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Print-O-Rama: A Printing Event at the American History Museum

Submitted by shannonkerner@… on

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. hosted a “Print-o-rama” on July 28th and 29th, 2017. This fun program included printing demonstrations, and a impressive display of several printing history objects from the museum's collection. The two-day event brought in a crowd of some 1200 people, according to the museum. The inclimate weather may have worked to this project's advantage, even though it forced the demonstrations to move inside, as the line to enter the museum was quite long. Participants learned about printing on a 5×8 and 3x5 Kelsey tabletop letterpress machines, and investigated other examples of historic printing equipment, including the common press. Also present were; BookBeetle, Josef Beery with his desktop press modeled on the common press, APHA, Chesapeake Chapter members, and other knowledgable museum staff and volunteers. It was fun for all ages to be able to make up to four prints; three unique images, one of which could be made in both black and red. Hopefully, there will be many more events of this type in the future! The museum is poised to educate a large number of people about the joys of hand printing and the history of travel sized and home use letterpress printing. One highlight for me was seeing some of Dard Hunter's personal tools! What a treat. 


Bookbeetle machine


5x8 Kelsey tabletop letterpress


Dard Hunter's H form!


Inking the plate.


A civil war era printing set up.


A 1960's toy printing press


An aluminum travel sized common press.