|Carl Mario Nudi, at the Vandercook 4 in the background, has already completed more than two hundred proofs.|
One of the most interesting projects this summer has been the proofing of our complete holdings of antique blocks from the M. A. Donohue & Company of Chicago. The blocks are just one component of the Les Feller Family Collections now at the Tampa Book Arts Studio. Letterpress Coordinator Carl Mario Nudi is leading the effort, with help from Joshua Steward, Caitlin Carty, and others. The project involves unwrapping each block, cleaning away at least the first layers of accumulated ink, dust, and dirt with the help of brushes, toothbrushes, and a variety of solvents, and pulling a proof.
|One cover block after cleaning, ready to be inked and proofed.|
|Carl Mario Nudi pulls a proof from the block.|
|The printed cover, together with our first proof of the black block, which still needs makeready.|
Most of the interior blocks in our collection include the signature of the illustrator, Constance White; however, the interior pages in the printed copy are by multiple illustrators—W. A. Cranston, Stanley Berkeley, and Harrison Weir—and they show a range of dates from 1873-1890. Neither the printed copy nor the set of blocks is dated, though our blocks appear to have been made sometime between 1900 and 1920.
With summer nearly over, there is still a great deal of proofing to be done to complete the project, but each printing session brings fresh discoveries and delightful surprises. We are looking forward to knowing much more about the full archive—which includes well over four hundred blocks—and about the Donohue Company by summer's end.
|Joshua Steward proofs another sheet on the Vandercook 4.|