It’s 2,000 pounds of cast-iron history. And now, the 1899 Chandler & Price Co. printing press is back home in Cleveland where it was built.
The heavy, hand-fed press had been used for 40 years by a traditional print shop in Roanoke, Virginia, until it was purchased by Artful, a Cleveland Heights community art space scheduled to open this month.
Shannon Morris, founding executive director of Artful, knew the press would be a great addition to the nonprofit, which offers affordable studio space to artists in the former Coventry School Building.
“As soon as we saw it,” Morris says, “we needed to bring it back to Cleveland, where it was made — forged — and put it to use.“
The 15-by-10-inch C&P model and its 20-pound typefaces are famous for their quality, thanks to a long hinge that allows the press to meet paper at near parallel. With its own studio within the 5,300-square-foot Artful, the letterpress will be available for public use, kids’ classes and workshops such as holiday card-making and invitation printing.
“There’s a lot that goes into using the letterpress,” Morris says. For words to be spelled correctly on paper, for example, type must be placed in backward. And the craftsmanship that has allowed the century-old press to survive offers its own obstacles. “This machine is 2,000 pounds,” she says. “There’s a force with which it hits the lead type — it’s amazing how difficult it is.”