City. However, on the cover of the ledger, it states “Serial 1000 – 1129 Book A.” There were missed serial numbers, like the #20 press sold to the Mergenthaler Co. in Chicago in June of 1916 with a note that the press was delivered and billed, but no serial number.

    From the handwriting styles, it is apparent that several people had their hand in recording information in what ever manner they wanted. We have all of the original Vandercook serial number books in our files.

    One conclusion to be made is that with real serial numbers starting at 1000, then the final numbers in the very low 30,000 range indicates 29,000+ presses (and that includes non-press items like Hacker Plate Gauges) were actually manufactured by Vandercook–still an impressive number.


  11. john christopher - June 27, 2008

    I was hoping someone would provide a meaningful date – if we don’t know when the first press came off the production line then August 16 sounds fine.

    Don’t worry about the A4>US letter conversion, most people outside of the US should be happy to cut down a sheet to the US letter size.

    To recap on the spec so far:

    8 1/2 x 11 sheet
    any colour paper
    any weight paper
    no limit to colour
    a one inch left hand margin to allow for binding
    subject matter to be restricted to 100/centenary/vandercook (artistic license welcome!!)
    press model/serial number/location

    I also suggest we should include the name of proprietor and the name of the press.

    Barbara – you are welcome to put how long you have been using the press…

    About collation and distribution – it will be interesting to hear the APA angle.

    John Christopher

  12. Paul Moxon, Moderator - June 27, 2008

    The main issue I’ve been contemplating is collation and distribution. APA’s Mike O’Conner is a registered member here, I’ll ask his advice.

    I will send out an announcement to the over 200 registered Vanderblog members. Based on the specs that this ad hoc committee has outlined.

    However, it will be great to make this a worldwide project, So for our friends not based in the United States 8.5 x 11 inches = 215.9 x 279.4 mm. This is a bit wider than the common ISO sheet size A4 (210 x 297 mm).
    Conversely, 210 mm = 8.267 inches.

    Barbara’s proposed left margin is an excellent idea which would allow a bookbinder to trim American sheets to match any A4 sheets.

    As for a deadline, I always look for a meaningful date for such projects, perhaps August 16 the birthday of R.O. Vandercook.

    Coq de vin: cooked in a Dutch oven. Yes?

  13. john christopher - June 27, 2008

    Well look at it this way Barbara – we’re halfway through 2008; if we give a deadline for July 2009 for submission of entries then you will have a year’s worth of printing under your belt – think of the skills you will acquire in that time, by next July you may not think it pertinent to put how long you have been using it…

    The idea of the project is a celebration of 100 years of a particular press, not a fine printing competition – it’s open to anyone with a vandercook regardless of experience and you are more than welcome.

    And be comforted by the fact your press is up and running – mine is not even fully put together!

    I think the idea of a margin is a good one – some people may want to bind their copies, I’m already thinking of a stainless steel case held by binding screws… can I suggest a one inch margin?

    Just one further thought – I’ve been calculating the cost of mailing approx. 100 individual board envelopes to the US – it’s not cheap! Although 100 contributors would be a neat reflection of the centenary my pocket is suggesting 50! And less of a challenge to bind of course…

    And just one last thing – Paul, the Vandercookbook sounds intriguing – I hope coq de vin is on the menu… (think about it…)

    John Christopher

  14. Barbara Hauser - June 26, 2008

    I would like to participate, though as a new printer I feel a bit intimidated by everyone’s skill and experience. Still, it might be nice to have beginners’ prints represented to show that, at Year 100, printing on the Vandercook is not a dying art. Maybe in addition to model, serial number, and location, printers could indicate the year they began printing on it.

    I like the 8 1/2 x 11 format since, if this is to be a looseleaf project, there are many ways to keep sheets that size together and clean. Maybe everyone should leave ample margin on the left in case some printers want to bind their prints into a bona fide book.

    What are the logistics of distributing the APA’s bundle? They seem to have made a routine of it.


  15. Paul Moxon, Moderator - June 11, 2008

    Yes, I have the email address of every registered member listed in the second column to the right of this comment.

    Of course, an announcement could also be made on the Letpress, the Polymer list, Briar Press, British Letterpress.

  16. john christopher - June 11, 2008

    Yes – the exchange of the sheets could become a real headache depending on the uptake but let’s see where the momentum takes us in terms of numbers.

    Paul – is there a definitive vanderblog email address list we could use to draw people’s attention to the project – we could email the specifications and give a respond-by-date; even limiting it to the first 100 replies for example – that would give us a definitive number to work with. Otherwise we may be waiting on people who may not look at the Vanderblog for months…

    (Shock Horror! You mean not everyone looks at the blog on a daily basis?!)

    Potential contributors so far:
    John Christopher
    Casey McGarr
    Nathan Rose
    Paul Moxon

  17. Paul Moxon, Moderator - June 10, 2008

    I’m pleased that there’s momentum. In my workshops and travels, I’ve been urging folks to produce independent centenary projects. So far I’ve printed a postcard, and have another idea in the works, and will modify the format for the one suggested.

    Now we need to figure out how best to coordinate the exchange. Sounds like a great class project (ha ha). Btw: the census is over 1200 now.

    I’ll create a galley page on this site showing jpegs of prints.

    On a related note: Barbara Henry and Roni Gross at the Center for Book Arts in NYC will issue their Vandercookbook a bound volume with essays by Henry Morris, Fritz Klinke, Michael Peich, Perry Tymeson, and yours truly. It also features a suite of loose sheets printed by a dozen artist printers. More on this when it is finished.

  18. Nathan Rose - June 9, 2008

    You can count me in.
    We had a number of print portfolio exchanges happen when I was in art school, and it was always a good time.
    This ought to be a good one.
    I have heard Moxon mention off line that he might be up for something like this, and I am sure most Vandercookers could make a bit of time in their schedule for something cool like this.
    Specifications sound good to me.
    look forward to this as it progresses :)

  19. john christopher - June 9, 2008

    Well it’s early days yet, but I’ve been thinking about the format today. Let’s say we get a 5 per cent take up on this project ie approx 50 people – it would have to be a loose leaf project where everyone would receive a printed sheet from every other participant – it would be up to each individual to collate and bind those sheets as they see fit – I wouldn’t want to be lumbered with binding 50 books in my spare time – or 1011 for that matter! (Unless we have any brave soul out there willing to take it on – I think not…). Individuals could then post an image of their completed edition on the blog.

    Initial specifications then:

  20. 8 1/2 x 11 sheet
  21. any colour paper
  22. any weight paper???
  23. no limit to colour
  24. subject matter to be restricted to 100/centenary/vandercook (artistic license welcome!!)
  25. It would be nice if you all stated your press model/serial number/location
  26. Comments please….

    Obviously we don’t know the quantity yet – well we do, as it stands its 2 pages long and a run of two….

    Come on people – whether you’re an award winning edition printer or one level up from potato printing like myself – it’s your project, make it happen!

    Thanks for your post Casey!

    John Christopher

  • Casey McGarr - June 8, 2008

    Sounds interesting. What would the specifications be? One 8 1/2 x 11 sheet, 80# cover, any color paper, no limit to number of inks used? How many would need to be run? Do we all get a copy when it’s finished?

    Thanks John, I look forward to participating.


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