Letterpress printer and designer Lester Feller founded the Printer's Row Printing Museum in Chicago in 1980. When it closed in the early 1990s some of the treasures that once formed part of the museum's displays were saved in storage at the home of Les and his wife, Elaine, in Niles, Illinois, a northern suburb of the Windy City.
Now, thanks to the generosity of Les and Elaine these pieces of letterpress history will soon take on new life as they enrich the Tampa Book Arts Studio.
During the second weekend of July, which followed a week of record-breaking triple-digit temperatures for Chicago, TBAS Letterpress Coordinator Carl Mario Nudi brought his experience of working in Florida summer heat to the task as he rolled up his sleeves and with the help of donors Les and Elaine, packed up the remarkable donation of printing books, plates, presses, and artifacts.
The Feller Family Collections include four vintage model presses, several unusual tabletop proof presses, and a unique collection of antique children's book printing plates, mounted on wood blocks, many of which are in multiple colors, from the Chicago publishing firm of M. A. Donohoe & Co., established in 1871.
|Les pulling antique printing blocks to pack & a color illustration printed from the blocks.|
The gift filled three pallets and about 45 boxes. It meant three full days of packing as Carl and Les began early and worked until late in the day. Now some 2,500 pounds were picked up by movers this week to begin their trip to Tampa, with an expected arrival day at TBAS on July 24.
|A Printing Museum report.|
“I could sense his sadness of seeing his collection being packed for the long journey,” Carl said, “and at the same time Les made it known that he was happy that everything will have a place and use at the Book Arts Studio.”
Carl had been aware of the impressive extent of the collection before he arrived at Les and Elaine’s home because they had sent photos to assist in the planning for the packing. But it was not until he saw everything in person that Carl realized what a treasure the donation is, especially the engravings from the Donohue Publishing Co.