Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Harold Sterne Letterpress Collection Takes Center Stage at Ringling College of Art and Design

Some of the 600 cases of foundry type the estate of Hal Sterne donated to the Letterpress and Book Arts Studio at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota.
The late Harold Sterne had a life-long affection for letterpress printing, starting as a hobby printer at the age of 14 and continuing with a career in the graphic arts industry in Cincinnati.

During this time Hal, a friend of the Tampa Book Arts Studio, accumulated a collection of type, engravings and equipment that he eventually moved with him and his wife, Judi, to Sarasota upon his retirement.

Over the years, Hal became familiar with faculty of the printmaking classes at Ringling College of Art and Design and had always wanted to leave his collection to the institution as a legacy.

That wish was fulfilled just over a year after Hal’s death with the opening of the Letterpress and Book Arts Center at the Sarasota arts college.

A reception to honor Hal's contribution and love of letterpress was held at Ringling on Thursday, Nov. 17.

A placard on the wall tells the story of Hal Sterne, whose collection of letterpress equipment makes up the Letterpress and Book Arts Studio at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota.

The evening began with Ringling Vice President for Academic Affairs Melody Weiler introducing Judi Sterne, who spoke of her late husband's involvement with letterpress over a 60-year period. According to his obituary, Hal bought his first printing press at the age of 14, graduated from West Virginia Tech with a degree in printing management, and retired as vice president of manufacturing at the printing firm of S. Rosenthal Co. in Cincinnati. He also purchased the remaining stock and records of the Vandercook Press/Vandersons Company, saving the brand from extinction. The Ringling Letterpress and Book Arts Center has Hal’s Vandercook Model SP15 cylinder press, his Chandler and Price platen press, about 600 cases of foundry type with cabinets, and a vast collection of sorts, cuts and engravings, as well as a library of books on printing and publishing.

Mrs. Judi Sterne, left, accepts a plaque of appreciation from Jill Lerner.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Moving Days: Part One

EXPECTED TO BE READY THIS JANUARY for the start of the first residency of UT’s new Low-Res MFA in Creative Writing program, The Tampa Book Arts Studio (TBAS) has begun the transition to its new home on campus in the Edison Building, across the street from the Art Department studios and the Scarfone-Hartley Gallery. Transplanting the Book Arts Studio will be the result of several tedious months of planning between the University of Tampa, Dr. Richard Mathews, and Letterpress Coordinator Carl Mario Nudi. 

The Tampa Book Arts Studio, which has been located temporarily in the Library Annex building for the past few years, has served as a hands-on museum paying homage to the history of letterpress and has played a unique part of the publishing work for the University of Tampa Press.  It's a one-of-a-kind place that is as special as it is integral to UT.  Even by definition, TBAS is described not as a workshop, but as a letterpress laboratory, where the refinement and mastery of typography and the letterpress crafts can be practiced and celebrated. Its storied collection includes myriad foundry types, typecasting machines, and printing presses from the 19th and early 20th century. One highlight of the shop is the 1848 Hoe Washington Hand Press of American woodcut artist J. J. Lankes, on which he printed illustrations for books by Robert Frost, Sherwood Anderson, and others.

To arrange for this move, expert planning and attention was needed due to that of the special needs of these century-plus-old machines, which though wrought of iron and steel (weighing in at many tons) are also very delicate and require experienced riggers to move and set up. Most of the moving time involved so far, though, has been in the organizing and packing of TBAS's extensive library, which totals over 7,000 items— divided between important reference manuals, typographic samples, and other letterpress tools. Not to mention, its rare archive of books about bookmaking that are located in the McDonald Kelce Library’s Special Collections area, and which includes the  Peter Pauper Press Collection, the Lee J. Harrer Collection of Books about Books and the J. B. Dobkin Collection of Nineteenth Century Letter Writing. 

In an age where they say traditional publishing is dying—or digitally evolving to say the least—there is really no price that can be put on preserving what is left of the historical understanding and hands-on practice of the art of letterpress printing. The Studio’s new home is a welcome change, and with better lighting, better airflow, and Spackle still wet, we look forward to the continued celebration of this craft . . .

Click through for more pictures of the move.